Guido Reni and Rome. Nature and Devotion

Guido Reni and Rome. Nature and Devotion

From March 1st to May 22nd 2022, the Galleria Borghese opens the exhibition Guido Reni and Rome: Nature and Devotion, the first of a series of international exhibitions dedicated to the Master of the Italian 17th century.

 The exhibition revolves around Reni’s painting Country Dance (c. 1605), which re-entered the Museum’s collection a year ago. Part of Cardinal Scipione’s collection, mentioned from the beginning of the 17th century in the old inventories, sold in the 19th century, and considered lost until it reappeared in 2008 on the London antique market as a work by an anonymous Bolognese, the painting – appropriately authenticated – was reacquired by the Galleria in 2020. In addition to constituting an important historical, integral part of the Museum’s heritage, its presence in the rooms of the pinacotheca next to the other paintings of the collection highlights the crucial importance of the Borghese patronage for Guido Reni and provides an opportunity to reflect on the painter’s relationship with rural themes and landscape painting, which up to now have been considered “extraneous” to his production.

 Guido Reni and Rome: Nature and Devotion, through the display of over 30 works, aims to reconstruct – starting with Reni’s interest in landscape painting compared to other painters active in Rome in the early 17th century – the first years of the artist’s stay in Rome, his enthusiastic study of antiquity and the Renaissance, his stupefaction regarding the painting of Caravaggio – whom he met and frequented – and his relations with his patrons.

 The exhibition itinerary starts on the ground floor, in the large entrance hall, with 4 monumental altarpieces  – the Crucifixion of Saint Peter (1604-5), the Trinity with the Madonna of Loreto and the Patron, Cardinal Antonio Maria Gallo (1603-4), the Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria (c. 1606), and the Martyrdom of Saint Cecilia (1601) – that highlight the artist’s ability, already developed in the years preceding his arrival in Rome, to measure himself in this genre, to move people by the solemnity and power of his perfect figures. They also tell us a lot about Reni’s relations with his patrons: Paolo Emilio Sfondrato, Antonio Maria Gallo, Ottavio Costa, and Pietro Aldobrandini.

In the adjacent rooms, works such as the Massacre of the Innocents (1611) and Saint Paul Reproaches the Penitent Saint Peter (c.1609) confirm that Reni’s painting in Rome, as well as somewhat later – such as Lot and His Daughters and Atalanta and Hippomenes (1615-20) – is based on  a strong attraction to the expertise of the sculptor, as shown in the position of the bodies in space, the three-dimensional concreteness of the gestures, and the facial expressions, which masterfully capture forever a specific emotion.

 On the second floor, in the second part of the exhibition, generous loans and the Galleria’s exceptional collection allows itineraries and digressions around the landscape theme and the Galleria’s latest acquisition, the Country Dance. To highlight the practice of landscape painting in Rome in the first decade of the 17th century, on display in the Lanfranco Room are several of the Emilian prerequisites: from the Landscape with Deer Hunt by Niccolò dell’Abate to the  Country Fete (1584) by Agostino Carracci, a few paintings by Paul Bril from the Galleria’s collection, and Landscape with Arianna Abandoned and Landscape with Salmacis and Hermaphroditus (c. 1606-8), two of the six landscapes with mythological figures by Carlo Saraceni, formerly part of the Farnese collection, from the Capodimonte Museum.

Then there are several late, literary experiments by Bolognese painters, from the four round paintings by Francesco Albani – landscapes inhabited by goddesses and nymphs executed in 1621 for Scipione Borghese – to the Landscape with Silvia and the Satyr (1615) by Domenichino, from the Bologna Pinacotheca, showing that such interest continued in the decades subsequent to those first intense years of the century.

 The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Marsilio, with texts by, among others, Daniele BenatiRaffaella Morselli. and Maria Cristina Terzaghi: an innovative interpretation of the Master’s work based on a scholarly study of Reni as a landscape painter.

 With the aim of allowing the greatest possible access to the exhibition and of supporting cultural consumption, the Galleria Borghese has decided to not apply any surcharge on tickets, which thus continues to cost the same, while allowing access to both the exhibition and the permanent collection.

 To find out more about Guido Reni's painting Country dance, visit this page

Would you like to discover the masterpieces of Guido Reni from his Roman years located in other parts of the city? On this page you will find all the initiatives


 Guido Reni and Rome. Nature and Devotion


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