In 2019 the Estense Castle hosted the exhibition "Painting affections. Sacred painting in Ferrara between the 16th and 18th centuries". The picture gallery was once belonging to the "Orphanages and Conservatories Management" and now owned by the ASP - Azienda Servizi alla Persona di Ferrara, deposited in the City Civic Museums since 1974. Here you may find the second part of the exhibition.
Forms of Mysticism
Many of the paintings here on display are still anonymous; this exhibition also aimsto stimulate scholarly debate.There are, however, recurrent iconographic themes. One of these without doubt isthe representation of contemplation and the relationship between the depicted andthe sacred.
Dominican Praying before the Crucifix (XVII century) by AnonymousMusei di Arte Antica
The collection contains works that offer different ways of depicting the Crucifix and his adoration. In one of these, a Dominican friar interacts with the object of his devotion in an almost physical way, touching it and receiving the divine Blood as a gift.ex Orphanages and Conservatories guards
Praying Virgin Mary (1750-1780) by Francesco PellegriniMusei di Arte Antica
Prayer as gentle and serene contemplation is the theme of the elegant “Madonna in Prayer” which is attributed to Francesco Pellegrini..
Saint Albertus Magnus (XVII century) by Circle of Carlo Bononi (?)Musei di Arte Antica
Mysticism is declared in a different way in the two canvases on the opposite wall in which the long wave of divine inspiration typical of the Counter-Reformation strongly appears, albeit with different chronologies and characters.
Saint Jerome Emiliani (1669) by Ercole Graziani the elderMusei di Arte Antica
Nativity of Jesus with the Sheperds and Kings (1600-1620) by Angelo LionMusei di Arte Antica
The Adoration of the Newborn Jesus is the central theme of the "Nativity of Christ with Magi and Shepherds", the work, by the Venetian Angelo Lion, appears to owe the iconographic and stylistic models of the great Jacopo Bassano.
The Histories of Saint John the Baptist by Giuseppe Caletti, known as il Cremonese
The ex Orphanotrofi and Conservatori collection houses one among the most unique and original painting cycles from 17th century in Ferrara: the 17 canvases from the “Histories of Saint John the Baptist” by Giuseppe Caletti, a painter from Cremona who was active in Ferrara.The series was painted for the Oratory of Young Saint John the Baptist close to 1630. Sold by the Massari of the Oratory in 1749 to raise funds for the restoration of the church, the cycle went to the famous Barbi Cinti collection in Ferrara before finding its home in the church of Saint John the Baptist. From here it reaches the Providence Orphanage and Girls Home along with the rest of the collection
With an almost fairy tale-like tone, Caletti proves to be a supreme narrator. Every moment of the saint’s life is celebrated with a surprising freshness and a free and flowing brushstroke. The absolute protagonists are the expansive postures of the figures, but also the landscape which characterizes the setting in almost every scene
Imprisonment of the Baptist (ca. 1630) by Giuseppe CalettiMusei di Arte Antica
This way of narrating the holy stories was very popular in the city, even after the cycle was completed. As the biographer Girolamo Baruffaldi noted at the beginning of the 18th century, the works from the church of Saint John the Baptist “go running through all the churches in Ferrara on the feast days,” or rather, would be on display in various churches throughout the city.
Herodias orders to Bury the Head of Saint John the Baptist (ca. 1630) by Giuseppe CalettiMusei di Arte Antica
The Sunset of Ferrarese Painting
In the second half of the 17th century and for all of the 18th century, sacred painting in Ferrara stagnated into a repetition of the familiar local traditions; however, the influence of new trends coming from Venice and Bologna can be seen.
Saint Dominic and the Holy Virgin of the Rosary (ca. 1700) by Francesco FerrariMusei di Arte Antica
The comparison with the past appears to be fundamental in the “Holy Virgin of the Rosary”, which comes from the Church of St Barbara and dates to 1700 when the prior of the conservatory, Domenico Gatti, built the chapel dedicated to St Dominic and to the Virgin. The artist is Francesco Ferrari, the prolific master of Baroque decoration, who worked on many of the churches in Ferrara (such as the basilica of St George).
Saint John the Baptist at the source (ca. 1711) by Giacomo ParoliniMusei di Arte Antica
Giacomo Parolini, the best painter in 18th century Ferrara, is the artist of the vigorous and bold “St. John the Baptist” from 1711: here the saint is portrayed with traits of a noteworthy and unusual sensuality.
An Allegory of Chastity (18th century (?)) by Francesco Parolini (?)Musei di Arte Antica
The “Allegory of Chastity” represents a fascinating mystery and is being studied.
The subject refers to the virtues linked to the girls homes and has led to the theory that it comes from the ceiling of the church of Saint Margaret, which has similar decorations, made by Scarsellino and Bononi, which were re-painted by Francesco Parolini, son of the more famous Giacomo, shortly before 1773.
Saint Rose of Lima receiving the Child from the Virgin Mary (ca. 1759) by Francesco PellegriniMusei di Arte Antica
The exhibit closes with the empathic and moving sweetness of the “St. Rose of Lima” by Francesco Pellegrini, dating from about 1759. The spinsters of the Rosa monastery, depicted at the feet of the Virgin, represent the ideal link with the “sisters” painted by Bastarolo almost two centuries earlier in the Oratory of St Barbara.
"Painting Affections. Sacred painting in Ferrara between the 16th and 17th centuries" was an exhibition held at the Estense Castle in Ferrara between 25 January and 26 December 2019.
Curated by Giovanni Sassu, with the collaboration of Romeo Pio Cristofori and Tito Manlio Cerioli.
Organizing bodies: Comune di Ferrara, Fondazione Ferrara Arte and ASP - Personal Services Company