Old Masters Paintings Collection

Collezione M covers an extremely significant period of the Italian artistic tradition, and is focused in particular on two mainstreams: the 17th century, with specific reference to the classicism of the Emilian School, and the 18th century, with attention paid to the school of Roman Landscape and Vedutism painters. The 17th century section of the Collection gathers extremely peculiar works of the Emilian and Bolognese school, and is focused on the figures of the principal Masters as well as on those of the other artists linked to this tradition, such as Carlo Maratti, the ideal follower of Annibale Carracci. Of Carracci himself there are two paintings, one of which is a version of the celebrated “Bean Eater”. The Collection boasts another great Master of the 17th century school of Southern Italian art, Mattia Preti, amongst whose works stands out a magnificent portrait of St. Anthony the Abbot. Also very noteworthy are a large canvas depicting the Dinner in the House of the Pharisee, ascribed to the hand of Valentin Lefevre, a Belgian painter active in Venice who was strongly indebted to the spatial arrangement created by Veronese, and a picture by Luca Giordano, a work all the same betraying manifest references to the Venetian school.

Of remarkable importance is the body of works of Guido Reni that give a very precise idea of how the overall orientation of the Collection points towards Classicism, and in particular to its most sentimental and emotional side, the one most deeply bound to ancient sources. Thanks to such works of art, it is possible to trace all the moments of the complex and fascinating parabole of the great Bolognese painter, from his beginnings to his late maturity. All the same relevant is the presence of paintings from the famous artist Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino, whose artistic career can thus be better analyzed. Moreover, since the works gathered in the Collection, studied by Sir Denis Mahon, are listed in the Account Book - the famous artist’s record of payments survived to our days - their historical and artistic value is further increased. In keeping with an in depth analysis of 17th century Emilian painting, the Collection coherently hosts works from the most important followers of Reni and Guercino, such as Elisabetta Sirani and Benedetto Gennari. The presence of these last names helps in establishing the image of a collection based on a profound historical and critical sense.

Rome and its surrounding countryside are instead the protagonists of the 18th century section of the Collection. The silent grandness of the ancient ruins placed against a placid rural context, and the restrained dynamism of the human figures captured in everyday life moments, were the favourite subjects of the painters belonging to the school of "Vedutism", who found in the 18th century papal city a very rich source of inspiration. These works thus became an important visual testimony of the life in the city at that time. A great figure in this scenery was Paolo Anesi, who almost entirely devoted himself to the depiction of views of his beloved home-town. The Collection features several pictures of this artist, all characterized by a high pictorial quality and by a crisply descriptive neatness. Amongst other important landscape painters there was Andrea Locatelli, who paired Anesi on the level of pictorial quality, as this was the result of a profitable artistic collaboration between the two of them and Hendrik Van Lint. The latter, born in Antwerp, moved to Rome at a very young age, where he devoted himself to the portrayal of rural landscapes. The critical investigation of 18th century art is enriched by the presence of two other genres peculiar of the time and strongly connected to "Vedutism": the Capriccio, that is a composition of landscapes freely invented by the imagination of the artist, and the Bambocciata, a genre scene in which the characters were taken from the lower classes of the population.

In the Collection also appears a genre with very delicate forms and colours, represented by some Rococò works depicting the subjects typical of that stream, and consisting in small scale decorative and allegorical works.