Raphael and antiquity in Agostino Chigi’s Villa

Villa Farnesina in Rome presents the exhibition Raffaello e l’antico in Agostino Chigi’s Villa, scheduled from 6 April – the anniversary of the birth and death of the great Renaissance artist – to 2 July. The exhibition, curated by Alessandro Zuccari and Costanza Barbieri, closes the celebrations of the Triptych of Italian Ingenuity, designed by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and dedicated to Leonardo and then to Dante, on the occasion of the centenary anniversaries of the three brilliant artists, disrupted during the pandemic. The exhibition at Villa Farnesina highlights Raphael’s ideal of classical beauty in the second decade of the sixteenth century and underlines the influence that the important collection of statues, sarcophagi, cameos, reliefs, books and ancient coins of the patron Agostino Chigi had about the artist from Urbino. «The exhibition is an opportunity to rearrange Agostino Chigi’s collections in their place of origin – commented Roberto Antonelli, president of the Accademia dei Lincei – and to understand how much they were a source of inspiration for the classic style of Raphael and his school, contributing to the development of the full Renaissance. Villa Farnesina is the place where classicism had one of the highest celebrations». The papal banker and collector Agostino Chigi and Raphael, who disappeared just five days apart in April 1520, were united by a profound understanding founded on friendship and work: after the popes Julius II and Leo X, the Sienese patron he was the most generous patron of Raffaello Sanzio who frequented Villa Chigi – the current Villa Farnesina – as a friend and as the artist in charge of the decoration of the Loggia della Galatea and Cupid and Psyche. However, the magnificent collections of the patron were dispersed already after his death and with the Sack of Rome until the villa was sold to the Farnese family in 1579. Today, for the first time after 500 years, Agostino Chigi’s Villa returns to enclose in one place the spirit of that time was unique, thus recomposing a dialogue between ancient and modern. «The exhibition presents to the public the results of research on the documents of the Chingiani Funds of the Vatican Apostolic Library – commented the curator Alessandro Zuccari – and reconstructs the cultural context of Raphael’s activity in the Villa, where the artist drew inspiration. The statues of the Capitoline winged Psyche, of Pan and Daphnis of Palazzo Altemps, of the Knife Grinder of the Uffizi, present in the Villa, profoundly influenced Raphael’s imagination». This interest in classicism, which among other things unites the three great celebrated artists – Leonardo, Dante and Raphael – has so far been little studied, but the exhibition analyzes the will of the painter from Urbino to revitalize the ancient; after centuries Raphael’s use of Egyptian blue was also discovered precisely to paint a subject that belongs to antiquity. For the exhibition, the original access to the Villa from the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche has been restored and two installations by contemporary artists who dialogue with the past have been included in the exhibition itinerary. The first is Scuderia Atmospheres, by Stefano Conticelli, and the second is Connection by the artist Nives Widauer. The Villa Farnesina exhibition, under the High Patronage of the President of the Republic, with the patronage of the National Committee for the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael and the Friends of the Accademia dei Lincei Association, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and with the support of Intesa Sanpaolo, it is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 to 19. (ANSA).

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