Robilant+Voena is the premier international gallery for the Caravaggesque, paintings by the European artists who flocked to Rome around 1600 and fuelled an artistic revolution instigated by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610). Timed to coincide with the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition Beyond Caravaggio, In Pursuit of Caravaggio is an exhibition which will display an exceptional group of Caravaggesque paintings as a vehicle to explore the profound way that art dealers have informed and influenced the reception of the controversial art of Caravaggio and his followers.
The years proceeding Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s (1573-1610) arrival in Rome in the late summer of 1592 were transformative in the history of western art. Caravaggio landed in the Eternal City and both scandalised and delighted artistic patrons with his brutally naturalist style. His manner was revolutionary and stood counter to the classical idealism of traditional Roman painters. His influence was profound and he quickly garnered a following of both artists and patrons. So when Caravaggio, at the height of his fame, left Rome in 1606, his insistence not to take pupils or to run an organised workshop left no obvious successor to fill the extraordinary demand for commissions. But Rome was filled with artists who were inspired by Caravaggio’s methods. These artists adopted the tenets of Caravaggio’s art (a realistic depiction of figures, dramatic subject matter, and use of chiaroscuro, a high contrast of light to dark) and gave birth to one of the most expressive and beautiful artistic movements of all time.
The exhibition will bring together 12 paintings that will demonstrate both the variety and individuality of the artists who were inspired by Caravaggio’s revolutionary style. Amongst them are three captivating paintings by Bartolomeo Manfredi (Ostiano 1582 – 1622 Rome), one of the leading members of the Caravaggesque movement. They depict respectively St. John the Baptist, a highlight of the exhibition, Saint Jerome and Head of St John the Baptist. All three present biblical subjects in a new manner for their time, with an astonishing realism and the illustration of extreme violence. Giovanni Baglione’s (1566 – Rome - 1643) Judith with the head of Holofernes is a further perfect example of this aspect of Caravaggio’s legacy.
Also included in the exhibition is an extremely distinguished painting, Allegory of Music, by Antiveduto Grammatica (ca. 1569 – Rome – 1626). This recently rediscovered picture is one of the very few signed works by the artist. Long known only through lesser copies, its emergence is an extremely important addition to the artist’s oeuvre.
Amongst the works by Northern painters who practiced in Rome during the 1610s are paintings by the Dutch artists Dirck Jaspersz van Baburen (Wijk bij Duurstede 1594/95 – 1624 Utrecht), David de Haen (Amsterdam c.1585 – 1622 Rome) and Matthias Stomer (Amersfoort 1600 – Sicily post 1650). Other significant works on view will be A Young Soldier by Theodor Rombotus (1597 – Antwerp – 163) and Claude Vignon’s (1593 Tours – Paris 1670) David, one of the artist’s most stylistically sophisticated works.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication in four parts. Part one is an interview with Marco Voena by the internationally recognised author, Alain Elkann, part two is an essay, Collecting Caravaggio, by Dr. Virginia Brilliant, Ulla R. Searing Curator of Collections, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida. Part three is a catalogue of the paintings in the exhibition and part four records the most important Caravaggesque paintings sold by Robilant+Voena to international museums.