L’arte per l’arte – Dipingere gli affetti: sacred painting in Ferrara between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries

Back to Ferrara Estense Castle “The art for art”, the project of the Municipality of Ferrara, promoted in collaboration with the Ferrara Arte Foundation, dedicated to the enhancement of the historical and artistic heritage of the city. The visit experience will take on the contours of a fascinating and surprising journey through time that will range from the decline of the Estense dominion to the century of the Enlightenment.

After the works of De Pisis, Boldini, Previati and Mentessi of the Galleries of Modern Art, protagonists of the first two exhibitions of the Art for Art project, attention is now shifted to the period from the Five to the Eighteenth century. The richly frescoed rooms of the south wing and of the Camerini del Castello will host the ASP property gallery, Personal Services Center of Ferrara, Masi Torello and Voghiera, deposited at the Museums of Ancient Art.

It is a real artistic capital, almost unknown and yet of great historical importance, which the exhibition at the Castello aims to give back to the general public. The visit experience will take on the contours of a fascinating and surprising journey through time that will range from the decline of the Estense dominion to the century of the Enlightenment.

The stages of this itinerary will lead us to the presence of the two important protagonists of the naturalistic revolution of the early seventeenth century: Ippolito Scarsella known as Scarsellino and Carlo Bononi. The gentle magnificence of the former and the aching beauty of the latter characterize the Ferrara of those years, making it one of the most intriguing artistic centers of the time. At the same time, we will get acquainted with chronologically previous and parallel personalities such as, for example, Giuseppe Mazzuoli known as Bastarolo, whose chastened mannerism is fundamental in the second half of the sixteenth century, Gaspare Venturini, a very active painter for the dukes and religious clients, and the enigmatic Giuseppe Caletti, a curious figure of a cursed artist operating in the first half of the seventeenth century. The second half of the seventeenth century is characterized by the mitigated figurative universe of Giuseppe Avanzi, a mediation painter who will open the curtain to the eighteenth century where the singular personalities of Giacomo Parolini and Giuseppe Zola will be imposed.

But why “paint affections”? For a double symbolic evocation. The first concerns language: the works that will be exhibited in Castello move in the wake of the guidelines following the Council of Trent that delegated to art the basic task of mediating between the faithful and religion, between the visible and the invisible, through naturalistic, emotional and family forms, in which the man of the seventeenth and eighteenth century could be recognized. The second concerns the humanitarian vocation that animated the places from which they were originally placed. Not just any church, but the altars, chapels and rooms of religious institutes that placed the help of others at the center of their work, whether they were orphans, needy people, needy people or women in difficulty. A set of experiences animated by leading figures of the Estense court – from Alfonso II to Barbara of Austria, up to Margherita Gonzaga – but also of a substantial portion of the city nobility and bourgeoisie, engaged in charity and solidarity.

And it is thus that the protagonist of this exhibition will also be the city of Ferrara, in an attempt to recompose the connective tissue of a “charity heraldry” (to use a happy definition by Andrea Emiliani) that constituted the most tangible manifestation of that pietas six and eighteenth-century animated by empathetic affection and social commitment. An activism that led to adorn some of the most representative sacred places, today almost all disappeared or changed due to features or destinations of use, such as the female conservatives of Santa Barbara and Santa Margherita, or the Pia Opera della Poverta Generale. A true journey through time, in short, in search of the modern roots of Ferrara. This is true not only from the historical-artistic point of view, but also from the social point of view: the fact that these works were inherited by the ASP Centro Servizi alla Persona of Ferrara, and that the latter collaborated and supported the realization of the project exhibition, represents the red thread that connects the humanitarian activity of the ancient charitable institutions, with the current declination of active policies for the welfare of the city.
>>> “Painting the affections” is enriched by the tactile paintings created by the students of the Art School “Dosso Dossi”

The students of the Liceo Artistico “Dosso Dossi” have created tactile paintings inspired by some of the paintings in the ASP Gallery.
Tactile paintings are three-dimensional translations in bas-relief that, through the perceptive experience of the fingers, return the shapes and figures even to the visually impaired or blind. The selected works are three paintings by Scarsellino: the ‘Martyrdom of Santa Margherita’, the ‘Beheading of St. John the Baptist’ and the ‘Deposition of Christ’.
Fundamental was the contribution of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired (UICI) of Ferrara, which tested the tactile paintings and took care of the braille printing of the captions.

Information: tel. 0532 299233 castelloestense@comune.fe.it
Reservations: tel. 0532 244949