Art in Lombardy and Central Italy 1600-1700

In this long lateral corridor are brought together the most significant works which can be ascribed to the ambit of painting from Lombardy and Central Italy. Most are portraits or religious subjects which came to the Pilotta from ecclesiastical suppressions or from various private collections in the city.

The series opens with a large canvas showing the Madonna and child with the Saints Carlo Borromeo and Felice de Cantalice created in 1647 by the Lombard painter Carlo Francesco Nuvolone for the Parma church of Santa Maria della Neve. Following the Napoloeonic requisitions, in 1810 the artwork was taken to Paris returning to Parma in 1816 to augment the collection of the new Ducal Gallery created by Maria Luigia. The two exceptional portraits of the Milanese Count Carlo Beccaria, treasurer of the Farnese court from 1627, and his wife Giulia Bonfanti have been rendered with intense and penetrating realism by Nuvolone in a style typical of the Lombard portrait manner of XVII century.

Following the splendid series of 12 saints and martyrs attributed to florentine painter Giuseppe Tonelli and from an unknown source, can be found the altar piece showing an episode from the life of San Bernardo degli Uberti, Bishop of Parma from 1106 to 1133 and one of the patron saints of the city. The painting is by the Neapolitan artist Sebastiano Conca and shows Bernardo in the act of blessing soldiers marching to the battle of Borgo San Donnino, today’s Fidenza. Bernardo is in the centre of the scene and in the background can be seen the bell towers and domes of local churches. The austere aspect of the saint has been rendered vivid thanks to the movement and splendid chromatism of the cloak while to the left can be seen an altar boy holding up the Cardinal’s hat illuminated by an intense ray of light. The work of Conca can be counted amongst the most significant examples of “Baroque classicism”.

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