Battle Paintings or Leaders and battles

Already in the XIV century the subject matter of arms had been faced by many artists, but starting at the beginning of the XVII sentury there is a rapid diffusion of a true painting genre which was well represented in the collections of noble families in Parma. Bearing witness to this are the two large paintings by Pier Ilario Mercanti, called lo Spolverini, famous artist at the Farnese court between the XVII and XVIII centuries, specialised in celebratory paintings and historical battles, here commissioned by another important local family, the Pallavicino, in the representation of the famous battle of Fornovo for the Buffalora villa in Busseto. The scenes, depicting two separate moments in daytime and nightime, illustrate the clash between the French troops of Carlo VIII and the army of the Lombard-Veneto League which took place in 1495 on the banks of the Taro river: the two sides, represented with the clothes and armour of the XVII century, are confused in the mass of horses and soldiers. An explosion far away is rendered superbly with effects of light in pink tones.

A large portrait of a parade instead celebrates Antonio, last Farnese heir who succeeded his brother Francesco to the Duchy in 1727. The work by the Genoese artist Molinaretto represents the Duke in a military pose. Armed, he advances on a white horse holding a sceptre cloaked in an azure robe while in the background the city of Parma can be seen at sunset closed within the city walls.

This section devoted to military art is completed by the portrait of Don Carlo of Bourbon and his father Filippo V, both attributable to Jean-Baptiste van Loo and which document the rapid rise across Europe of French painting.

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