Valentin de Boulogne's Allegory of Italy now enriches exhibition on Urban VIII

Starting today, Valentin de Boulogne's Allegory of Italy is going to enrich the exhibition itinerary of the exhibition dedicated to Urban VIII at Palazzo Barberini.

Starting today, Valentin de Boulogne’s painting, Allegory of Italy, is added to the exhibition L’Immagine Sovrana. Urban VIII and the Barberini family, the exhibition mounted at Palazzo Barberini curated by Maurizia Cicconi, Flaminia Gennari Santori and Sebastian Schütze, dedicated to Urban VIII Barberini on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his election to the papal throne.

The work, on loan from theInstitutum Romanum Finlandiae in Rome, arrives from the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, where it was on display from January 21 to April 23 as part of the exhibition Theodoor Rombouts. Virtuose du caravagisme flamand, a monographic exhibition on Theodore Rombouts (1597-1637).

Included in the fourth section of the exhibition at Palazzo Barberini, Hic Domus, which brings together masterpieces from the Barberini collection, and so far replaced by a life-size projection, theAllegory of Italy represents a precious testimony to the patronage and collecting of the Barberini family, which aspired to delineate an aesthetic and an imaginary at once ideal and tangible. This vision was embodied in the Barberini palace itself, where literati, artists and musicians gathered: that nova domus of the pope’s family that appeared to its admiring visitors as a place of wonders and a labyrinth of desires.

Commissioned by cardinal nephew Francesco Barberini, the oil on canvas is a veritable manifesto of rhetorical allegory: it depicts Italy armed with lorica, lance and shield, on which the insignia of the papacy stands. At her feet are the personifications of the Arno and the Tiber, whose banks mark the history and mission of Urban VIII. And behind the protagonist, a swarm of bees, exited in flight not in search of nectar, but in defense of their hive. The ideological and political message was thus clear.

Image: Valentin de Boulogne, Allegory of Italy (1628-1629; oil on canvas, 345 x 333 cm; Rome, Institutum Romanum Finlandiae) in the exhibition layout at Palazzo Barberini. Photo by Alberto Novelli.

Valentin de Boulogne's Allegory of Italy now enriches exhibition on Urban VIII
Valentin de Boulogne's Allegory of Italy now enriches exhibition on Urban VIII

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