Bologna hosts first monographic exhibition on painter Giuseppe Marchesi known as Samson

From April 1 to September 2, at the Collezioni Comunali d'Arte Palazzo d'Accursio in Bologna, 'Leggiadro Barocco L'attività giovanile di Giuseppe Marchesi detto il Sansone' opens to the public. The exhibition celebrates and rediscovers the artist who worked on the classicist side of the eighteenth-century Bolognese school.

Giuseppe Marchesi (Bologna, 1699-1771), of restless temperament and imposing build, to which he owed his nickname Samson, was among the most fruitful painters in cosmopolitan 18th-century Bologna, where the art scene was as lively as ever. But the artist was forgotten as a result of changes in the history of taste, which condemned the 18th century as a superficial and empty century.

Lighthearted Baroque. The Early Activity of Giuseppe Marchesi Called the Samson, curated by Antonella Mampieri and Angelo Mazza, on view from April 1 to Sept. 2, 2023 at Collezioni Comunali d’Arte Palazzo d’Accursio, aims to rediscover this significant artistic figure, who operated on the classicist side of the eighteenth-century Bolognese school. A pupil of leading artists of the previous generation, such as Aureliano Milani and Marcantonio Franceschini, Marchesi fit into the groove of the local painting tradition that found in the Carracci and their pupils-particularly Guido Reni, Francesco Albani and Domenico Zampieri known as Domenichino-the indispensable model.

This stylistic orientation was also supported and promoted by the main artistic institution in the city, theAccademia Clementina, to which Marchesi belonged, holding a variety of positions, didactic and directorial, until his appointment as Prince in 1752. His subsequent artistic evolution led him to the gradual abandonment of an Arcadian classicism in favor of an almost Mannerist component, close in intensity to the manner of Francesco Monti and Vittorio Maria Bigari. His biography, present only in the manuscript lives composed by the Bolognese scholar Marcello Oretti in the second half of the century, is missing in Luigi Crespi’s Felsina Pittrice (1739) and appears only marginally in the Storia dell Accademia Clementina by Giampietro Zanotti (1739), who nevertheless recognizes, along with Luigi Lanzi, his remarkable artistic qualities for “a manner of painting so beautiful and so strong, that all delight, and good, and great fame comes to him.”

Rather early on there is an overlap between Marchesi’s works and those of the temporary Ercole Graziani junior, so much so that at the 1935 Exhibition of Eighteenth-Century Bolognese, which marked the resurgence of interest in this period of local art history, many of the works present bear attribution to Graziani. It was up to critic Renato Roli to make a brilliant first reconstruction of theartist’s catalog in 1971, distinguishing the hands of the two painters and returning to Marchesi works that had been considered by his colleague. Subsequent studies, conducted mainly by Antonella Mampieri and Angelo Mazza, expanded the catalog of known paintings, adding specimens of graphics and engravings made to Marchesi’s drawings. The ability to blend warm colors and strong musculature, derived from the lesson of the Carraccis, with the Arcadian grace of drawing, typical of Franceschini’s painting, made Samson a fashionable painter, up to date with the post-Baroque trends that were already in vogue in France and Austria, appreciated by the public and his colleagues. A prolific and garrulous petit maître, his lively narrative vein yielded extremely pleasing results, especially in his younger years, circoscrivibi#le between the third and fourth decades of the century. The culmination of this phase was the fresco decoration of the vault and apse of the church of Santa Maria di Galliera, in Bologna, his first truly great public commission (1732-1744), which would consecrate him as a painter of sacred and profane compositions at home, in other Italian regions and in several European countries (England and Holland).

The dossier exhibition designed for the Collezioni Comunali d’Arte, which keeps in its per manente collection the painting of historical subject Clement VIII returns the keys of the city to the Elders of Bologna, focuses on the early period of his elegant and graceful career: from the emancipation of his relationship with Marco Antonio Franceschini, who transmitted to him his moderate Arcadian taste, to 1725, the conventional starting point of the artist’s independent career. Around two fresh pendant idylls, recently found on the antiques market and exhibited for the first time to the public from a private collection - Moses and the Daughters of Jethro and Solomon Censoring the Idols, the success of which is demonstrated by the presence of copies at the Museo Diocesano in Imola - other examples of “room” painting of sacred and profane themes are brought together, best documenting the artist’s youthful style in his first twenty years of activity. These include the Four Seasons from the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna and the Drunkenness of Noah, now in a private collection.

Completing the exhibition are a miniature Portrait of a Maiden preserved at the Museo Civico d’Arte Industriale and Galleria Davia Bargellini and two lively drawings from the Art and History Collections of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna, the Rape of the Sabine Women and the Rape of Helen, preparatory projects for a large painting to be made in the hall of honor of the house that later belonged to the Buratti merchants, promoters of the arts and various Bolognese artists. Only the second one, dated 1725, was later realized by the painter and, as mentioned, opens his documented career.

Light Baroque. The Early Activity of Giuseppe Marchesi, promoted by Settore Musei Civici Bologna | Musei Civici d’Arte Antica, aims to propose a renewed reading of this protagonist of the Bolognese ’barocchetto’, allowing new hypotheses on the chronological ordering of his early production.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication of the same name edited by Antonella Mampieri and Angelo Mazza, with the collaboration of Silvia Battistini, which contains a preface by Massimo Medica, a text by Mirko Bonora and essays by Antonella Mampieri and Angelo Mazza.

Free mediation and education activities aimed at adult and childhood audiences are planned during the opening period. A museum ticket is required for participation.

Guided tours Saturday, April 1, 2023 4 p.m.; Monday, April 10, 2023 4 p.m.; Saturday, April 22, 2023 4 p.m.; Sunday, May 7, 2023 4 p.m. (guided tour of the exhibition and St. Peter’s Cathedral). Sunday, June 4, 2023 4 p.m. (guided tour of the exhibition and the Church of Our Lady of Galliera). Thursday, June 15, 2023 5:30 pm, Thursday, July 6, 2023 5:30 pm, Thursday, July 20, 2023 5:30 pm, Thursday, August 3, 2023 5:30 pm, Saturday, September 2, 2023 5:00 pm.

Children’s workshops Saturday, May 20, 2023 3 p.m. and Friday, June 16, 2023 5 p.m.

Admission Full € 6 | reduced € 3 | reduced special 19-25 years € 2 | free Culture Card holders Integrated ticket Municipal Art Collections and Clock Tower: full € 8 | reduced € 5

Information Municipal Art Collections Palazzo d’Accursio | Piazza Maggiore 6 | 40121 Bologna Tel. +39 051 2193998 8

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Bologna hosts first monographic exhibition on painter Giuseppe Marchesi known as Samson
Bologna hosts first monographic exhibition on painter Giuseppe Marchesi known as Samson