Dosso and Battista Dossi together for an exhibition at Trento's Castello del Buonconsiglio

From July 1 to October 22, 2023, the Buonconsiglio Castle will dedicate an exhibition to the restored paintings that Dosso Dossi with his brother Battista made between 1531 and 1532 to decorate the library of Prince-Bishop Bernardo Cles.

The Castello del Buonconsiglio in Trento hosts from July 1 to October 22, 2023 the exhibition I volti della Sapienza. Dosso and Battista Dossi in the Library of Bernardo Cles, curated by Vincenzo Farinella and Laura Dal Prà.

Between late 1531 and early 1532 Dosso Dossi with the help of his brother Battista was engaged in decorating the library of Prince-Bishop Bernardo C les in the Magno Palazzo of the Buonconsiglio Castle in Trento. For the room that was to house the Trentino cardinal’s precious and rich collection of ancient books, Dosso thought to accomplish an impressive decoration. On the walls, therefore, he created frescoes (mostly lost) while for the ceiling coffers he painted a series of eighteen paintings on spruce board depicting sages, philosophers and orators of antiquity.

A marvelous setting that Mattioli, a court physician, compares in the poem he published in 1539 on the Magno Palazzo, to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and the Loggia of Psyche painted by Raphael at Villa Chigi, now Villa Farnesina.

It will be precisely the restored panels and images of the wise men, philosophers and sages, starting with ancient art, that will be the thread running through the exhibition at the Buonconsiglio Castle: an extraordinary opportunity to see them up close for the first time thanks to their disassembly and restoration (currently underway in the very Clesian Libraria) and to learn about the many vicissitudes that affected them.

In March 1813, the eighteen panels, after being removed from the ceiling of the Clesiana Libraria, were brought, at the behest of the prefect of Altoadige Filippo Dalfiume, to the Imperial Regio Ginnasio Liceo di Trento (today the Liceo Prati). In 1922, superintendent Giuseppe Gerola had them brought back to the castle but found only twelve, because six were lost between 1813 and 1896.

The restoration of the pictorial cycle, conducted by restoration firm Enrica Vinante, will be completed in May. About one hundred works including sculptures, prints, volumes and paintings, such as Donato Bramante’s famous painting depicting Heraclitus and Democritus from the Pinacoteca di Brera, the marble busts of Homer and Cicero on loan from the Capitoline Museums in Rome and the Uffizi, will be on display at the exhibition, the two magnificent canvases by Dosso from the Canadian museum Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the American Chrysler Museum, and more works by Moretto, Salvator Rosa, Andrea Pozzo, Mattia Preti, Luca Giordano, Vincenzo Grandi, Albrecht Dürer and Jusepe de Ribera.

The panels will be compared on the one hand with paintings having the same subject but made by other painters, and on the other hand with works by Dosso and Battista Dossi executed shortly before or shortly after their years of activity in Trent, in order to focus attention on the collaboration of the two brothers. Finally, also in ideal connection with the identity of Dossi’s Sapienti, the itinerary will develop from a valuable series of busts depicting philosophers and scientists of the ancient world to include masterpieces from the late 16th and 17th centuries.

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Dosso and Battista Dossi together for an exhibition at Trento's Castello del Buonconsiglio
Dosso and Battista Dossi together for an exhibition at Trento's Castello del Buonconsiglio