Giulio Romano's major exhibition in Mantua. Here's what we'll see this fall at the Ducal Palace

From October 6, 2019 to January 6, 2020, Palazzo Ducale in Mantua is hosting a major exhibition dedicated to Giulio Romano. Here is what you will be able to see.

Mantua will dedicate, from October 6, 2019 to January 6, 2020, in the halls of the Ducal Palace, a major exhibition to Giulio Romano (pseudonym of Giulio Pippi de’ Jannuzzi, Rome, 1492 or 1499 - Mantua, 1546), the most talented of Raphael’s pupils. The exhibition will be titled Con nuova e stravagante maniera. Giulio Romano in Mantua and will be the result of a collaboration between the Palazzo Ducale Museum Complex in Mantua and the Musée du Louvre in Paris. The exhibition was presented on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at a press conference held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities in Rome. Present at the meeting were Tiziana Coccoluto, chief of Cabinet of the Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Peter Assmann, director of the Ducal Palace Museum Complex in Mantua, Xavier Salmon, director of the Département des Arts graphiques of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, and Carlo Togliani, delegate of the pro-rector of the Mantua Territorial Pole of the Milan Polytechnic.

Bringing the minister’s greetings, Tiziana Coccoluto emphasized “the scientific and cultural importance of the operation that, around the figure of Giulio Romano, will make the city of Mantua dialogue with the territory, so rich in Giulio Romano’s testimonies.”

For his part, Peter Assmann said that “the initiative aims to be a great cultural event that shows the world the exceptional historical figure of Raphael’s most famous pupil and heir. A master of Mannerism, Giulio Romano left in Mantua extraordinary testimonies of his talent as a painter, architect and man of culture. ”In a New and Extravagant Manner," with the prestigious collaboration of a renowned European institution such as the Louvre, represents an important chance for the city: to go beyond the traditional conception of a temporary exhibition to bring together all the local productive forces around the Ducal Palace and strengthen the image of Mantua as a city of art in Europe and the world. Beyond its specific cultural importance, this is an opportunity to network all together toward one great goal of collective growth."

“We expect,” concluded Peter Assmann, “that the exhibition will bring a considerable number of art lovers to the city and confirm the Ducal Palace venue as a favorite destination for cultural tourism, which this year has seen more than 300,000 people pass through its splendid rooms.”

“With its 300 drawings by Giulio Romano and students from his workshop,” said Xavier Salmon, “the collection of the Musée du Louvre in Paris is the largest in the world among those known to date. Just over half of this ensemble comes from the purchase, made in 1671 for the royal collections of Louis XIV. The 72 drawings that the Louvre will lend for the exhibition will be able to restore the greatness of this artist and trace his entire career. This exhibition, through the preparatory drawings for the decorative apparatus of the Ducal Palace, aims to recreate today the links between the works and the places. These sheets will be exceptionally compared with the finished works in order to illustrate the relationship that, at the time, bound the master, collaborators and pupils, including Fermo Ghisoni, Rinaldo Mantovano and, above all, Giovan Battista Bertani.”

Carlo Togliani recalled that "the Mantua Pole of the Milan Polytechnic University has consolidated its collaboration with the Ducal Palace by making its expertise available both in the elaboration of the scientific project of the exhibition and through an exhibition of the outcomes of the didactic and research activities on Giulio Romano’s interventions in the Gonzaga Palace; in this regard, a reconstruction of the Paleologa, a building executed on Giulio’s project at the behest of Federico II Gonzaga and destroyed at the end of the 19th century, will be conceived and realized."

The project drawn up by the scientific committee (composed of Peter Assmann, Laura Angelucci, Paolo Bertelli, Renato Berzaghi, Paolo Carpeggiani, Sylvia Ferino, Augusto Morari, Roberta Serra and Luisa Onesta Tamassia) involves the Département des Arts Graphiques of the Musée du Louvre, which, for the first time, will lend a nucleus of seventy-two drawings, which will trace, in an organic and complete manner, Giulio Romano’s professional career, from his beginnings in Rome to his long and intense activity in Mantua, highlighting the multiplicity of his interests.

Indeed, his multifaceted genius was expressed in extremely varied artistic forms and disciplines, from architecture to painting, from tapestries to goldsmithing, finding a common denominator in the practice of drawing, in which Giulio excelled from his formative years in Raphael’s workshop.

Alongside the works from the Louvre, the exhibition will feature a further rich selection of drawings, from the most important Italian and foreign museum collections (including the Albertina in Vienna, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle), as well as paintings, prints and majolica. The latest digital technologies will also be used in order to recreate, through 3D reconstructions, Juliesque objects and environments.

The exhibition will be divided into three sections that will explore different aspects of Giulio Romano’s activity by highlighting the “new and extravagant manner” of his art, according to the definition coined by Giorgio Vasari in Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects.

The first, Il segno di Giulio, set up on the ground floor of the Castello di San Giorgio, will analyze Giulio’s graphic production as a planner, designer, painter, architect and urban planner, presenting his fundamental contribution to the elaboration of Mannerist language. From architectural interventions to sketches for paintings and objects, every single sign is an absolute novelty to be translated, copied and imitated. Giulio’s creative force will be examined through a selection from the corpus of drawings preserved at the Musée du Louvre in Paris. The exhibition will give an account of the moments immediately preceding his arrival in the Gonzaga city and of Giulio Romano’s long activity in Mantua, through his work as draughtsman and designer, the results of which recount the beauty of his sign and the evolution of his work, and delve into his experiences for the various construction sites in the city, the territory and outside the Mantuan state, as evidenced by the drawings for Palazzo Te.

The first section will close by investigating his relationship with the arts and the transition between the design phase and its realization. The drawings on display here deal with Pippi’s activity as an architect, designer, inventor of gardens and urban planner for the city, taking care to address Giulio’s wide-ranging production. The exhibition will feature a dozen or so sheets related to paintings and objects such as tableware or triumphs.

The section entitled Al modo di Giulio, will occupy the Corte Nuova and the Appartamento di Troia, suggesting a direct dialogue between the artist’s drawings and the decoration of the Gonzaga residence. The Ducal Palace was the site where Giulio Romano poured his genius and ability to innovate. Room by room, where it is still possible, a relationship will be established between his drawings and the actual rooms. This is the case, for example, in the Hall of Horses where the preparatory drawing for the ceiling decoration with the Fall of Icarus will be on display , a comparison that will be appreciable through a mirror.

The exhibition will also feature the reliefs made by Ippolito Andreasi known as l’Andreasino that have handed down the original appearance of the rooms designed by Julius, which are particularly important for deepening the understanding of the parts that have not survived the centuries. This is the case for the Camerino dei Cesari and the Loggia dei marmi known later as the Loggia dei Mesi, rooms for which Andreasi’s drawings allow a direct comparison between Giulio Romano’s idea and what survives in the rooms themselves.

The exhibition will close in the Appartamento della Rustica with Alla maniera di Giulio, in which, on the one hand, the theme of Giulio Romano the architect will be explored in depth, analyzed thanks to numerous drawings from prestigious European public institutions, including Andrea Palladio’s Copy from Giulio Romano (London, Royal Institute of British Achitects), and, on theother, that of his legacy, with the works of pupils and disciples, such as Fermo Ghisoni, Giovanni Battista Bertani, Lorenzo Costa and others. This section will create an in-depth look at Pippi’s houses, particularly the one in Mantua, while the Sala dei Frutti will feature some altarpieces executed by artists from Giulio Romano’s circle compared with the master’s original drawings.

The exhibition has obtained the support of various partners, entities and productive forces in the Mantuan territory: the cultural operation has set itself the goal from the outset to involve the main energies of the local context by structuring a rich calendar of events starting in the spring months of 2019 throughout the continuation of the year.

Among the initiatives related to the Giulio Romano exhibition, the caspule collection curated by Lubiam, a Mantuan company and leader in high-end menswear, stands out for its high level of exclusivity and innovation.

Inspired by the close intertwining of art and fashion, the capsule will be designed by Giovanni and Giulia Bianchi, belonging to the fourth generation of the family and leading the company’s creative team. The garments dedicated to the exhibition will be designed by Luigi Bianchi Mantova Sartoria, a historic brand that is now synonymous with style and exclusivity. A strictly Made In Italy collection, distinguished by precious workmanship and the use of excellent quality materials. On this special occasion, the collection will see the birth within it of a selection of garments dedicated to the work of Giulio Romano, which does not suffer the effect of time but remains intact and current even today. The catalog will be published by Skira.

Pictured is the Sala di Troia in the Ducal Palace. © Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Ducal Palace Museum Complex, Mantua.

Giulio Romano's major exhibition in Mantua. Here's what we'll see this fall at the Ducal Palace
Giulio Romano's major exhibition in Mantua. Here's what we'll see this fall at the Ducal Palace

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