Milan, 19 works by Antonello da Messina on display at Palazzo Reale

From February 21 to June 2, 2019, Palazzo Reale in Milan is hosting a monographic exhibition on Antonello da Messina.

From February 21 to June 2, 2019, Palazzo Reale in Milan is hosting Antonello da Messina, a monographic exhibition dedicated to one of the greatest painters of the Renaissance, Antonello da Messina (Messina, 1430 - 1479): in the halls of the Milanese institute, the exhibition, curated by Giovanni Carlo Federico Villa and resulting from a collaboration between the Region of Sicily and the Municipality of Milan, with the production of Palazzo Reale and MondoMostre Skira, brings together nineteen of the artist’s works, out of the thirty-five that are believed to be autographs. Among the masterpieces that the public can admire, include the celebrated Annunciation from Palazzo Abatellis, an icon not only of Antonello but of the entire fifteenth century, as well as the Saint Jerome from the National Gallery in London, the Portrait of a Man from the Mandralisca Foundation, the Crucifixion from Sibiu, the triptych from the Uffizi, theEcce Homo from the Alberoni College in Piacenza, Pa, as well as the Ritratto d’uomo from the Pinacoteca Malaspina in Pavia, the famous Ritratto Trivulzio arriving from the Museo Civico d’Arte Antica of Palazzo Madama in Turin, and ending with the Madonna and Child made by Antonello’s son Jacobello just a year after his father’s death and now kept at the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo.

Then there is a section that reconstructs the vicissitudes of the San Cassiano altarpiece, one of Antonello’s seminal works and today heavily lacunarated (it was in fact resected in the past) and housed at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, while a further section is devoted to Antonello’s fortunes. Complementing this are the notebooks and drawings of the great art historian Giovan Battista Cavalcaselle (Legnago, 1819 - Rome, 1897), author of the reconstruction of the first Antonello catalog, which guide the visitor through Antonello’s works: nineteen drawings (including seven notebooks and twelve sheets) are shown, arriving from the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice.

Then there is a focus devoted to the relationship between Antonello and Messina, and to the few documents concerning his life: the gap of evidence in his hometown is mainly due to the earthquakes that devastated Messina and other Sicilian cities over the centuries and erased works and evidence about the painter’s life. Cavalcaselle was in contact with a Messina scholar, Gaetano La Corte Cailler, who managed to find and transcribe notarial documents that testified to minute events in the painter’s family such as his grandmother’s will, the return by brig from Calabria of the painter’s little family, his daughter’s dowry, and even Antonello’s will finally dated February 1479.More of him was missing: a flood had scattered his bones in an ancient cemetery, multiple earthquakes had destroyed documentary evidence in Noto and other Sicilian towns.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog that includes all images of existing and recognized works by Antonello da Messina, with writings by Giovanni Carlo Federico Villa, Renzo Villa and Gioacchino Barbera, and five literary texts by Roberto Alajmo, Nicola Gardini, Jumpa Lahiri, Giorgio Montefoschi and Elisabetta Rasy.

“Thanks to prestigious loans from the most important national and international museums,” says Filippo Del Corno, councillor for culture of the City of Milan, “the work of Antonello da Messina is the protagonist in the rooms of Palazzo Reale with an important curatorial project. A significant nucleus of works offers the stimulating and fascinating opportunity to confront the reconstruction of the artist’s vision, through the stages of his training and the relationship of mutual influence with the Nordic world; Flemish, and that of Veneto and Lombardy. An itinerary of remarkable depth, thanks to an accurate scientific project, is the one that takes us inside the painting of the master of the 15th-century portrait, flanked by the writings of the reconstructions and rediscoveries of Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle, the first to attempt to retrace the artistic production of this great painter, which time, history and various vicissitudes had dispersed, fueling a vision that was instead ’mythical’ and at the same time distorted.”

“The Antonello da Messina exhibition has brought together the most important paintings of the Sicilian master in Palermo, in the museum and in the city where the Annunciata, the most synthesized painting of his entire production, is located,” said Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily Region’s culture councilor. “With the second stop in Milan, the exhibition is enriched with that added value, necessary for operations of this cultural depth. If in Palermo, in the prestigious venue of Palazzo Abatellis, an exhibition space that in fact participated fully in the event, the exhibition provided a reinterpretation of Antonello da Messina through the analysis of the relationships, similarities and differences with the works of the masters who had a fundamental weight in his formation, in this Milanese venue everything is enriched not only with new works compared to the Sicilian exhibition, but also with other interpretations of the work of the master from Messina.”

The exhibition opens Mondays from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m., other days from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Thursdays and Saturdays until 10:30 p.m.). Last admission one hour before closing. Monday, April 22 special opening 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 1 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets: 14 euros full, 12 euros reduced (18-25 years old, over 65, disabled, groups of minimum 15 and maximum 25 people, conventioned), 6 euros special reduced (schools, groups organized by TCI and FAI, non-accredited journalists and other conventioned), free for children under 6, tour guides, accredited journalists, other conventioned. For info visit Finestre Sull’Arte will review the exhibition soon.

Pictured are three works by Antonello da Messina: TheAnnunciation (1475-1476; tempera and oil on panel, 45 × 34.5 cm; Palermo, Regional Gallery of Sicily, Palazzo Abatellis), ph. credit Giulio Archinà; Ecce Homo (1475; oil on panel, 48.5 × 38 cm; Piacenza, Alberoni College), ph. credit Foto Scala Florence; Portrait of a Man (c. 1470; oil on panel, 30.5 × 26.3 cm; Cefalù, Mandralisca Foundation Museum), ph. credit Giulio Archinà.

Milan, 19 works by Antonello da Messina on display at Palazzo Reale
Milan, 19 works by Antonello da Messina on display at Palazzo Reale

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