Raphael's father on display: a major exhibition all about Giovanni Santi in Urbino

From November 30, 2018 to March 17, 2019, the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche in Urbino is hosting a major exhibition on Giovanni Santi, known to most as Raphael's father.

The Galleria Nazionale delle Marche in Urbino is hosting, from November 30, 2018 to March 17, 2019, a major exhibition dedicated to Giovanni Santi (Colbordolo, c. 1440 - Urbino, 1494), one of the most important painters of the Marche region in the 15th century, but best known to most for being the father of the great Raphael Sanzio. His figure was in fact decisively marked by the negative judgment of Giorgio Vasari, as well as debased by comparison with the exceptional artistic stature of his son, and for this reason Giovanni Santi remained in the shadows for centuries and is still little known even today, even after the fundamental studies of a scholar like Ranieri Varese.

The exhibition, entitled Giovanni Santi. "Da poi... me dette alla mirabil arte de pictura, " will help restore the proper role of the artist in that Urbino context that constituted an indispensable moment of approach to Raphael’s training and visual culture. Giovanni Santi’s multifaceted humanistic personality, demonstrated by his extensive literary production, will be evidenced by the original manuscript of his masterpiece, the Cronaca rimata, from the Vatican Library and visible in the exhibition. And from the Vatican, the San Girolamo will also arrive in Urbino, which together with works from the National Gallery in London, the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and almost all those present on site or coming from the territory, will attempt to make visible that network of relationships and mutual artistic interference that affected the Urbino environment in the age of Frederick.

Urbino, Giovanni Santi’s homeland, and the Ducal Palace, at which the painter was very active, will see the entire pictorial cycle originally conceived for the Tempietto delle Muse returned to the public for the duration of the exhibition: the eight panels (seven representing the Muses and one Apollo) by Giovanni Santi and Timoteo Viti, lent by Palazzo Corsini in Florence, will be relocated within their original setting. And testifying to the cultural context in which Giovanni Santi worked, coeval works such as Perugino ’sAnnunciation of Fano or one of Melozzo da Forlì ’s Angeli Musicanti from the Pinacoteca Vaticana will be presented alongside masterpieces by Piero della Francesca, Giusto di Gand, Pedro Berruguete and all the others already in the collections of the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche. And again, works of sculpture, such as the Madonna and Child from the Pinacoteca Civica in Jesi by Domenico Rosselli, who was already active in the Urbino palace building site for Duke Federico da Montefeltro, or theinlaid kneeler from the Oliva Chapel in the church of San Francesco di Montefiorentino in Frontino (of which the 1489 altarpiece will also be on display) that will flank the extraordinary inlays of the Studiolo and the precious doors of the ducal apartment.

The exhibition’s curators, Maria Rosaria Valazzi and Agnese Vastano, thus intend to help put the figure of Giovanni Santi back in the proper historical perspective he deserves: Redeeming from oblivion the critical capacity demonstrated by the Disputa de la pictura, demonstrating the entrepreneurial skills that were able to characterize the intense productive activity divided between works of great commitment and “serial” achievements of small format, and analyzing the technical aspects that characterized the material quality of Santi’s production.

Parallel to the exhibition hosted in the Ducal Palace in Urbino, an itinerary will be published to discover those works by Giovanni Santi that, being immovable, remained in their original locations distributed throughout the territory. Particularly in Urbino, in addition to the Ducal Palace the House of Raphael where Giovanni Santi lived with his teenage son is involved, as well as the Tiranni Chapel in the church of San Domenico in Cagli, the altarpiece of the Visitation in the church of Santa Maria Nova in Fano and the Madonna and Child with Saints Helen, Zacharias, Sebastian and Rochus in the Pinacoteca Civica in Fano and other numerous sites in the Marche region.

The exhibition can be visited during the opening hours of the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche: Tuesdays through Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. (ticket office closing at 6:15 p.m.), Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (ticket office closing at 1 p.m.). Closed on December 25 and January 1. Tickets: full 8 euros, reduced 5 euros, 1 euro reservation fee. Annual pass 19 euros, integrated ticket Gallery + Rocca di Gradara 12 euros full, 6 euros reduced (valid five days from date of issue). For all info see the website of the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche.

Raphael's father on display: a major exhibition all about Giovanni Santi in Urbino
Raphael's father on display: a major exhibition all about Giovanni Santi in Urbino

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