The quest for beauty: the Cavallini Sgarbi Collection on display in Ascoli.

Through Sept. 30, the Palazzo dei Capitani in Ascoli Piceno is hosting a selection from the Cavallini Sgarbi Collection: the exhibition is titled 'The Quest for Beauty.

“A private art collection is the foundation of a symbolic system, the creation of a gymnasium for the soul, a place where intimate, meditated and sometimes suffered choices materialize. It is often forgotten that its highest vocation is to welcome the public, to offer itself to the gaze, to tell its own story. ”Thus reads the presentation of the exhibition that brings a selection from the Cavallini Sgarbi Collection, the collection of art historian Vittorio Sgarbi and his mother Rina Cavallini, to the Palazzo dei Capitani in Ascoli Piceno until Sept. 30.

Entitled The Search for Beauty, the exhibition offers a four-century-long journey from the second half of the 15th century, bringing together the main works of the celebrated collection. The Search for Beauty is a project made possible thanks to the support of the Carisap Foundation and also enjoys the contribution of the Marche Region and the Municipality of Ascoli Piceno, as well as the Marche Chamber of Commerce and Bim Tronto. The exhibition, produced in collaboration with the Fondazione Cavallini Sgarbi, the Fondazione Elisabetta Sgarbi and the Associazione Culturalmente Insieme, is produced by Contemplazioni, which is also overseeing the artistic direction.

Inside the exhibition, one will breathe in the intimate atmosphere proper to a private collection, the result of Vittorio Sgarbi’s passionate 40-year “hunt,” carried out in tandem with his mother Rina Cavallini, who acquired the works at numerous auctions in every corner of the world. His “best man,” remembered by the critic in these words, “became an extension of my thought and life. I would point out the name of an artist, the place, the auction house. And she would punctually take aim and strike.”

Thus an anthology arrives at the Palazzo dei Capitani that aims to illustrate the identity of a vast and open collection: in the exhibition the public will see the terracottas of Matteo Civitali and Agostino de Fundulis, and a collection of paintings mostly on panel, executed in the late 15th and early 16th centuries: painters born or active in Ferrara (Boccaccio Boccaccino, Francesco Zaganelli, Giovanni Battista Benvenuti known as l’Ortolano, Nicolò Pisano, Benvenuto Tisi known as il Garofalo) are flanked by rare authors such as Liberale da Verona, Jacopo da Valenza, Antonio da Crevalcore, Giovanni Agostino da Lodi, Johannes Hispanus, Bartolomeo di David, and Lambert Sustris. The focus on the “Ferrara school” continues in the early 17th century with paintings by Sebastiano Filippi known as Bastianino, Ippolito Scarsella known as lo Scarsellino, Giuseppe Caletti and Carlo Bononi. At the same time, recognized masterpieces of seventeenth-century Italian painting will be on view, among which it is worth mentioning at least Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli known as Morazzone’s Magdalene Escorted by Angels, Guido Cagnacci’sAllegory of Time (Human Life), Jusepe Ribera’s Saint Jerome, and Giovanni Francesco Barbieri known as Guercino’s Portrait of Francesco Righetti. The latter painting, which “came home” in 2004 after being exhibited for years at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, stands at the apex of an extraordinary gallery of portraits that summarizes the development of the genre from theearly sixteenth century to the late nineteenth century, between painting and sculpture, from Lorenzo Lotto to Francesco Hayez, with specialists such as Bartolomeo Passerotti, Nicolas Régnier, Philippe de Champaigne, Giovan Battista Gaulli known as Baciccio, and Enrico Merengo. Equally compelling is the journey among “da stanza” paintings of sacred, allegorical and mythological themes from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: a selection of astonishing variety, and high quality, reflecting the collector’s boundless interests and frenzy of research, with masters from the Venetian school (Marcantonio Bassetti, Antonio and Bartolomeo Vivarini, Johann Carl Loth, Sebastiano Mazzoni, Giovanni Antonio Fumiani), Emilian (Simone Cantarini, Matteo Loves, Pietro Faccini, Marcantonio Franceschini, Ignaz Stern known as Ignazio Stella), Roman (Giuseppe Cesari known as Cavalier d’Arpino, Gian Domenico Cerrini, Angelo Caroselli, Pseudo Caroselli, Giusto Fiammingo, Alessandro Turchi known as l’Orbetto, Antonio Cavallucci), Tuscan (Giacinto Gimignani, Livio Mehus, Francesco Conti, Leonardo Grazia known as Leonardo da Pistoia, Alessandro Rosi, Pietro Paolini) and Marche ( Nicola Filotesio known as Cola dell’Amatrice, Giovanni Francesco Guerrieri). Closing the itinerary, with a temporal leap up to our century, is a twentieth-century painter who in many ways dialogues with the ancients: Giorgio Morandi whose work encapsulates the world, although he spent an existence in a kind of domestic reclusion.

“My mother, accomplice my brother first, myself later,” Elisabetta Sgarbi says instead, “made the house in Ro Ferrarese - a remote village below the Po embankment - the center of a complex and varied world, the goings-on of a theory of personalities that has marked Italian culture and beyond from the 1970s to the present day. And these forty years of voracious collecting, represented in these eighty works on display, are the soul of our house in Ro, a soul that crosses the physical walls of the house to return to its true home, which is the world.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with Fondazione Cavallini Sgarbi and to be able to donate an extraordinary exhibition, a unique event to our community that Fondazione Carisap always esteems, encourages and supports in its work,” says Angelo Davide Galeati, president of Fondazione Carisap. “The hope is that the exhibition will also be, for our territory, a symbol of restart and renewed confidence in reality.”

“Vittorio Sgarbi is a testimonial of the beauty of Ascoli, which he always exalts as soon as the opportunity arises, supporting at the institutional venues the cultural initiatives of the city and the territory,” stresses Ascoli Mayor Marco Fioravanti. “It is within this framework that the choice of electing the city of the Hundred Towers as the venue for a long exhibition of works belonging to the Cavallini Sgarbi Foundation, which brings together in the name of the art historian and his mother Rina Cavallini the fruits of their passionate research in the international antiques market. Indeed, thanks to their complicity, they created an extraordinary collection, often bringing back to our country what had gone missing.”

Ticket price: full 10 €, reduced 8 € (under 18, over 65, university students), reduced schools 5 €

The ticket office is located at the Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo, in Piazza del Popolo.

For all information you can call +39 380 3784163 or send an email to

The quest for beauty: the Cavallini Sgarbi Collection on display in Ascoli.
The quest for beauty: the Cavallini Sgarbi Collection on display in Ascoli.

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