Works of art injured (and restored) by the 2016 earthquake on display in Senigallia

From Oct. 15, 2020, to Jan. 31, 2021, Senigallia will host the last stage of the 'Renaissance of the Marche' exhibition showcasing restored works affected by the 2016 earthquake.

Going on stage in Senigallia, from October 15, 2020, to January 31, 2021, at the Palazzo del Duca is the third and final stage of the exhibition Rinascimento marchigiano. Works of Art Restored from Earthquake Sites curated by Stefano Papetti and Pierluigi Moriconi, the result of the agreement signed by ANCI Marche and Pio Sodalizio dei Piceni in 2017, which engaged in an important work of recovery of damaged works of art (you can read a rich interview by Finestre sull’Arte with the two curators here). In collaboration with the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio of the Marche region, a nucleus of 51 works from the Marche region owned by 17 different public and ecclesiastical entities in the provinces of Ascoli Piceno, Fermo and Macerata have been identified for recovery and restoration.

In Senigallia the exhibition is enriched with respect to the first two stages, reaching 40 works on display and in particular, for the first time after the earthquake, the entire cycle by Jacobello del Fiore with the Scenes from the Life of Saint Lucy from the Palazzo dei Priori in Fermo, which was partially presented in the previous stages, is reassembled. These are eight panels made between 1420 and 1425 depicting the stories of St. Lucy where the representation punctually follows the text of the Golden Legend, an important hagiographic source by Jacopo da Varazze. Starting from Lucia, a noblewoman from Syracuse, who goes to the tomb of St. Agatha with her ailing mother hoping to receive her healing, to the violent martyrdom suffered by the young woman for refusing to deny the Christian faith, each scene is realized with great detail and with an attention to architectural structures that testify to the artist’s adherence to the courtly Gothic style in vogue in northernItaly, a style in which the expressive force of faces typical of Jacobello emerges.

The recent restorations carried out on the cycle have been very important because they have made it possible to state with certainty that it is a folding altarpiece, where the panels could if necessary be folded back on top of each other to reveal the relics placed in a niche at the back, and not a dossal as historiography has always maintained.

Another specimen of great cultural value recovered and displayed in the exhibition is the bell datable to the 13th century and most likely made for the canonization of St. Francis in 1228: it is the oldest Franciscan bell that has come down to our day. It was originally located in the church of San Francesco in Borgo, a hamlet of Arquata del Tronto, and is now preserved in the storerooms of the Malatesta Fortress in Ascoli Piceno after it was rescued in 2016 thanks to the coordination of the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio delle Marche and theCarabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the intervention of the Fire Brigade, which descended from a helicopter into the rubble. The importance of this bell is such that in 2017 it was displayed in the exhibition Facciamo presto. Marche 2016 - 2017: treasures saved, treasures to be saved, created by the Uffizi to raise funds for earthquake damage and restoration.

Also of great historical and artistic significance are a stauroteca, containing a fragment of the true cross, and a pair of reliquaries, made in the 18th century by silversmith Pietro Bracci, a Roman by origin but very active in the Marche region. These are specimens representing the excellence of Roman Baroque goldsmithing, originally owned by the Sgariglia family and now part of the property of the municipality of Ascoli Piceno.

The other works on display “range from the 15th to the 18th century, some of high devotional and not historical-artistic value and others of great historical-artistic value,” as curator Stefano Papetti explains. These include wooden crucifixes and vesperbilds of German scope, which are still found inside churches today as objects of worship. However, there is no shortage of other important names such as Cola dell’Amatrice, whose Nativity with Saints Jerome, Francis, Anthony of Padua and James della Marca from the sacristy of the Church of San Francesco in Ascoli Piceno stands out. And again from Rome Giovanni Baglione and Giovanni Serodine, who from Switzerland followed Caravaggio’s example in the capital. All authors of undoubted fame who were born or stayed in the Marche region and contributed to changing the geography of Art History.

The restoration interventions were carried out by technicians all from the Marche region, in collaboration with the University ofCamerino and the University of Urbino and the scientific direction of the Soprintendenza, which, with innovative diagnostic analyses assessed the state of conservation of each work. These interventions not only made it possible to remedy the damage suffered by the works, but also enabled new attributions to be made and new knowledge to be acquired regarding the painting technique and materials used by the artists, increasing the knowledge that was held on this heritage and paving the way for new studies. To account for these new acquisitions, the catalog was produced by placing alongside the art historical record of the work the report of the restoration work and the results of the diagnostic investigations that preceded it.

The traveling exhibition Marche Renaissance. Works of Art Restored from Earthquake Sites represents a journey into the religiosity of the Marche region through a fascinating stylistic and iconographic journey that had already been defined by Federico Zeri and Pietro Zampetti as Adriatic culture, but since its planning it has had a broader objective, namely to make the restored works permanently usable, as Pierluigi Moriconi of the Marche Region’s Superintendency of Architectural Heritage and curator of the exhibition explains: “Once the exhibitions are over, the works that cannot be relocated to their original locations because they have collapsed or have not yet been restored will be placed in 8 storage facilities and there they will always be available to the public.”

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Pictured is a detail of the Martyrdom of St. Lucy by Jacobello del Fiore.

Works of art injured (and restored) by the 2016 earthquake on display in Senigallia
Works of art injured (and restored) by the 2016 earthquake on display in Senigallia

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