The Baroque Art Of Italy At The Royal Collection Edinburgh

By Freya McClelland | 26 November 2008
Caravaggio's The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew c.1602-4. The painting has a dark background and shows three men in the forefront. The painting is in oil on canvas #&169 The Royal Collection

Caravaggio's The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew c. 1602-4 Oil on Canvas, Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Exhibition Preview: The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection, Edinburgh until March 8 2009

The drama of the Baroque period comes to Edinburgh in the second part of The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The exhibition reflects the stylistic diversity of the period in its collection of 31 painting and 43 drawings.

Caravaggio's Boy Peeling Fruit c.1592-93 Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II The painting shows a young boy sat in the foreground peeling fruit behind a dark background

Caravaggio's Boy Peeling Fruit c. 1592-93 Oil on Canvas, Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Highlights of the show include two powerful works by Caravaggio. The Calling of Saints of Peter and Andrew and Boy Peeling Fruit, both previously thought to be copies of lost originals.

Recent research by curators at The Royal Collection mean these two paintings have now been fully recognised and attributed to the master.

Seventeenth Century Italian art first entered The Royal Collection in the reign of Charles I when he purchased the entire collection of the Gonzaga Dukes of Mantua in 1626-9.

Domenico Fetti's David with the Head of Goliath c. 1620 The painting shows David sat down cluthing the head of Goliath. The painting is in oil on canvas, Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Domenico Fetti's David with the Head of Goliath c. 1620 Oil on Canvas, Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In this remarkable collection was Domenico’s Fetti’s powerful and gruesome David with the Head of Goliath and Anastasio’s Fontebuoni’s Madonna di Pistoia. Both of these works feature in the exhibition.

Although Charles I’s vast collection was sold off after his execution, his son Charles II was able to buy back a significant number in his own reign. These include Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Cristofano Allori, a chilling response to the end of the artist’s love affair, and Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self-Portrait as the Allegory to Painting.

Annibale Carracci's Head of a Man in Profile c. 1588-95 The head and shoulders of bearded young man in oil on canvas, Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Annibale Carracci's Head of a Man in Profile c. 1588-95 Oil on Canvas, Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Drawing was essential to the Baroque period and in this collection are compositional sketches, designs for alter pieces, frescoes, prints, sculpture and architecture, as well as finished works of art in their own right.

George III acquired the two most outstanding collections: those of Consul Joseph Smith in Venice and Cardinal Alessandro in Rome. These collections include Domenichino’s St. Jerome, Guido Reni’s Head of Christ and The head of an Oriental and Circe by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione.

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione's The head of an orientialist c.1655 A monotype drawing an elderly bearded man in profile wearing a turban, Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione's The head of an Oriental c.1655 monotype, Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Life drawing was the foundation of artistic practice in this period. A Seated Male by Ludovico Carracci’s Head of a Man in Profile is skilfully conveyed in just a few marks in charcoal and charcoal. Annibale’s Carracci’s Head of a Man in Profile is an example of the same technique but in the medium of oil.

Admission Prices: (includes audio tour) Adult £5:00; Over 60/Student £4:50; Under 17 £3:00

Closed December 25 and 25

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