Italian art: Accademia Carrara

Jun 12, 2015 1481

WTI Magazine #62    2015 June, 12
Author : Enrico De Iulis      Translation by: John Cabot University


The renovating wave of Milan EXPO is reaching also its neighborhood. The Accademia Carrara of Bergamo reopens after eight years of 11 million euro restoration and modernization. The story of this important museum begins in 1783, when Giacomo Carrara, a patron based in Bergamo, founded an academy (Accademia Carrara) with the intent of supporting and promoting Bergamo's pictorial tradition. Twelve years later, a Pinacoteca containing mainly Carrara's art collection rose alongside the Accademia.

At the time of his death, Carrara left the Pinacoteca to a commission of nobles who would have managed it. In 1810, the commission asked the architect Simone Elia to build the neoclassical building that still houses the museum. However, a few years later, a grave shortage of funds dramatically reduced the main collection: 2000 out of 2500 paintings were sold through an auction.
Several Bergamo's collectors, such as Guglielmo Lochis, Giovanni Morelli, and the great art historian Federico Zeri, gave an important help to the Accademia with their legacies. In particular, Federico Zeri donated an important amount of sculptures from his collection.

The Accademia is one of the most interesting museums of the history of European collecting. The new arrangement and the new criteria for its realization have been problematic, considering the doubling of the exhibition halls and the exterior and interior restoration with new lightings. This solution has been very effective and has taken into account both the history of the academy and that of the great protagonists of the collection. Accordingly, it dedicates monothematic rooms to Lorenzo Lotto and Giovanni Battista Moroni.
The museum is temporarily exhibiting works by Palma the Elder, a prominent figure of the Venetian Renaissance, which touched not only Venice but also Bergamo, Padua, Verona, and Vicenza – being them part of the Venetian Republic.

Originally named Jacopo Nigretti, Palma the Elder was born in Val Brembana in 1480. Having the same age of Titian and Giorgione, the critics have wrongly compared him to the greatness and masterfulness of the two Venetian painters. Despite being an important figure of the Venetian cinquecento, Palma does not equal the high level of Titian and Giorgione, who, in effect, revolutionized the color-technique.

After Giorgione's death (1510), like many other artists, Palma moved to Venice. He was adopting a new pictorial fashion, painting women and Holy Conversations with a translucent and glazed film. The richness of colors and the personifications of the flora and the female beauty achieved great fortune. They were indeed symptom of that change in taste that spread from Venice throughout Europe thanks also to Jacopo Nigretti. An example is the Thyssen Bornemisza collection in Madrid that houses two works of Palma the Elder.

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