The Italians
three centuries of Italian art opens

THE ITALIANS: THREE CENTURIES OF ITALIAN ART is surely the greatest old master exhibition ever to come to Australia – for the first time an exhibition brings together more than 100 works from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in Italy that include masterpieces by Titian, Caravaggio, Canaletto and Tiepolo.

The Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries in Italy saw extraordinary developments in the history of art. The exhibition begins with examples of High Renaissance art, including the Head of Christ (c.1495, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan), the truly wonderful study drawing for the wall painting of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Although overpainted with pastels, it is one of the most recognised images in world art.

This is an exhibition replete with immense colour and substance, characteristics of the famous artists of the Venetian school - Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, Bassano and Bordone. There are three works by Titian, known as the Prince of Painters, including Sacred Conversation: Madonna and Child with St Catherine, St Dominic and the Donor from Fondazione Magnani-Rocco – a masterpiece and destined to be a show-stopper.

Perhaps the greatest portrait in the exhibition is Moroni’s ‘Cavalier in Pink’. Moroni’s mastery

of composition, drapery and facial features has rarely been matched and his realistic portrayals have a remarkable suffused lighting and grey tonality.

The arrival of Caravaggio proved revolutionary in Italian art. Although favoured with commissions he was regarded as a wayward personality – but today he is considered an artistic genius – and exhibitions with only one of his major works are a huge success.

In THREE CENTURIES OF ITALIAN ART there are three Caravaggio’s - St Francis from Ministero dell’Interno in Rome, St John the Baptist from Galleria Corsini and Narcissus from the Palazzo Barberini - the last a work about which there has been much controversy, considered by some art historians to be a quintessential Caravaggio and by some others as not by the master. However, who but Caravaggio could have painted this brilliant psychological study?

“This exhibition is a visual feast, a treasure house of masterpieces. The entire collection of works offers incontrovertible evidence of the genius of Italian art, one of the great contributions to world culture”, said Dr Brian Kennedy, Director of the National Gallery of Australia at the preview of the exhibition in Canberra today.

THE ITALIANS: THREE CENTURIES OF ITALIAN ART is organised by Artificio Skira of Milan,

in association with the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. It is curated by the Arte e Civiltà Fondazione Culturale Lombarda and the Soprintendenza of Rome, under the direction of Professor Claudio Strinati.

In Melbourne THE ITALIANS will be shown at the Melbourne Museum, in association with the National Gallery of Victoria, from 5 July to 6 October 2002.

“We are thrilled to bring this magnificent exhibition to both Canberra and Melbourne”, said Harold Mitchell, Chairman of the National Gallery of Australia and President of the Museums Board of Victoria. “The Italian organisers especially wanted the exhibition to travel to both cities, so we were delighted to be able to accommodate, at the new Melbourne Museum, what will be one of the best ever exhibitions to travel to Australia’, he said.

THE ITALIANS: THREE CENTURIES OF ITALIAN ART is sponsored by Tenix, in association with Art Indemnity Australia, Channel 7, Qantas, Artificio Skira, the Provincia di Roma –Assessorato alla Cultura e Politiche Giovanili, Novotel Canberra, International Art Services and De Borteli.

For further information please contact:

Public Affairs, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra: tel. (02) 6240 6431.

Public Relations, Melbourne Museum, tel. (03) 8341 7726.

Download Electronic Press kit

Windows ZIP file (9.25 Mb)
Macintosh SIT file (9.25 Mb)

Images x 6 jpg's (300dpi) approx 15-20cm high
Press release (MS Word)
Comprehensive list of Works (MS Word)

CD-ROMs of key images are available on request.