From June 15th to August 2017, the Palp – Palazzo Pretorio of Pontedera will host two extraordinary paintings by Goya and one by Guido Reni, from Tuesday to Sunday from 17 to 23. Entry is free. The exhibition is curated by Pierluigi Carofano and is promoted by the foundation for the Pontedera culture and the town of Pontedera, with the contribution of the Pisa foundation, in collaboration with the free academy of caravaggeschi studies ‘Francesco Maria Cardinal del Monte’ Research, Friends of the Museums and Monuments of Pisa, and with the patronage of the Tuscany Region.
The paintings by Francisco Goya, one of the greatest European artists of his time, are two self-portraits, made about ten years away. Two masterpieces that after Pontedera will go to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, in spring 2018, for the exhibition ‘Goya, the maturing of a genius’. The chronologically ‘oldest’ self-portrait, dated 1771, (oil on canvas, cm 62×42), is the Youth Self-Portrait, probably performed by the painter while still in Italy. The painting seems to sum up all the experiences that young Goya had learned during his Roman stay (1669-1771), and in particular the teachings that Pombrillo Batoni’s frequentation could have suggested to the portrait. It is interesting to note how, from this first test, he has been able to detach himself sharply from the enfatic ways and always ‘posing’ of encomiastic portraiture to offer us an image that is ever natural and lively of himself. The painting, which was already at the City Art Museum in St. Louis, remained for many years in shadow compared to its later replica of the Goya Museum in Zaragoza, since it was heavily restored in the nineteenth century by the restorer Marcellino de Unceta. Released by the paintings, he exhibited all his high-quality pictorial quality.
The second self-portrait on display, circa 1782 (oil on canvas, cm 52.5×43.4), was rediscovered recently in a prestigious private collection. Dirt prevented any critical reading. Once painted with old paints and paintings, the painting has shown its true face of outstanding beauty, also revealing in the lower left corner a surprising signature red color ‘Goya’ that, for its proven authenticity, makes it unmistakable, If the high quality of the painting was not enough, its attribution to the great Aragonese painter. The expressive force of the face is accompanied by an unprecedented pictorial force: for the thickness of the dough and the treatment of pictorial matter, the most painted face seems carved. Because of his profile with the contour bust, the face facing the spectator and his particular somatic features, this portrait is directly related to two other works of the artist that repeat such a typology and with which it is naturally to be compared: Self Portrait of Agen Museum and his portrait inserted in the great palace of the San Francisco el grande church in Madrid.
The third painting is a Susanna and the Vecchioni (oil on canvas, cm 100×146), the unusual novelty of the Bolognese master Guido Reni. The canvas belongs to the novel of the ‘unfinished’ works, left by the same artist in the sketch, as a deliberate choice that returns systematically in the stage of the painter’s career in relation to precise expressive research aimed at pursuing an increasingly dematerialized painting And idealized. In this case, the composition repeats an invention already known through the same subject of the National Gallery in London, performed on the 1920s, in respect of which the canvas is a real exercise Rewriting and programmed expressive revision. In the paintings proposed at Pontedera, the brushstroke exhibits a little compact texture, leaving the free brush evolution in a game of studied counterweight between full and empty, in which also the color of preparation takes on a protagonist role. For these characteristics, the painting should be the last stage of the artist, bearing in mind, however, that the practice of ‘unfinished’, as indicated by the choice of monochrome programmed from the beginning, does not belong only to his last years and that , The absence of a picture of this subject from the list of paintings left unfinished to his death obliges him to think that at that date the picture had already come out of the atelier as a work perfectly approved by him.
In the scientific care of the exhibition and the creation of catalogs, as well as in the preparation of the didactics, Professor Pierluigi Carofano, professor of theory and history of restoration at the school of specialization in artistic historical assets of the University of Siena, availed Of the collaboration of Paolo Erasmo Mangiante, a scholar of Francisco Goya, of Marco Ciampolini.