Rubens a Palazzo Te. Pittura, trasformazione e libertà

10 OCTOBER 2023 – 07 JANUARY 2024

Fondazione Palazzo Te presents the exhibition “Rubens at Palazzo Te. Painting, transformation and freedom”, held from 7 October 2023 to 7 January 2024 in the Giuliesca villa in Mantua. The exhibition curated by Raffaella Morselli with the collaboration of Cecilia Paolini illustrates the path of the Flemish artist, highlighting how the Renaissance intellectual suggestions developed in the Mantuan and Italian years continued, evolving, in the painting of his maturity, to settle as an artistic legacy in his students.

The works exhibited at Palazzo Te highlight the dialogue with the myths and the interpretation of Giulio Romano and, no less, the never-interrupted harmony with the Renaissance and the mythological fable: it is here that Rubens transforms his world into a language universal capable of speaking to all the courts of Europe. The imaginary population of divinities and ancient texts invented and cited by Giulio Romano were the ideal training ground for the cultured Rubens. Under the roof of Palazzo Te, the artist’s conversion from Flemish to Italian took place: Rubens is the new universal man, who goes beyond religious, geographical and political boundaries, to invent a new language which is, to all intents and purposes, international . A European figurative language, the first in the history of art.

“The cultured universal humanist Pieter Paul Rubens, educated in literature in the free territories of what was Lotharingia, with his head buzzing with the Greek and Latin readings he learned in his homeland, arrives in the ducal city of Gonzaga in the hot and humid summer of August 1600″.

Divided into twelve sections that follow the museum’s tour itinerary, the exhibition project delves into the most fascinating and prolific themes of Rubens’ thought – from myth to the idyll of nature, to the challenge of power, from Julius’ lesson to Roman history and philosophy that generates civilization – presenting them to the public through a corpus of over fifty works on loan from the most prestigious Italian and international museums, including the Musée du Louvre, the Museo Nacional del Prado, the National Gallery of Denmark and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Alongside an extraordinary selection of over fifteen works by Rubens – among these Achilles discovered by Ulysses among the daughters of Lycomedes by the Prado, Christ on the cross by the KMSKA and Romulus and Remus suckled by the she-wolf of the Capitoline Museums – a collection of engravings from the Graphics Institute of Rome and drawings by Giulio Romano from the Louvre which were part of the Flemish collection; the entire series of decorations in the main hall of the house of Jacob Jordaens, the master’s favorite pupil, borrowed from the room of Cupid and Psyche in Palazzo Te, exhibited for the first time in Italy; and other important canvases by painters linked to the artist, such as his colleague Jan Brueghel the Elder, and collaborators Theodor van Thulden, Sebastian Vrancx and David Teniers (The Younger).

“It is a story that unites Giulio Romano and Rubens in their ability to creatively transform tradition; it is the story of the reverberation had over time, up to the seventeenth century and beyond, by the painting of Giulio Romano and Palazzo Te; it is evidence of how the “practice of freedom” typical of painting is a precious feature of European culture, including contemporary ones.”