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UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Opens Rome, Naples, Venice: Italian Masterworks from the Collection

The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents Rome, Naples, Venice: Italian Masterworks from the BAM/PFA Collection, on view uly 6, 2011 – October 15, 2011.

When BAM/PFA was founded in the mid-1960s, among the earliest and most important works acquired were paintings and works on paper by Italian artists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These have remained enduring cornerstones of the collection. In celebration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Italian Republic, we present Rome, Naples, Venice: Italian Masterworks from the BAM/PFA Collection. This exhibition brings together striking works by Michelangelo da Caravaggio, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Giambattista Tiepolo, Carlo Maratta, Giovanni Caracciolo, and Giuseppe Cesari (called Il Cavaliere d’Arpino), among others, that reflect a vibrant range of artistic innovation from three of Italy’s great cities.

The works selected for this exhibition express the diversity of the Mannerist and Baroque eras. The Roman Mannerist artist D’Arpino, for example, was distinguished as a brilliant colorist, as is evident in his striking Judith with Head of Holofernes (1603–1606). For a short period in the early 1590s, D’Arpino employed the young Caravaggio, newly arrived in Rome, to paint flowers and fruit. Caracciolo, a Neapolitan follower of Caravaggio, helped to popularize the dramatic and naturalistic Caravaggesque style, as in The Young Saint John in the Wilderness (1610–1620). In the 1620s and 1630s, he contributed many important works to the churches of Naples. Nearly a century later in Venice, Tiepolo became renowned for his grand fresco paintings. In his large-scale commissioned works as well as his intimate drawings and studies, Tiepolo excelled at a luminosity and fluidity of color associated with the Venetian region. Flying Female Figure (c. 1744) is one of numerous drawings he carried out in preparation for his religious paintings. This simple, graceful ink-and-wash drawing does not definitively relate to a particular figure, but typifies Tiepolo’s exquisitely concise draftsmanship and dramatic evocation of the human form in space.

Lucinda Barnes
Chief Curator and Director of Programs and Collections

Image: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo: Flying Female Figure, c. 1744; pen, ink, and wash on paper; 10 9/16 × 7 15/16 in.; museum purchase.

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