We The Italians | Italian art: Giulio Romano

Italian art: Giulio Romano

Italian art: Giulio Romano

  • WTI Magazine #123 Jan 19, 2020
  • 177

Giulio Pippi De Iannuzzi, known to Art History as Giulio Romano, probably born in Rome in 1492, was Raphael's most famous and gifted pupil. He was trained in the workshop of the Urbino area, which now we know to have been a sort of pole of the arts where every artistic expression, from sculpture to painting, from engraving to ceramics, was managed with entrepreneurial flair by Raphael himself.

Upon Sanzio's death in 1520, all his students took up different careers and many of them moved to other cities, spreading Raphael's unmistakable style throughout Europe. Giulio Romano arrived in Mantua in 1524, through the intercession of Baldassarre Castiglioni, where he found a second home, becoming the extraordinary interpreter of the power and ambitions of Prince Federico II Gonzaga. Today Mantua is home in Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo Te of two major exhibitions dedicated to this great artist. At Palazzo Ducale is in fact scheduled the exhibition “Con nuova e stravagante maniera. Giulio Romano a Mantova” (With a new and extravagant way. Giulio Romano in Mantua) which aims to illustrate the figure of the Roman painter and his "way" of making art.

The exhibition, the result of collaboration between the Palazzo Ducale Museum and the Musée du Louvre, will present 72 drawings from the Département des Arts Graphiques of the Musée du Louvre, which is lending them for the first time. These drawings will be used to retrace Giulio Romano's career, from his debut in Rome alongside Raphael, to the apotheosis of Mantua, highlighting his versatile and multifaceted personality. There will also be paintings, prints, majolica and other drawings from various Italian and international museums (including the Albertina in Vienna, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle).

The exhibition has three sections. The first, entitled "Il segno di Giulio", is set up on the ground floor of St. George's Castle and examines Giulio's production as a designer, painter, architect and urban planner. The second, "Al modo di Giulio", will occupy the spaces of Corte Nuova and the Appartamento di Troia, the official residence of Federico II Gonzaga, frescoed by Giulio Romano himself, making it possible to compare the preparatory drawings of the frescoes and the final decoration. The third section, "Alla maniera di Giulio", located in the Appartamento della Rustica, will explore Giulio Romano's architect and the artist's epigones, with an exhibition of works by his pupils and disciples.

The other important exhibition planned at the same time at Palazzo Te is entitled “Giulio Romano: Arte e Desiderio” (Giulio Romano: Art and Desire).

The 40 works on display, including "I Due Amanti", from the Hermitage, and the "Ritratto di Cortigiana", from Puskin in Moscow, investigate the relationship between the images of erotic subjects produced in Italy in the first half of the 16th century and ancient figurative inventions, sculptures and bas-reliefs in particular. A third appointment is at the Basilica and the former Monastic Refectory of San Benedetto Po, which host the exhibition "Il Cinquecento a Polirone. From Correggio to Giulio Romano." The exhibition intends to present the renewal promoted by Giulio Romano inside the spaces of the sacred building that is part of a wider innovative ferment that, during the century, saw the intervention of Correggio, the sculptor Antonio Begarelli, Fermo Ghisoni and other creators who gave the complex a modern look.

The opening of the exhibition is entrusted to a portrait of Giulio Romano, flanked, in the same room, by a drawing by Federico Zuccari and some altarpieces that belong to the sixteenth-century furnishings of the basilica. Here, a few years before his death, Giulio Romano had signed a contract for the realization of the various altarpieces, most of which were made by Fermo Ghisoni.