The Previous Exhibit

From Guercino to Caravaggio. Sir Denis Mahon and the Italian Art in the XVII Century

Hermitage  Museum, St. Petersburg

May 21 – July 28, 2013

The Hermitage Museum, in cooperation with RomArtificio, aims at organizing an important exhibition, which retraces the fundamental stages of over one hundred years of life, care and passion for studies of Sir Denis Mahon and gathers the masterpieces that he collected and donated to the most prestigious International Institutions. Furthermore the exhibition exposes some of the attributions and discoveries made directly by Sir Denis Mahon, from Guercino to Caravaggio.

As a scientific support to this ambitious project, the Curator Mina Gregori will collaborate with Anna Coliva, Director of the Borghese Gallery, and Sergei Androsov, Director of the Department of the Western European Art at the Hermitage Museum.

The curators will also be supported by renowned colleagues such as, Antonio Paolucci, Director of the Vatican Museums, Tatiana Bushmina, Curator of Italian Painting in the 17th and 18th Centuries in the Department of the Western European Art at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Luigi Ficacci, Superintendent of the Artistic Heritage of Bologna, Daniela Porro, Superintendent of the Museum Center of the City of Rome, Cristina Acidini, Superintendent of the Museum Center of Florence, Antonio Natali, Director of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Alessandro Cecchi, director of the Palatine Gallery of the Pitti Palace in Florence, Fausto Gozzi, director of the Art Gallery of Cento, Ivana Iotta, Director of the Museum of Cremona, Daniele Benati, Director of the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Bologna.

The exhibition is, first of all, a tribute to a gentleman of Art History, who was able to reconsider, with unique trait and British solidity, the early XVII Century. Starting, in concentric circles, from the study of his favourite Guercino, Mahon was able to propose, in a new and more convincing light, the Bolognese Painting at the turn of the Seventeenth Century, and conducted pioneering discoveries about Caravaggio and Nicolas Poussin.

Through the exhibition the role played by this researcher in the revival of the Bolognese School will, first and foremost, emerge, starting from Guercino, who was totally underestimated, until 1938, when he dedicated to him his first article. Mahon promoted a better knowledge throughout his career, working actively at the Biennale of Ancient Art of Bologna since 1956 and devoting in particular to Guercino two major exhibitions in Bologna (1968; 1990), in addition to the one in Milan (2004).

At the same time, his interest in the paintings of Caravaggio grew and the exhibition – his core masterpieces such as Ragazzo con canestra di frutta and San Girolamo Scrivente of the Borghese Gallery, Il Cavadenti of the Palatine Gallery of Pitti Palace, San Giovannino of Corsini Palace, Il suonatore di liuto of the Hermitage Museum – will also present – with the aim of clarifying the critical position of Mahon close to the one of Roberto Longhi, the Italian ‘specialist’ of the artist.

Exhibition in St. Petersburg had tremendous success, having reached about 900 thousand visitors who appreciated the organization of the exhibition. In accordance with the sociological report of the Hermitage museum, 84% of female respondents gave the highest rating to the event. It is also important to mention the presence of the young audience aged under 30 years, which accounted for nearly half of all visitors.