Silent World

Italian Still Life

6 December 20029 March 2003

memento mori

Strawberries, cherries, grapes and melons are heaped up in abundance; bunches of flowers, posies and garlands celebrate the beauty of Mediterranean culture. Nevertheless, even in the most luxuriant splendour, a ‘memento mori’ lies concealed, reflecting its morbid charm.

Still Life

‘Still World – Italian Still Life’, with masterpieces by Arcimboldo, Caravaggio, Baschenis, Porpora, Recco, the anonymous masters of Hartford, Acquavella or the mysterious Pensionante dei Saraceni, showed a facet of Italian painting which for many years had been unjustly neglected.

In dialogue with the French or Dutch

Nearly forty years since the last big exhibition of Italian still life (in Naples in 1964), the exhibition looked at the various cultural centres in Italy, from Lombardy through Tuscany to Rome and Naples, and presented the subdivisions within this extremely rich genre. It afforded us a new view of the magnificence of Italian Baroque, at the same time demonstrating the great difference between the Italian still life on the one hand, and on the other, the French or Dutch paintings in this genre.Many of the 200 or so works from three centuries of Italian painting were publicized and shown for the first time in an exhibition; these were new discoveries made by the curator of the project, Prof. Mina Gregori of Florence.

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