From Massys to Pourbus: the flemish XVI century
Da Massys a Pourbus
il ‘500 fiammingo
Torino – 31/10/2018 – 20/12/2018
A limited selection of 16th century Flemish works, all accompanied by specific studies, representing a unique chronological and thematic corpus, with few precedents, both in Italy and abroad.
The exhibition, which will recall the 16th century Antwerp, a sort of northern European Florence both economically and artistically, starts from what is considered its “diamond point”, or the Virgin in prayer by Jan Massys (Antwerp, 1509 – 1575). The work, which enjoys the unanimous consent of the academic community and will be published in the forthcoming monography on Massys (edited by Maria Clelia Glassi), is a rare example of the levels touched by the sixteenth-century masters. Jan Massys was a prolific author, who also worked for a time in Genoa, where he left some of his first masterpieces. The table, which now appears on the market after more than a century of being in a private collection, shows all the trappings of the Flemish painter’s poetics: in the slight hint of a smile, in the lyrical vivacity of the eyes, animated by a changeable and enigmatic spirit, in the ‘tapered architecture of the hands and, above all, in the porcelain complexion that characterizes the whole figure, almost as if we were in the presence of a statue infused with spirit and polished in that formal perfection that distinguishes a Master from a simple craftsman.
The Ecce Homo of the Master of the Holy Blood also derives from the cultural context of the Massys workshop: it is a work of powerful symbolism, capable of imposing itself on the spectator with the force of an almost metaphysical vision, a true conquest of that Flemish art of origins, which like no other knew how to combine reality and symbol. Another exceptional find is the door showing the Ascension, by Adrian van Overbeke (Antwerp, news from 1508 to l529). The work, coming from an important Roman collection, is part of a monumental polyptic dedicated to the Passion of Christ, of which most of the panels are currently preserved in some of the most important museums in the world, such as the Bonnenfanten Museum in Maastricht. The discovery of one of the last missing dpanels is a fundamental discovery from the historical-artistic point of view and an important addition to the catalog of this Anversese master who distinguished himself for his characteristic and extravagant shapes, for his accentuated colourism and extreme spatial solutions and anti-classics: it is confirmed by the choice to show Christ while being swallowed up by an authentic space-time gap that opens up in the clouds and leaves room for the gold of the Infinite Metaphysical.