The ‘ROMA AETERNA. Masterpieces of the Vatican Pinacotheca. Bellini, Raphael, Caravaggio’ Exhibition Unveiled at the Tretyakov Gallery

26 November 2016

From 25 November 2016 to 19 February 2017, the ‘ROMA AETERNA. Masterpieces of the Vatican Pinacotheca. Bellini, Raphael, Caravaggio’ exhibition is on display at the State Tretyakov Gallery. This exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Art, Science and Sport Charity Foundation.

‘ROMA AETERNA...’ is an unprecedented international project in which the Vatican Museums display the best pieces from their collection — masterpieces from the 12th to 18th centuries — for the first time in Russia.

The ‘ROMA AETERNA...’ exhibition presents the Russian audience an opportunity to see 42 paintings that comprise a tenth of the Vatican Pinacotheca and were selected from the main exhibition set.

“The Vatican Museums have never before taken such a large number of outstanding works out of their permanent exhibition at the same time, thus the exhibition is a unique event not only for Russia and Europe but also for the whole world,” says Zelfira Tregulova, General Director of the State Tretyakov Gallery.

“These masterpieces have a spiritual message; they are all connected with religious subjects. I hope that this exhibition will confirm the friendship and spiritual connection between Rome and Russia which is being expressed by art,” said Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello at the opening of the exhibition.

In the first hall, the exhibition begins with The Blessing Christ, a very rare 12th-century sample of the Roman school. It is followed by Margaritone d’Arezzo’s St. Francis of Assisi, one of the earliest depictions of the saint. The exhibited masterpieces also include works by Gothic masters, with Pietro Lorenzetti’s Jesus before Pilate among them. The flourishing of the Renaissance is represented by The Miracles of Saint Vincenzo Ferrer by Ercole de Roberti, and Lamentation by Giovanni Bellini. The exhibition provides an opportunity to see frescoes depicting angels by Melozzo da Forlì, which the Pinacotheca rarely provides to other museums.

The High Renaissance is represented by the masterpieces of Perugino, Raphael, Correggio, and Paolo Veronese. From the Baroque era, there is The Entombment of Christ by Caravaggio, Nicolas Poussin’s altarpiece The Martyrdom of St. Erasmus, as well as works by caravaggionists and Bolognese school artists (Ludovico Carracci, Guido Reni, and Guercino). The exhibition ends with a series of paintings by the Bolognese artist Donato Chretien (18th century) devoted to astronomical observations.

The ‘ROMA AETERNA...’ exhibition is being held in the engineering building of the Tretyakov Gallery’s historical premises on Lavrushinsky Lane. The first exhibition hall is an octagon inspired by the Pinacotheca’s main space, and the second hall mirrors the shape of the square outside of St. Peter’s Cathedral.

According to Zelfira Tregulova, “these are modest-sized halls with masterpieces that are very important and valuable for all of humanity and that require a very careful and thoughtful reading and scrutinising.”

In 2017, the Vatican will hold a reciprocal exhibition comprised primarily of the Tretyakov Gallery’s Gospel works made by Russian artists.

The cooperation of the Art, Science and Sport Charity Foundation and the State Tretyakov Gallery started 10 years ago. Among the projects supported by the Foundation, are the Gallery’s 150th-anniversary events (2006), the ‘Whistler and Russia’ exhibition (2006-2007), and the ‘Dmitry Zhilinsky’s Retrospective’ exhibition (2007).

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