Italy: The charm of the frescoes

Source: FSSPX News

Under the title “L’incanto dell’affresco” (the charm of the fresco), the Museum of Art in Ravenna is displaying 110 frescos:  “detached masterpieces from Pompeii to Giotto, from Correggio to Tiepolo”.  The exhibition, which will run until June 15, 2014, was organized by Claudio Spadoni, artistic director of the Museum, and Lucia Ciancabilla.  It is divided into six sections, arranged in chronological order of their detachment, thus tracing the history and the popularity of the practice of detaching wall paintings.  This display of paintings that have been wrested from walls and partitions of public, religious or private monuments, reviews the three chief methods of cutting out frescoes, their restoration, and also the conservation of the ancient heritage of Italian painting, with extremely valuable loans from places in Italy and abroad.

The first stages of detachment go back to Vitruvius and Pliny, where the removal of frescoes is done together with part of the supporting wall, as was the case with the Face of Christ by Fra Angelico or Melozzo de Forli’a music-making Angels.  Until the late 19th century, a large number of masterpieces of Italian painting were snatched from the vaulted ceilings of churches and chapels, from the walls of public and private buildings that had housed them for centuries, in order to transport them to safer places....  Behind the evident needs for conservation there were often hidden motives of the collectors.

On this occasion, the Museum of Art in Ravenna, housed in a 16th-century building, is displaying several of the most beautiful paintings of Pompeii and Herculanum, as well as others by Giotto, Buffamalco, Altichiero, Vitale da Bologna, Pisanello, Signorelli, Pontormo, and Tiepolo, to mention only a few.

On the Adriatic coast, in Emilia-Romagna, the city of Ravenna had as its first bishop Saint Apollinaris, who had come from Antioch to Rome with Saint Peter and died a martyr on July 23, 87 A.D.;  he was buried in Classe, the port of Ravenna.  The capital of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, and then of Byzantine Italy until the 8th century, Ravenna has a set of early Christian mosaics and monuments unlike any other in the world.  Eight buildings—the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Neonian Baptistry, the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Baptistry of the Arians, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the Church of San Vitale, and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe—were built in the 5th and 6th centuries and testify to a great artistic mastery that marvelously combines the Greco-Roman tradition, Christian iconography and the styles of East and West.

Museum of Art of Ravenna (MAR) – Via di Roma, 13 – 48100 Ravenna.

Until June 15, 2014;  open from 9:00 to 18:00 Tuesday through Friday, until 19:00 on Saturday and Sunday;  closed Monday;  admission:  9 Euros;  teachers, students, pupils:  4 Euros

(Sources:  MAR/Unesco/Osservatore Romano – DICI no. 296 dated June 06, 2014)

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