The Municipality of Senigallia opens the 2018 exhibition season with an important discovery in the field of Renaissance art. From 15 March to 2 September 2018 Palazzetto Baviera will exhibit a Correggio rediscovered: Saint Agatha’s beautiful face.

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The Municipality of Senigallia opens the 2018 exhibition season with an important discovery in the field of Renaissance art. From 15 March to 2 September 2018 Palazzetto Baviera will exhibit a Correggio rediscovered: Saint Agatha’s beautiful face.

Thanks to the Association “Amici del Correggio”, who found the painting in the collection of a noble family in Fano, and to professor Claudio Paolinelli, who attracted the attention of the Municipality of Senigallia, the local administration, in collaboration with Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Jesi, immediately decided to show such an exceptional discovery of international importance. The exhibition is cured by Giuseppe Adani.

Known as “the painter of the Graces”, Antonio Allegri called “il Correggio” (1489-1534), a gifted disciple of Leonardo school, brought the liveliness of painting, the motion of the soul and the freedom of the body to altar pieces and immense celestial domes, as well as to love affairs rich in erotic intensity, and last but not least, to the deeply expressive faces of his feminine subjects. He gained the appreciation of Vasari, who affirmed that “tengasi pur per certo che niuno meglio di lui toccò i colori”, adding that “certissimamente Antonio meritò ogni grado et ogni onore da vivo, et ogni gloria dopo la morte”.

The Saint Agatha of Senigallia - the martyr saint of Catania - is portrayed by Correggio while contemplating the symbols of her martyrdom. The light-weighted cloak wrapped around her neck, the beautiful face, and the soft head of hair date the painting to the mid-twenties of the 16th century. Although the commissioner and the first destination of the Saint are still unknown, the work belongs to the painter’s full maturity, and can be legitimately considered as a first trial for future masterpieces, like the Adoration at the Uffizi Gallery, Saint Catherine’s mystic wedding at the Louvre, the reading Saint Catherine at Hampton Court, as well as feminine portraits with similar features.

The painting is strictly related with Senigallia and for this reason it will be exhibited in a symbol of the city’s history: the Renaissance Palazzetto Baviera that has been recently reopened after long restoration works.

This small – only in dimensional terms - masterpiece by Correggio arrived in Senigallia at the end of the 19th century, as a gift from an English gentleman to the famous doctor Angelo Zotti, who had saved his life. The English traveller had probably purchased Saint Agatha in the 18th century as an authentic work by Correggio. Investigations are in progress to identify its location in one of the private English collections between the 18th and the 19th century.

In his “Escursione Artistica per Sinigaglia” published in 1886, Alfredo Margutti attributes the painting to Correggio, recommending a visit to Dr. Zotti’s widow in Senigallia. However, the painting did not stay with the Zotti family and in the 20th century it arrived in the hands of two noble sisters who lived in Fano due to family inheritance issues.

There, it was seen by Dario Fo in 2004, who interpreted the Saint’s face as a portrait of Jeronima, Correggio’s gorgeous wife. It’s thanks to the writer, actor and winner of the Nobel Prize that the picture was restored and published.

The images and captions of the exhibition narrate the story of Correggio: through stylistic and documentary comparisons, visitors are guided to the painting where Saint Agatha is the absolute protagonist. The expression of the model portrayed by the artist was used in famous works - both sacred and profane - of the “Painter of the Graces”. The exhibition is hosted in the main floor of Palazzetto Baviera, enriched by the astonishing stucco works made by Urbino-born artist Federico Brandani in the second half of the 16th century.
The catalogue of “Il Correggio ritrovato: la Sant'Agata di Senigallia”, edited by Silvana Editoriale includes writings by Giuseppe Adani, Renza Bolognesi, Benedetta Montevecchi and Donato Mori.

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