6 October 2010 – 16 January 2011
curated by Fernando Mazzocca and Carlo Sisi
To tie in with the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Unity of Italy, the Scuderie del Quirinale is to host a major exhibition designed to show how Italian painters depicted the events that led our country to the achievement of independence and national unity between 1859 and 1861.
The exhibition, comprising work by the leading artists of the day (including Francesco Hayez, Giuseppe Molteni, Domenico and Gerolamo Induno, Eleuterio Pagliano, Federico Faruffini, Giovanni Fattori, Silvestro Lega, Odoardo Borrani, Michele Cammarano and Giuseppe Sciuti), will endeavor to show how their interpretation of events tended to afford priority to the heartfelt grassroots support that the movement enjoyed while shunning a more obvious, celebratory rhetoric. For the very first time, the monumental pictures of Giovanni Fattori and Gerolamo Induno will be set alongside one another to highlight an identity of purpose that was achieved through the use of differing artistic vocabularies. Their aim was to depict the crucial battles in the conquest of our country's unity while shifting the viewer's attention from the military aspect to their ideal and human content.
One of the works on display will be the celebrated Battle of the Cernaia by Gerolamo Induno, who fought both in the Crimean War and in the famous battle which he then immortalized on canvas in a painting that was to become a model for subsequent works. Giovanni Fattori, who was one of the best known artists of the era, failed to take part in the Second War of Independence himself yet he proved capable of portraying the Risorgimento's epic nature better than any other painter, reaching heights worthy of the finest passages in Tolstoy's War and Peace. The paintings of Eleuterio Pagliano, Federico Faruffini and Michele Cammarano, on the other hand, evince the kind of shocking, revolutionary realism that was to inspire the film work of such movie directors as Blasetti and Visconti, who devoted some of their best work to the Risorgimento period.
The exhibition tells the story of one of the most important periods in our national history, the revolutionary events of 1848 -- a necessary premise for understanding what was to take place between 1859 and 1861, the legendary "Five Days of Milan" and "Rome Wounded to the Heart". It highlights both the grassroots participation and the epic undertaking as seen through the eyes of Hayez, Molteni and Induno, while focusing at the same time on the popular adventure of the Mille, the legend of the Red Shirts and the figure of Garibaldi as interpreted by Fattori, Gerolamo Induno, Filippo Liardo and Umberto Coromaldi.
The exhibition ends with the dashed hopes of Villafranca and of Aspromonte, two dramatic moments captured in masterpieces by Domenico and Gerolamo Induno and personified by Fattori's tragic painting Lo Staffato [The Fallen Rider], the iconic symbol of the thoughts and concerns that beset those years. Indeed many now hold the picture up as the most authentic and anti-rhetorical monument to those who fell in the wars of the Risorgimento.