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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » August 29, 2013
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Triumphant Baroque
August 29, 2013   
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Work by Guercino, one of the greatest Italian Baroque painters, will be on show in a retrospective exhibition that opens in September at the National Museum in Warsaw.

Born Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Guercino (1591-1666) was a remarkable individual. Lauded by his contemporaries, Guercino remained faithful to his free spirit. He spent most of his life in Cento, a small town in the Italian region of Emilia between Bologna and Ferrara, where most of his paintings are kept to this day. Kings, cardinals and politicians would alter their routes especially to visit the master in his studio. Keen to meet his famed colleague, Spanish painter Diego Velázquez made a stop in Cento in 1629.

The upcoming exhibition in Warsaw comprises 33 paintings, including Guercino’s most famous pictures from the collections of the Barberini Gallery in Rome and churches and palaces in Cento. Warsaw audiences will get a rare opportunity to see one of the most intriguing paintings in the history of art, Et in Arcadia ego, from the Barberini collection, which Guercino painted when he was 27 in 1618. Very seldom exhibited outside Rome, the picture fascinates art lovers as they marvel at Guercino’s modern approach to the subject of his masterpiece.

Along with monumental paintings, work on show at the Warsaw exhibition will include 50 sketches, studies and drawings, forming the first such comprehensive exhibition of Guercino’s work outside Italy.

Abundant in lavish and refined colors, Guercino’s pictures are distinctive for their dynamic and dramatic appearance. The Warsaw exhibition documents the evolution of the artist’s individual style, providing audiences with a broader picture of the Baroque in its purest, Italian form. The displayed pictures will range some of Guercino’s earliest to austere and naturalistic images from his later years when he conformed with classicist trends. Many of the paintings astonished viewers during Guercino’s lifetime and had a powerful impact on Baroque art across Europe. Aside from Et in Arcadia ego, Warsaw audiences will see The Crucifixion with St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Francesca Romana, a monumental painting from the Potocki Chapel altar at the Wawel Cathedral in Cracow, and paintings from Polish collections housed in the National Museums in Warsaw, Poznań and Gdańsk and the Diocese Museum in Włocławek.

The National Museum in Warsaw has organized the exhibition together with the Italian embassy and the Italian Culture Institute in Warsaw. The exhibition will be held under the auspices of the presidents of Poland and Italy.

Sept. 21-Feb. 2, 2014
Guercino. The Triumph of Baroque. Masterpieces from Cento, Rome and Polish Collections
National Museum in Warsaw; 3 Jerozolimskie Ave.
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