Newsletter for the Rotary Club of Western Endeavour - Issue No.: 846 Issue Date: 17 Feb, 2019

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Giovanni Francesco Barbieri known as Guercino Saint Andrea Corsini(1630)

A Window on Italy - Corsini Collection

On Sunday last week, eleven club members and family attended the Art Gallery of WA's current exhibiition, A Window on Italy - the Corsini Collection. We were treated to an interesting and informative tour with our galley guide who gave us some great insights into the history of the collection and a number of the paintings. 

the collection is not usually on show to the public in Florence where it is generally housed in the Palazzo Corsini so I recommend you attend the exhibition before it leaves Perth.

Below is a review of the collection from the West Australian.


Drawn from one of Florence’s most important private art collections, the paintings in A Window on Italy — The Corsini Collection: Masterpieces from Florence normally reside in the Corsini Gallery of the Palazzo Corsini, a magnificent Baroque palace on Lungarno Corsini.

This is the first time these works, which are displayed alongside furniture, textiles and other objects pertaining to a wealthy and powerful family once allied to the Medici, have travelled outside Florence. The exhibition’s first stop was the Auckland Art Gallery; this is its second and last before everything is packed up and returned home.

Home is a key idea here, as is family.

On entering the gallery, you’re treated to impressive panoramic photographs of the interior and exterior of the Palazzo. Despite the cavernous rooms with their lavish furnishings, their stuccoes and frescoes, including Gabbiani’s magnificent Glorification of the Corsini Family on the Presentation Room’s ceiling, all in the ornate Roman Baroque style, the feeling is one of warmth and even intimacy.

Then you notice seemingly bewildered faces of long-dead family members staring out, from the frames that imprison them, at a table and service, a big medallion, a bust of Pope Clement XII, an embroidered pillow, an exquisite door curtain emblazoned with the Corsini family crest.

Perhaps you fancy their eyes widening even further as they see so many strangers enjoying the Renaissance and Baroque paintings normally adorning the walls of their family home.

Madonna with Child and Six Angels

Some of the group who attended

Paintings such as Guercino’s portrait of the family saint, Saint Andrea Corsini, whose forehead still bears a real bullet hole, like a stigmata, the result of the painting’s close encounter with a German soldier retreating from Florence towards the end of World War II.

Paintings such as the haunting architectural capriccios of Codazzi and the turbulent seascapes of il Montagna, or Tassi’s fete champetre The Fair at Grottaferrata and its dark counterpoint by a Florentine painter after Rosselli, The Execution of Savonarola and Two Companions at Piazza della Signoria.

Paintings such as Giovanni Santi’s slightly surreal depictions of gods and godessess from Greek mythology which find echoes in Caravaggio’s portrait of Maffeo Barberini and Tintoretto’s Saint Simon.

Paintings such as an oil sketch of the aforementioned ceiling fresco by Gabbiani, and Luca Giordano’s sketch for the dome of the Corsini Chapel in the Church of the Carmine, Florence. Notable is how both painters’ mastery of perspective as a logical method of organising space results in quite different if equally dynamic styles.

Finally, paintings such as those depicting Mary and the infant Jesus, such as Pontormo’s strange, Mannerist Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, Fra Bartolomeo’s Holy Family and Botticelli’s Madonna and Child with Six Angels.

It is this last work, a luminous circular painting in tempera and oil on board from around 1500, that is both the centrepiece and the compass of this beautiful, engrossing exhibition.

Yes, it is a masterpiece of line, colour and design, the graceful choreography of the six angels surrounding mother and child delicately embellishing the latter’s tender embrace.

But more importantly because it speaks so eloquently of family. And of home.

A Window on Italy — The Corsini Collection: Masterpieces from Florence is on until June 18. See


Author: Judy Dinnison

Published: 19 May, 2018


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