Giovanni C. F. Villa and Peter Fink Palma Vecchio – Gazing at beauty

Wednesday 28 January - 6,30pm
The Italian Cultural Institute, 39 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8NX
Giovanni C. F. Villa and Peter Fink
Palma Vecchio – Gazing at beauty
To celebrate the major exhibition of works by Jacopo Negretti, known as Palma Vecchio, at Galleria
d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea of Bergamo (GAMeC), curator Giovanni C. F. Villa and Project
Designer Peter Fink talk about this great artist and of this unique exhibition – the first retrospective of
his works.
The artist Jacopo Negretti, known as Palma Vecchio (Serina, c.1480-Venice 1528), has been
celebrated with nine monographic exhibitions, the first organized by Fornoni (1886) and the last
by Philip Rylands (1988). Yet never before has a retrospective exhibition been dedicated to
Palma Vecchio, as it has always proven impossible- even for just one hundred days- to
coordinate moving his religious paintings, delicate works on wood, from the greatest museums
in Europe and the United States.
Thanks to the deep-rooted desire and perseverance of the Fondazione Credito Bergamasco and
the production company ComunicaMente Servizi per la Cultura srl, the exhibition that has been
awaited for over half a century can finally take place. Curated by Giovanni C.F. Villa and
sponsored by the city of Bergamo, from March 13 to June 21 2015 the exhibition will bring
together in Bergamo’s Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAMeC), nearly forty
masterpieces by Palma Vecchio from major public and private collections in Italy and abroad:
from the National Gallery in London to Gemäldegalerie in Berlin and Dresden, from the
Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. And more: paintings
from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles of England’s collections, from the Uffizi in Florence
to the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice.
This collection of works– aided by the layout of the exhibition space- will narrate completely in
an aesthetic visual journey every moment of the still mysterious quarter century-long career of
Palma Vecchio, the refined interpreter of both the high profile Venetian commissions and the
lavish works illustrating his beloved homeland.
The exhibition will give visitors the chance to admire the finest in altarpieces, including the
Polittico di Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara Altarpiece) that will leave its home in Santa Maria
Formosa in Venice for the first time ever – as well as themes that cemented Palma Vecchio’s
secular success: portraits of women and the sacred conversations in landscapes. The painter
from Serina began creating sublime portraits of extraordinary female beauty in 1515, and they
immediately became idealized and sought after by collectors, creating a true legend.
In Vienna's Woman in Blue and in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid's Portrait of a
Woman (La Bella), both in the exhibition, Palma creates soft, amply-proportioned women, their
silken garments opulent. His works will define the ideal of the female figure in the late
Renaissance: the precise details, finesse in draftsmanship, and breath-taking ability to make
flesh or fabric come to life, combine to give us images of astonishing splendour in their
chromatic, glossy, lifelike quality. Even in ethereal figures that seem almost devoid of weight
and volume, as if made of pure colour, the artist marvellously directs an exciting visual opera.
Then there are his poems, composed of glances, stories, nostalgia, discoveries and perspectives.
One of these is Dresden’s Incontro di Giacobbe e Rachele (Encounter of Jacob and Rachel), an oil
on canvas present in the exhibition, a poetic precursor of Bassano in its rustic simplicity of
composition which suggests the Bergamo valleys, meadows and mountains crowned with
ancient churches, in an authentic representation of the places where Palma was born and
It is also for these reasons that Palma is the artist chosen by the Fondazione del Credito
Bergamasco and the City of Bergamo to celebrate EXPO2015 through a cultural and economic
event significantly designed to reveal in a new way one of the most fascinating, and for some
aspects lesser known, Italian cities: Bergamo.
The goal is two-fold: first, to carry out the important safeguarding of heritage -through financing
of the complex yearlong restoration, thanks to the enormous support of the Fondazione Creberg
in the person of the Secretary General Angelo Piazzoli-of the eight panels of the Polittico di
Serina (Serina Polyptych) and of the Adorazione dei pastori (Adoration of the Shepherds) painting
in Zogno, masterpieces so deteriorated as to be otherwise destined to a tragic fate. Second, to
make the area the centre for all types of excursions and cultural tourism. Thus the exhibition has
received the patronage of Mibact and the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as, among others, the
Lombardy Region, the Diocese of Bergamo and the Province of Bergamo; and has as its
institutional partners the Foundation Comunità Bergamasca and Sacbo spa, and as its main
sponsor the Orio al Serio Airport.
Website: and
Peter Fink graduated in Engineering, Sculpture and Philosophy. Peter's capacity to make things
happen and strength of purpose, imaginative response to brief and resourceful problem solving are
best illustrated by the Northala Fields Park project. This critically acclaimed exemplar of people-led
sustainability started in 2000 with no available funding and a semi derelict 27 hectare open space in
West London.
In 2006 Peter became a founding partner of FoRM Associates, a landscape and urban design practice
focusing on place making. The company delivered many pioneering projects, such as Irwell River Park
masterplan, a complex strategy of revitalization of Manchester’s waterfront. The concept of the new
linear park overcomes the effects of previous industrialization, transforming the river corridor from a
major polluted severance into a premier public realm with the Irwell River at its heart.
In 2013 Peter founded Studio Fink to focus on developing projects that highlight the role of artistic
creativity in our cityscapes. By focusing on issues of social sustainability Peter, as an artist, is interested
in how culture can became a core quality in the design of our cities as well as a primary catalyst for
Giovanni Carlo Federico Villa, curator of the exhibition on Palma Vecchio, is a Professor of History of
Modern Art and of Museology and history of the Art Critic at the University of Bergamo. He is also
Director of the Centro d’Ateneo di Arti Visive at the same University.
He has curated exhibitions for the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome including Antonello da Messina
(2006), Giovanni Bellini (2008), Lorenzo Lotto (2011), Tiziano (2013). He has also curated the exhibition
Cima da Conegliano, poeta del paesaggio for Palazzo Sarcinelli in Conegliano (2010), which then
moved to the Palais du Luxembourg in Parigi, requested by the French Sènat; Maîtres vénitiens et
flamands. Bellini, Titien, Canaletto, Van Eyck, Metsys, Jordaens… for the Palais des Beaux-Arts of
Bruxelles (2011) and Scolpire gli Eroi. La scultura al servizio della memoria for the Palazzo della Ragione
of Padua, commissioned by the Unità Tecnica di Missione della Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri
within the programme of exhibitions dedicated to the celebration of 150 years of the Italian
Among his over a hundred publications, the monographies Indagando Mantegna (Mantova 2007),
Indagando Bellini (Milano 2009) and Giovanni Bellini (Cinisello Balsamo 2008), the volume Dalla
conservazione alla storia dell’arte. Riflettografia e analisi non invasive per lo studio dei dipinti (Pisa
2006), the updated monography on Bartolomeo Cincani detto Montagna (Treviso 2014) and Venezia
l’Ultimo Rinascimento (published by Einaudi in 2014)
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