More than a hundred works of art, including paintings, marble, stuccos, gold, ivory and coral artefacts, drawings, prints, and ancient books, will be on display together for the first time to illustrate one of the most fascinating and significant periods in the figurative arts in Palermo, i.e., the extraordinary combination of the arts and the interaction between skilled craftsmen in the capital of Sicily between the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
One of the most important artist was Giacomo Serpotta who contributed to renovating the art of stuccowork by making it reach the same importance as marble. He also managed to give churches and oratories a refined guise thanks also to the cultural awareness and resources of some important religious orders and wealthy brotherhoods and societies.
However, it was the architect Giacomo Amato who was the mind behind that fruitful artistic period in Palermo between late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It resulted in an exquisite production of artefacts of the finest quality which were often commissioned by the viceroy, as well as by local aristocrats or clergy. The capital city of the Kingdom of Sicily therefore opened itself even more towards Europe.
The first floor of the Bianchi Oratory focuses exclusively on Serpotta and visitors can admire from close up the stucco works which were taken off the walls of the Stimmate Church before it was destroyed late eighteenth century to make space for the Massimo Theatre. The drawings and sketches on display allow visitors to get to the heart of that ‘poor’ technique which the expert stucco artist from Palermo had managed to raise to the highest level of art.
On the first floor, visitors will find thematic sections closely linked among them and artworks have been arranged to display their links. Many paintings from religious buildings are compared to great architectural productions which are illustrated through the wonderful preparatory sketches by Giacomo Amato. They highlight the true innovation he introduced, i.e., the transition from the Baroque culture of the 1660/70s toward classicism directly inspired by the Roman version of that style which he had learned during his stay in the Eternal City until 1684.
The extraordinary works of art on display in the rich section of decorative arts were made for private households or to decorate churches. They highlight the crucial role that the production of church vestments played in boosting the economy of Palermo, the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily. These objects also tell us about the illustrious ecclesiastic and aristocratic figures who commissioned them, about the skills and extraordinary mastery that local craftsmen achieved in manufacturing silver objects, furniture, embroideries, and other furnishings.
The exhibition is hosted in the prestigious Bianchi oratory, which is managed by the Regional Gallery and is located behind Palazzo Abatellis.
The architectural complex was built over the centuries in one of the most significant sites for the history of Palermo. The oldest core consists of the wood remains of the Gate of Victory, which took this name to celebrate the victory of Robert the Guiscard over the Arabs who had settled in the fortified citadel of the Kalsa quarter.
The current design of the Oratory is the result of a series of construction works during the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries on the ancient Church of St. Mary of the Victory. From the mid-sixteenth century, the construction of the oratory of the Brotherhood of the Most Holy Crucifix was started on top of that church. The brotherhood was also called of the Bianchi for the white robes they wore during ceremonies. The most authoritative figures of the city were members and their task was to accompany and comfort people who had been sentenced to death before their execution.
Devastated by a fire at the end of the sixteenth century, the Oratory was rebuilt, and during the following century it was enriched with paintings, furnishings, and sculptures. In 1987, the Department for Cultural Heritage of the Sicily Region acquired the complex and assigned its management to Palazzo Abatellis.
The exhibition will be a special opportunity to discover the prestigious architectural complex of the Bianchi Oratory, which provides the perfect setting for the different artworks and arts on display. Through the stuccoworks coming from the Stimmate Church and the fine drawings and prints it will be possible to have a deeper understanding of the flourishing historical and cultural season that Palermo experienced in late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries when leading figures and protagonists in different artistic fields shaped the city. And Giacomo Serpotta’s great mastery towered above them all.
Visits are scheduled as follows
Thursday and Friday at 5:00 and 6:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 and 12:00 am
Duration: 60 minutes
€5.00 per person + reduced ticket for the exhibition. Booking required. Visits can however be booked for groups also in other days and times by calling the number: +39 0918887767;
€80.00 for groups (max 25 people) + reduced ticket for the exhibition;
€80.00 for school groups (max 25 people);
€150,00 per group (max 25 people) for visits in a foreign language + reduced ticket for the exhibition.
SERPOTTA AND HIS TIMES
From June 23rd to October 1st 2017
Oratorio dei Bianchi - Piazzetta della Vittoria allo Spasimo – 90133 Palermo
Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 am - 1:30 pm / 4:30 – 8:00 pm
Ticket office closes one hour before
Closed on Monday
Adult € 8.00
Discount ticket €6.00 for groups of minimum 12 people, holders of special discount cards (valid in Italy) and tickets for Palazzo Abatellis Museum;
Discount ticket €4.00 for school groups and young people up to 26 years;
Free admission for children under 6 years, people with disability and one escort, two escorts for each school group.
Info and booking
Individual visitors, groups, and schools by telephone at +39 0918887767
Service available Monday to Friday: from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, and from 2:00 to 5:00 pm
Saturday: from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Fondazione Terzo Pilastro
Italia e Mediterraneo
Tel. +39 06 97625591 339 2261678
Mobile +39 335 413512