VIA DEL CORSO, Doria Pamphili Caravaggio And Velasquez

Audio File length: 2.32
English / USA Language: English / USA

Now I'd like to tell you about two of the most important paintings in the extraordinary collection of the Doria Pamphilj Gallery.

The first is entitled Rest on the Flight into Egypt and was painted around 1595; this is a masterpiece of Caravaggio's early works and perhaps his most poetic painting. He shows the Holy Family fleeing from the persecution of Herod, but this dramatic moment is almost magically suspended by the Lombard painter, with the family immersed in the light of sunset: it seems like time has stopped and nature itself is holding its breath to hear the notes of the angel/violinist. You can almost hear the sweet lullaby being played for the beautiful, tender baby Jesus, who's tightly embraced by the tired but affectionate Madonna.

The virtuoso soloist of the heavenly orchestra is young and slender, wrapped in a white tunic that seems to slip off his hips. And do you see the violent contrast between the angel and the rustic Saint Joseph holding the score, in addition to the donkey gazing through the brush? You'll never get sick of admiring this scene and discovering new details, each of which has been painted with infinite care, while never losing touch with the group of central figures.

The second painting that you can't miss is the Portrait of Innocent X by the Spanish master Diego Velázquez. With the pope's election in 1644, the power of the Pamphilj family had reached its peak. As a great patron of Baroque artists, Giovanni Battista Pamphilj took advantage of Velázquez's second trip to Rome to immortalize his image; Velázquez was the famous Spanish court painter of King Philip IV.

Very few times in history has there been a portrait where color has played an equally important role: it is dense, rich, with pasty whites and reds resembling Titian's brushstrokes and energy. And look at the power in the Pope's eyes! It transmits all of his character, with suspicion and authority blended together. The great 20th-century English painter Francis Bacon was deeply impressed, and almost obsessed, with this painting, so much so that he devoted himself to several disturbing and monstrous "variations".


FUN FACT: Innocent X had a sister-in-law, Olimpia, whom the people had nicknamed "Pimpaccia". She had helped get him elected and according to gossip, she was his lover. She was famous for her avarice: during parties, she would throw candlesticks from the windows to leave them to the poor. Then she would dress her servants in rags and send them out to retrieve the used candles!

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