Following the success of the Ensor to Bosch exhibition in 2005, the Centre for Fine Arts
and the Vlaamse Kunstcollectie are joining forces again in the spring of 2009. This time with a third partner: the Galleria Sabauda in Turin, home to the splendid art collection of the House of Savoy.
Work is under way on the royal palace in Turin so that, from 2011, the 150th anniversary of Italian reunification, the city's state museums can be based there. Thanks to this extensive transformation, the Centre for Fine Arts has been given a unique opportunity to present a substantial part of the Galleria Sabauda's collection.
Da Van Dyck a Bellotto is organised chronologically and thematically; it spans the period from the 15th to the 18th century. The exhibition brings together 120 works of art by Flemish and Italian masters such as Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, Andrea Mantegna, Orazio Gentileschi, and Bernardo Bellotto. Among the highlights are four paintings by Rubens that have never previously been seen in Belgium, four precious Brussels tapestries, and illuminated manuscripts from the Royal Library.
In the lead-up to its move to the Turin royal palace in 2011, moreover, the Galleria Sabauda has had most of its collection restored, including the 100 works of art that are coming to Brussels.
Da Van Dyck a Bellotto shows the history of the development of the Savoy dynasty's magnificent collection. The accumulation of this prestigious collection was an element in the family's strategy for the winning of political power, influence, and status. The collection shows the taste and the dominant artistic trends of the period from the 15th to the 18th century, including mannerism, Caravaggism, classicism, and the Baroque. The artistic exchange between Flemish and Italian painters is also illustrated.
In 2011 Italy will celebrate the 150th anniversary of reunification, the Risorgimento. The Centre for Fine Arts is presenting a prelude to this anniversary in the form of a Turin/Italian spring. Alongside Da Van Dyck a Bellotto, the contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan will exhibit in the Horta Hall. Carlo Petrini, the guru of Slow Food, will teach you how to eat. And then there is the Teatrino Clandestino, Pippo Delbono, Caterina and Carlotta Sagna, Cesare Pavese, Alessandro Baricco, and more.
A short history of the House of Savoy
Savoy is a historic region in the Alps, roughly corresponding to the modern French départments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie. To the north it reaches Lake Geneva; to the west it touches the Rhône; in the south-east the Graian Alps form the border between Savoy and Piedmont.
The House of Savoy is a noble family that ruled over Savoy from the early 11th century. The founder of the dynasty was Humbert the Whitehanded (1003-1047/1048), the first Count of Savoy. Originally, the family ruled over the Savoy region, but it gradually extended its influence and territory, thanks to clever political machinations and strategic marriages. The family had the ambitious goal of achieving royal status; it succeeded in 1713 when Victor Amadeus II was raised to the status of king of Sicily and later of Sardinia.
In 1861 the House of Savoy united the peninsula's various centres of power into a single state, the Kingdom of Italy. Victor Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy, was crowned as the first king of a united Italy later that year.
The Savoy family continued to reign until 1946, after the end of the Second World War, making it one of the longest-reigning royal families in Europe (1861-1946). The Savoy dynasty ended with a referendum in which the Italian people opted for a republican form of state.
The art collection of the House of Savoy
In the 17th century many aristocrats, kings, scholars, doctors, and lawyers kept possessions, including rarities and valuable objects, in small rooms. These collections were visited by travellers and documented in travel guides. Collections often changed hands after a marriage or the fall of a dynasty; this dynamic helped to spread works of art and artistic trends around Europe .
Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy (1528-1580) was the first member of the family to emerge as a patron of the arts and letters in modern times. His collection of works of art, rare objects, and valuable books was the origin of the famous collection of the House of Savoy. Over the centuries the family steadily expanded the collection, adding paintings, sculpture, and other works of art. The collection clearly shows the interest the court took in the art of the North and in Flemish art in particular. Masterpieces of painting and sculpture, after all, give a collection extra value and prestige. The development of the collection, accordingly, fitted in with the family's ambitious strategy for winning political power, influence, and status.
The Galleria Sabauda was founded in 1832 by Charles Albert of Savoy, who inherited the collections of his ancestors. The goal was to offer the Italian people the opportunity to discover these magnificent works of art and to learn about the history of art. Today it is one of the most important collections of Flemish painting in Europe.
The artistic exchange between Flemish and Italian painters
From the 16th century on, more and more artistic exchanges took place between Italy and Flanders. The first and most important customers for Flemish painting were Italian merchants and aristocrats, who shipped Flemish works to Italy . Flemish artists travelled to Italy, where they stayed for quite some time and exchanged techniques with the Italian masters. Peter Paul Rubens, for example, returned to his Antwerp studio after spending eight years in Rome and became the first major representative of the Baroque in the Low Countries. Anthony Van Dyck also spent a long time in Italy, where he painted portraits of the aristocracy of the wealthy trading city of Genoa .