When the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
was founded in the mid-1960s, among the earliest and most important works acquired were paintings and works on paper by Italian artists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These have remained enduring cornerstones of the collection. In celebration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Italian Republic, we present Rome, Naples, Venice: Italian Masterworks from the BAM/PFA Collection. The exhibition brings together striking Mannerist and Baroque works by Michelangelo da Caravaggio, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Giambattista Tiepolo, Carlo Maratta, Giovanni Caracciolo, and Guiseppe Cesari (called Il Cavaliere dArpino), among others, reflecting a vibrant range of artistic innovation from three of Italys great cities.
The Roman Mannerist artist DArpino, for example, was distinguished as a brilliant colorist, as is evident in his striking Judith with Head of Holofernes (16031606). For a short period in the early 1590s, DArpino employed the young Caravaggio, newly arrived in Rome, to paint flowers and fruit. Caracciolo, a Neapolitan follower of Caravaggio, helped to popularize the dramatic and naturalistic Caravaggesque style, as in The Young Saint John in the Wilderness (16101620). Nearly a century later in Venice, Tiepolo became renowned for his grand fresco paintings. In his large-scale commissioned works as well as his intimate drawings and studies, Tiepolo excelled at a luminosity and fluidity of color associated with the Venetian region. Flying Female Figure (c. 1744) is one of numerous drawings he carried out in preparation for his religious paintings. This simple, graceful ink-and-wash drawing does not definitively relate to a particular figure, but typifies Tiepolos exquisitely concise draftsmanship and dramatic evocation of the human form in space.
Rome, Naples, Venice is curated by BAM/PFA Chief Curatorial Director of Collections and Programs Lucinda Barnes.