The other Gallery
by Giulina Venturini
In our imagination, museums’ deposits are dusty warehouses full of marvellous works, more or less guiltily removed from the public view. Some of them are temporarily exhibited in place of others on loan or in restoration, other still await the visit of scholars or connoisseurs who can study and better enhance them; other finally, though valuable and sometimes beautiful, they carry on themselves too many offenses of time so they can’t be exposed to the public.
The National Gallery of Umbria in Perugia completes the celebration of its first hundred years of life with an exhibition until January 6th, 2019 called: The other Gallery. Works of deposits, that brings to light the less known works. The exhibition offers the visitor an opportunity to discover unpublished works among the pictorial beauties of the thirteenth century up to the middle of the sixteenth century
The works were first subject to diagnostic investigations and conservation interventions, thanks to a team of restoration specialists of the Umbrian and Tuscan territory that used innovative systems of painting and cutting-edge conservation methods. New attributions, new dates and findings on provenance, technique and old restorations have made it possible to clarify the identity card of each product and to be able to better evaluate the qualities. Cesare Brandi said: «The restoration is the methodological moment of the recognition of the work in its physical consistency and in the double aesthetic-historical polarity, in view of its transmission to the future».
The amazing discovery
So bright colours have emerged by thick deposits of dirt and heavy layers of yellowed paint, as in the Crucifix and Santa Maria Maddalena, in the Madonna with the Child, San Girolamo and Sant’Antonio da Padova by Matteo di Giovanni and in God and Angels of Mariano of Ser Austerio. Unpublished polychromes are surfaced by strongly damaged boards due to cleaning carried out with aggressive substances; details of intense suggestion have also been discovered, such as the stigmata on the legs of the Mystic Lamb or the prayer of the Virgin engraved by the author of Saint Catherine.
The other Gallery is therefore configured as an extension of the museum itinerary, in which we find names already known as Giovanni Boccati, Bartolomeo Caporali and Perugino, and figures that, on the other hand, return to the exhibition circuit after a long time, or they make their first appearance as the Master of Dossali di Subiaco, Melozzi da Forli, Meo da Siena, Allegretto Nuzi, Rossellino di Jacopo Franchi, Eusebio from San Giorgio, Berto di Giovanni, Domenico Alfani and Dono Doni. In addition, some frescoes are also visible, detached from the Santa Giuliana monastery in the choir, in the refectory and in the chapter hall of the church itself. From these rooms comes the fresco with the rare representation of San Galgano. The exhibition offers the visitor a unique and special occasion to admire a refined selection of tables at the golden age of the Umbrian school.