Giotto. Riappare un affresco. Giotto, a fresco reappears

Due teste di Apostoli (Pietro e Paolo), collezione privata
Due teste di Apostoli (Pietro e Paolo), collezione privata

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Mancava solo questa “gemma” mai vista dal vero ad impreziosire la mostra Giotto, l’Italia (14 capolavori  riuniti a Palazzo Reale di Milano, dal 2/09 al 10/01/2016). L’aver ottenuto questo difficile prestito (in mani private) riempie d’orgoglio la curatrice Serena Romano (che con Pietro Petraroia ha ideato quest’esposizione,  prodotta da Palazzo Reale e da Electa). L’opera non era ignota agli studiosi. Nel 1971 il professor Valentino Martinelli pubblicò per primo un testo e una foto in bianco e nero in un libro di studi.

Questo frammento d’affresco in cui sono raffigurati due Santi (Pietro e Paolo, per convenzione) è stato conservato nei secoli quasi come una reliquia. Quando la prima basilica di San Pietro fu rasa al suolo nel 1610, qualcuno provvidenzialmente salvò alcuni pezzi del ciclo giottesco. Taluni finirono nelle Grotte Vaticane, sotto la chiesa, mentre altri diventarono di proprietà privata, proprio come in questo caso. Serena Romano è riuscita nell’ardua impresa di convincere i proprietari a concedere il frammento per questi pochi mesi, mostrandolo per la prima volta al pubblico.

L’opera è un rettangolo di 40 centimetri, e la sua attribuzione a Giotto è molto chiara. Dietro a questo frammento c’è una scritta che racconta come avvenne questo salvataggio: il segretario di papa Paolo V lo ha donato a un signore fiorentino di nome Matteo Caccini, e il cui stemma è apposto sul retro del frammento, proprio accanto a questa descrizione. Accertandone così la provenienza storica. Il Caccini lo espose alla devozione pubblica nel 1625. Sempre dalla scritta sappiamo che questo frammento proviene dalle pareti interne della prima Basilica di San Pietro. «Il mio ragionamento nello stilare (insieme ad Andrea De Marchi) la scheda del catalogo, ipotizza che questo frammento provenga dall’abside», dice la Romano. «L’interesse storico è altissimo, tanto più che in questa mostra l’opera è messa in relazione anche con il Polittico Stefaneschi (eccezionale prestito dei Musei Vaticani che lo hanno spostato per la prima volta) anch’esso proveniente dalla basilica vaticana antica. Purtroppo le lunghe trattative per ottenere questo prestito non hanno consentito il restauro dell’opera, che si farà però in seguito all’Opificio delle Pietre Dure di Firenze».

Ma c’è un altro “frammento” che la curatrice Serena Romano sta cercando “disperatamente” ed è la cimasa (raffigurante il Redentore) della Croce lignea di Rimini. La foto fu pubblicata all’ inizio del XX secolo e poi una seconda volta nel 1957, da Federico Zeri, il quale indicava come l’ opera fosse custodita in una collezione privata inglese. Purtroppo se ne sono perse le tracce. Riaffiorerà mai?

(per maggiori informazioni vai al sito  www.mostragiottoitalia.it)

 

A  “gem”, never seen before in flesh and blood, will enrich the exhibition Giotto, l’Italia (14 masterpieces at Palazzo Reale, Milan, from 2/09 to 10/01/2016) . Getting this unseen artwork was very very difficult.  Curator Serena Romano (who designed this Giotto exhibition together with Pietro Petraroia, produced by Palazzo Reale and Electa) is very proud having obtained this loan for the milanese show. The work was known in a very small scholars’s circle. The first one was Professor Valentino Martinelli who, in 1971, published a photo in black and white in a book of studies. This fragment of a fresco which depicts the two saints (Peter and Paul, by convention) has been preserved over the centuries almost like a relic. When the first  St Peter’s church was flattened in 1610, someone providentially saved few pieces of Giotto’s cycle. Some ended up in the Vatican Grottoes , while others became private property, just as in this case. Serena Romano succeeded in the arduous task of convincing the owners to grant it for these few months, showing it for the first time to the public.

The work is a rectangle of 40 cm, and its attribution to Giotto is very precise. On this fragment’s verso there is an inscription that tells how this piece was saved: the secretary to Pope Paul V gave it to a Florentine gentleman named Matteo Caccini, whose coat of arms is on the reverse of the fragment, right next to this description. Thus proving the historical provenance. Caccini exposed him to public devotion in 1625. This description tell us that this fragment comes from the inner walls of the first St. Peter’s Basilica. «In my catalogue’s essay, written together with Andrea De Marchi, I do suggests that this fragment probably comes from the apse», says Romano. «The historical interest is very high, especially since in this exhibition the work is related with the Polittico Stefaneschi (an outstanding loan of the Vatican Museums that have moved it for the first time) which also originated from the same ancient Vatican Basilica. Unfortunately, long negotiations for getting this loan did not allow the restoration of the work, however planned after this show at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence».

But there is another lost “fragment” curator Serena Romano seeks “desperately” to find, this is the cyma (portraying the Redeemer) of the wooden cross of Rimini. The photo was published a first time at the beginning of the twentieth century and then a second time in 1957 by Federico Zeri, who asserted that the work was kept in a private English collection. Unfortunately no traces of the cyma until now. Will it ever resurface?

(For more detailed information please visit www.mostragiottoitalia.it)

 

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