17th century - Italy
The best of the museum's Italian collection is undisputedly the 17th century. All of the major artistic movements are represented, from Caravagism to late Baroque via Bolognese classicism and Cortonism (from Pietro da Cortona).
Although the Emilian School may be dominant, the Roman, Neapolitan, Florentine, Lombard, Genoese and Venetian centres are far from absent. The collection reflects the traditional French preference for the Bolognese School. The museum has the great privilege of owning two paintings by Guercino painted in two different periods. In The Martyrdom of St. John and St. Paul from 1632, painted for the Cathedral of Reggio Emilia, the painter's fascination for Caravaggio is plain to see in his direct approach and in his taste for the colours of the Venetian painters of the 16th century.
The Glory of the Saints from 1647, painted for a church in Modena, shows a matured classicism.
Guido Reni is the quintessential example of Bolognese classicism. His Apollo and Marsyas from 1619 is a mythological painting of great purity, opposing the cold, rational beauty of the god with the earthly simplicity of the satyr in an extremely violent drama.
As well as the great church paintings, such as The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine by Cairo, painted for Milan, the museum owns beautiful paintings of private devotion such as Ricchi's St. Cecile, sketches and magnificent portraits such as the Solimena or the Strozzi.
As opportunities have presented themselves, over the last ten years the museum has been able to purchase works by the Genoese painters Assereto and Gaulli and by the Roman Tassi.