In 1855, painter Domenico Pellizzi was assigned the task of forming a municipal gallery of paintings that at the time were located at City Hall, so that they could be added to the scientific collection of Lazzaro Spallanzani, which was on display in the halls of Palazzo dei Musei. However, it was only in 1876, the year of the Exhibit of Industrial Arts at Palazzo San Giorgio, that Spallanzani came up with the idea of creating a display location which included the placement of the gallery in an expansion planned for the Museum of National History, which was founded by Gaetano Chierici in 1862.
Read moreIn 1883, Naborre Campanini and painter Gaetano Chierici moved the municipal collection to the Workers’ Art School, where it remained until 1893, when the decision was made to include it in the Museo Civico (Municipal Museum). Between 1901 and 1904, Naborre Campanini placed the Gallery in the old sacristy, and the paintings were moved to the second floor in 1929. In 1977, Giancarlo Ambrosetti created a new arrangement that highlighted works produced in the city or associated with historic local events. In 1980, a campaign of acquisitions began that led to the enhancement of the collection with important artistic contributions from the School of Fine Arts, Unicredit, and the Hospital, including works from the XIV Century to the early XXI Century.
Hall I. The frescos in the first hall attest to artistic production in Reggio Emilia between the XIV and XV Centuries, while the influence of great Renaissance masters can be found in the work of Nicolò Patarazzi and in a cornice fragment by Nicolò dell’Abate. An important example of a commission from the city is the fresco of the Pietà by Bernardino Campi, from the façade of Palazzo del Monte.
Hall II. The 1600s in Reggio are again presented within the Gallery, thanks to the works of artists who associated their names with Ghiara Basilica and the Cathedral – from Lorenzo Franchi to Alessandro Tiarini of Bologna, from Luca Ferrari to Palma il Giovane and Paolo Emilio Besenzi.
Hall III. The presentation of artistic production in Reggio continues with works from the second half of the XVII Century and from the XVIII Century, from Felice Boselli to Gaetano Gandolfi and Fra Stefano of Carpi, an inventor of bold theatrical perspectives and highly personal religious scenes.
Hall IV. Several major works by Alfonso Chierici and Domenico Pellizzi – examples of municipal commissions – record the results of academic painting from the 1830s to 1850s, which emphasized the use of models from the great pictorial tradition of the past, and was characterized by an increasing closeness to reality.
Hall V. This hall contains a collection of works from the Chierici Institute that were placed in the Musei Civici in 2005. The assortment is a rich selection of materials that include paintings, sculptures, etchings, drawings of nudes, scene paintings and works in plaster that underscore the subdivision into schools which characterized academic training in the 1800s.
Hall VI. Landscape painting in Reggio found particularly fertile ground in the form of scenographic production. Besides the work of Giovanni Fontanesi, a teacher of landscape painting at the Reggio School of Fine Arts in 1845, this hall hosts works by Alfonso Beccaluva, who was trained in the Florentine school, and Alessandro Prampolini, who returned to Reggio after studying in Rome.
Hall VII. Painting in Reggio in the 1800s reached its acme with the production of Antonio Fontanesi. After spending time in Switzerland and France, he was to perfect his personal vision of the romantic landscape. He placed particular emphasis on interiorized representation as an expression of the moods of Man. The collected works received from the Caffè degli Svizzeri is important, as they are a perfect example of Fontanesi’s early artistic production in Reggio Emilia.
Halls VIII-IX. Art in Reggio in the IX Century is here represented by Gaetano Chierici and his scenes of rustic interiors, as well as works by original, eclectic artist Carlo Zatti. Placed next to them are works by Cirillo Manicardi and Lazzaro Pasini, the finest students of Gaetano Chierici at the School of Fine Arts. They presented the works Così va il mondo and In soffitta at the 1884 National Exhibit in Turin. And finally, we have the works of Giovanni Costetti and Augusto Mussini – restless, complex figures who straddled the XIX and XX Centuries.
Hall X. The historic artistic adventure of Antonio Ligabue, one of the most authentic and curious artistic personalities of the last century, is narrated in this hall devoted to the artist, with its assortment of 8 paintings, 5 drawings, 16 etchings and a sculpture illustrating his artistic path through his favorite subjects (animals and portrays).
Hall XI. Reggio artist Marco Gerra, who died in 2000, is represented by a selection of works donated by his wife, Anna Maria Ternelli, in 2002. His entire artistic career is documented, from the figurative works he started with, to informal studies in the 1960s, and finally his use of an abstract artistic language.
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