Thanks to the importance of its italian paintings collection, the Palais Fesch-musée des Beaux-Arts has undertook the mission to deepen studies relating to italian schools of painting from the Seventeenth Century, which are rare in french museums. That is the reason why the previous exhibitions were dedicated to Florence, Milan and Venice. Rome in the baroque era is better known by the general public in both France and the world, but that of the Eighteenth Century, before the institutionalization of the Grand Tour and the raise of neo-classicism, remains a rather obscure period still. In France, the Palais Fesch may very well be the place where the most art pieces from this era are held, all made by artists residing in Rome. That is more justification than needed to organize an exhibition about the subject.
The exhibition focuses on the first half of the century, when the late baroque esthetics dominated by the strong personalities of Bernini and Carlo Maratti transitioned to a contrasted and complex cultural zeitgeist in which the influence of the masters from centuries prior remained a determining point of reference, all the while italian and foreign artists kept introducing innovations.
The multiple aspects of this time in Rome’s history are showcased throughout the exhibition: Rome as painted in the veduta (view), captivating the first “Grand tourists”, Rome as the birthplace of the Academies, as well as the Rome of the French and that of the great holidays and celebrations, princely palaces and their sets, and last but not least the city of the Church and its ostentation.