Farnese Exhi­bi­tion in Parma

10. March 2022

On 18 March the exhi­bi­tion I Farnese. Archi­tet­tura, Arte, Potere will open in Parma at the Comp­lesso monu­men­tale della Pilotta. It will continue until 31 July, 2022.

The exhi­bi­tion, curated by Simone Verde, will will take a compre­hen­sive view on the Farnese family’s coll­ec­tions and their patro­nage of archi­tec­ture, dance, theater and music in the sixte­enth century. It will bring toge­ther extra­or­di­nary loans, many from the Museo di Capo­di­monte in Naples, of works that were once coll­ected and displayed in the family’s Parma palaces.

The Parma show traces the rise of the upstart Farnese family from their origins as cond­ot­tieri north of Rome, to their rapid ascent after the elec­tion of Ales­sandro Farnese as Paul III, to their stan­ding as a powerful dynasty with bran­ches throug­hout Europe and close connec­tions to the Habs­burg and Portu­guese ruling houses.

A volume of coll­ected essays to be published in conjunc­tion with the exhi­bi­tion will consider the Farnese family’s extra­or­di­nary trajec­tory within Italian and Euro­pean contexts, with a focus on the impact of emer­ging global Iberian empires. The book will include essays by Simone Verde, Davide Papotti, David Abulafia, Serge Gruzinski, Ales­sandra Russo, Richard Bösel, Salva­tore Settis, Cathe­rine Flet­cher, Madda­lena Spagnolo, Kelly Helmstutler Di Dio, Anne­marie Jordan Gschwend, and Girolamo Imbruglia.

Kath­leen Chris­tian contri­buted the essay Le colle­zioni Farnese nel Cinque­cento e la geopo­li­tica dell’Impero. It argues that one of the themes that emerges most promin­ently in the Farese coll­ec­tions is empire: the coll­ec­tions arti­cu­lated not only the concept of a reborn ancient Roman empire, but also an affi­lia­tion with the most successful empire-buil­ders of the sixte­enth-century, the Habs­burg and Portu­guese courts. Atten­tion to this context broa­dens the scope of inte­rest in the Farnese beyond their iden­tity as ‘Italian Renais­sance’ princes focused on huma­nism and antique revival. It contex­tua­lises in a broader geopo­li­tical sphere the major coll­ec­tions of anti­qui­ties amassed by the Roman branch of the family, which are cata­logued in the Census.

As part of this focus on the Farnese, the Census student assistants have been updating the records of the data­base related to the Farnese anti­qui­ties and other works of art now housed in the Museo Archeo­lo­gico Nazio­nale in Naples. This update, expected to be completed in the Summer of 2022, will add c. 350 new photo­graphs of objects in the Museo Archeo­lo­gico to the Census database.