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.