For a moment, Rome’s winter sky did not want to smile, as usual, at the familiar beauties of the capital, but rather at its most hidden ones: two brief and select exhibitions of 16th century High Renaissance art that were being held at the same time. The first, which ended in January 2022, took place in the Vatican as part of the Vatican celebrations of the Raphael Year, and was dedicated to the paintings depicting Saints Peter and Paul by Fra Bartolomeo and Raphael for the church of San Silvestro al Quirinale.
The other exhibition – at the Istituto centrale per la grafica in Rome, from December 14, 2021 to April 18, 2022 – is centered on Pontormo’s drawings in the Corsini collection. And as if that were not enough, the two events were joined by a third, the new reconfiguration of the 16th and 17th century gallery at the Palazzo Barberini. Even if we already knew that what was artistically born in Florence reached its maturity in Rome, being led into the heart of this process through three initiatives of great importance could not fail to attract the attention of scholars and admirers as well.
In this article we will focus on just one of these initiatives, the most recent: the exhibition of Pontormo’s drawings, which will take us back to the sources of Mannerism, one of the most fascinating, and certainly the most controversial style of the European Renaissance.
The little-known ‘Notebook’
At the foot of the Quirinale, a luminous exhibition presents the drawings of one of the principal figures of the second era of Italian Renaissance, Jacopo Carucci, known as Pontormo (1494-1557), after the hamlet near Empoli where he was born. The exhibition presents for the first time the entire collection ascribed to the artist and kept at the Istituto centrale per la grafica.