Paintings by Garofalo from the
San Bernardino Convent
On 8 August 2008 in the Winter Palace (Hall 152) the exhibition “Paintings
by Garofalo from the San Bernardino Monastery” opened. It has been organized
by the State Hermitage in conjunction with the Art Museum of the Far East
in Khabarovsk with the support of the Administration of the Khabarovsk
Territory, EMERCOM (the Russian Federation Ministry of Emergency Situations)
and the Hermitage–Italy Foundation. The exhibition is devoted to Benvenuto
Tisi da Garofalo (1481-1559), one of the foremost artists in 16th-century
Italy. In 1531 Garofalo suffered the misfortune to go blind in one eye.
In the hope of preserving his remaining sight, the artist vowed to God
to continue working without charge on a series of paintings for the Convent
of San Bernardino in his native city of Ferrara. The nunnery had been
founded in 1510 by Lucrezia Borgia, the wife of Duke Alfonso d’Este. In
keeping with the ruling family’s striving to turn Ferrara into a “bulwark
of Christianity”, Lucrezia generously patronized the local convents.
The Convent of San Bernardino existed until 1798, when it was dissolved
as a result of Napoleon’s invasion. But as early as 1792 the impoverished
nuns sold eight canvases to Pope Pius VI. In 1840 Count Pio Braschi decided
to part with the valuables accumulated by his uncle, Pius VI. In accordance
with Nicholas I’s wishes, along with other items four paintings by Garofalo
were acquired for the Hermitage: The Marriage at Cana, An Allegory of
the Old and New Testaments, The Carrying of the Cross and The Miracle
of the Loaves and Fishes. The last was transferred in 1931 to the newly-created
Art Museum of the Far East in Khabarovsk. Visitors to the Hermitage have
the rare opportunity to see this canvas at a temporary exhibition that
reunites all four works (the Allegory of the Old and New Testaments was
kept rolled up for many years and only unrolled and restored in 2007).
The curator of the exhibition and author of the illustrated booklet (State
Hermitage Publishing House) is Tatyana Kustodiyeva, leading researcher
in the Hermitage’s Department of Western European Fine Art with a Candidate’s
Degree in Art History.
Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the State Hermitage, at the conference
marking the opening of the exhibition
Tatyana Kustodiyeva, the curator of the exhibition, speaking at the conference
Liudmila Kozlova, Deputy Director of the Art Museum of the Far East in
Khabarovsk, Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Director of the State Hermitage, and
Tatyana Kustodiyeva, leading researcher in the Hermitage’s Department of
Western European Fine Art, the curator of the exhibition.
At the exhibition