Masterpieces from the World’s Museums in the Hermitage.
26 October, 2010 a new exhibition Titian. The Virgin and Child with Saint Catherine (The Madonna with a Rabbit) from the Musée du Louvre, Paris from the cycle Masterpieces from the World’s Museums in the Hermitage was opened in the New Hermitage (Room 233, Italian Cabinets) and once again it proved strength of bonds which we have formed with the best foreign collections of works of art.
The Virgin and Child with Saint Catherine byVenetian artistTitian Vecellio, represented at the exposition was not chosen occasionally: with apparent simplicity and naiveté this small picture combines innovative, vivacious and original ideas, born and got their strength in the Venetian painting at the very beginning of the 16th century. A new direction, appeared in art, laid the road to the landscape as an independent genre. Titian’s picture is quintessence of new understanding of the place of the human being in the world, which clearly manifested itself in the Venetian art in the first decade of the 16th century. The beginning of all this was laid by Giorgione (1477/1478–1510). Over his short life he managed to drop seeds which gave their rich crops very soon: within an extremely short by historic measures term – two decades – Venetian painting managed to reach amazing, astonishing for contemporaries, corporality, persuasiveness in delivery of both physical perfection of the human being and movements of his soul as well as state of nature.
Titian painted The Madonna with a Rabbit in the beginning of 1530: there is a letter of Giambattista Malatesta, charge d’affaires of the Duke of Mantua to Federico II Gonzaga in which he informed his lord that the artist promised to finish The Virgin and Child with Saint Catherine by the Easter. There is a document, dated March of the same year which proves payment for the order.
The work of art from Louvre may be considered as a tribute of respect to Giorgione, the senior friend and teacher: as if in this picture Titian says good-bye to a beautiful world having opened to him in his youth. He never again painted such a peaceful idyllic scene, he never again was able to return to that ideal Arcadia he used to create together with Giorgione.
For almost a century The Virgin and Child with Saint Catherine was propertyof the Gonzaga family (it was mentioned in the inventory of this richest collection made in 1627), until Duke Vincenzo II decided to part with it and some other works of the great masters of Renaissance – Mantegna, Costa, Perugino; all of them were gifted to Cardinal Richelieu. After death of Cardinal in 1642 the owner of the picture became his heir Duke Richelieu. Once, having a game of ball with Louis XIV Duke passionately set his collection on stake and having lost he had to give 25 pictures for 5,000 livres to the King. So The Madonna with a Rabbit moved to the French Royal collection and at the present it is kept in the Louvre.
The famous French museum has provided this outstanding work of art in sign of gratitude for displaying of the picture by Paolo Veronese Christ Lamentation from the State Hermitage collection in Paris last year.
Exhibition Curators – Irina Artemjeva, Leading Scientific Researcher of the West European Fine Arts Department of the State Hermitage, PhD in Art History, and Jean Habert, chief curator in the Department of Paintings at the Musée du Louvre.