Visitors will be guided to discover artworks that lay great stress on representing reality, the cornerstone of Caravaggio’s revolution in the 17th century.
Artists have always explored the world around them, seeking to understand and represent it. Reality can be understood in many ways: it may be the ability to express emotions and moods pictorially, a fundamental purpose for Leonardo and his followers, as well as artists such as Moroni, Moretto and Fede Galizia. Or it may seek to depict the most minute details, an effort apparent in the still lifes and landscapes by the Flemish artists, who on our visit will enable us to illustrate in detail the pictorial genres favoured by Cardinal Federico.
If the paintings by Induno and Migliara, and the portraits of Hayez and Appiani seem closely related to the approach adopted in modern photography, with Caravaggio’s fruit basket – one of Borromeo’s favorite works – the innovations of his painting are illustrated in detail. He was not only very skilful in the realistic representation of many details, but through the genre of still life he created an extraordinary allegory of human existence.
At left, detail, Portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, Andrea Appiani (1754-1817), 1805, oil on canvas, 57 × 44 cm; at right, Mouse with Roses, Jan Brueghel the Elder, sometimes known as “Velvet Brueghel” (1568-1625), 1605, oil on copper, 7.2 × 10.2 cm