Collections – Paintings

Entering the churches, parishes, in some museums of the countries of our region can lead us to know the artistic movements that vary considerably. The Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art of Santa Severina is a Calabrian organization that is hosts a series of paintings, about forty, all belonging to the Christian religious area. The historical context is the key point where we must begin to reconstruct the story of each particular work in order to understand the various artistic movements that covered the region of Calabria.
The main client who requested works of art that had to have the taste of the time, it was mainly the ecclesiastical institution especially bishops and in some cases even parish priests. From different backgrounds, are the shops that participated in the making of a body of paintings, most of which have as their point of reference the Neapolitan school, a center of excellence and cultural port through which passed artists from all over Europe.
The paintings in the museum, as well as other situations in Calabria, have been designed to be displayed, in most cases, in churches for devotional functions oriented to show the individual’s relationship with the sacred.

The painters who have marked their passage in Santa Severina, mainly from the sixteenth to the twentieth century are the products of the artistic movements that probably tried to get close to the great masters of the time, sometimes copying and sometimes even reprocessing them with remarkable originality. The Madonna and Child, probably from a Tuscan workshop, with a strong emotional involvement and attention to the typical landscape of the eighteenth century, or the painting of St. Anthony of Padua, a memento mori dating from the mid-seventeenth century, characterized by warm colours that emerge from a dark background, are a shining example of a refined quality that surrounded the diocese of Santa Severina.

The gallery of bishops, depicted on paintings for the most part of the twentieth century is particular. It documents the presence of these important characters that have changed in a thousand year span, first as metropolitans and then as archbishops, the story of Santa Severina. The most direct and significant image is that of the Archbishop Ludovico del Gallo, represented by the painter, also anonymous, with a long white beard, dressed in an embroidered cassock, the right hand indicates the library behind him with a clear reference to his taste for culture.

Moreover, another nine restored paintings were accepted recently in the picture gallery of the museum, all dating back to the eighteenth century, linked to several smaller shops in southern Italy with figurative representations always related to the liturgical-religious context.

(Taken from ‘Museo Diocesano Di Arte Sacra Santa Severina – Catalogo delle opere’, text by Ferdinando Panza)