The Grand Duke's Portraitist
Cosimo III de' Medici and his "Chamber of Paintings" by Giusto Suttermans
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Exhibition Catalogue. Florence, Pitti Palace. Galleria Palatina (Sala Bianca)
16 June–22 October 2006
Giusto Suttermans was “rediscovered” in 1983, with a small exhibition Marco Chiarini and a group of collaborators dedicated to him in the “Sala delle Nicchie” of the Galleria Palatina. The event was held to celebrate the purchase, on the part of the Florentine galleries, of one of the three sketches for the enormous painting with the Oath of Loyalty of the Florentine Senate to Ferdinando II de’Medici, executed by Suttermans and placed, in 1626, in the “Sala delle Nicchie” in the cambered space above the main door.
The lunette was not displayed, since it was in a poor state of preservation due to the many decades it had passed in the storage rooms of the Florentine galleries. Along with the sketch purchased from a private collection, forty paintings by Suttermans, enriched with a nucleus of his drawings, were also showcased. An “appendix”, in the catalogue, rounded off this Flemish painter’s Florentine oeuvre, thereby giving a rather precise idea of the impressive consistency of his work for the Medici court.
Since then, Suttermans’ personality was outlined in a thorough profile by Lisa Goldenberg Stoppato in the catalogue of the noteworthy 1986 exhibition on seventeenth-century Florentine art. The Oath, which arrived at the Uffizi in 1733 and was placed by Lanzi, in 1782, in the “Sala della Niobe”, returned here in 2002 after a rather difficult restoration.
Before arriving at the Uffizi, at the end of the seventeenth century that painting, exceptional for its importance and size, was moved by Cosimo III to the second floor of his palace, in the room that had once been the Hearing Hall of Cardinal Leopoldo, who had died a few years earlier. It was precisely here that Cosimo wished to pay special tribute to his court painter, dedicating an exhibition, with forty works, to him.
This initiative, so ahead of its time and so modern, has today been re-proposed in the “Sala Bianca” of Palazzo Pitti, which greatly resembles the seventeenth-century, second-floor hall that no longer exists, thanks to one of its former collaborators, Lisa Goldenberg Stoppato, who began studying Suttermans for her thesis and who contributed on this specific topic in the catalogue for the 2004 exhibition on Cosimo III’s trip to Santiago de Compostela.
And so, in line with the tradition of the exhibitions at Pitti aimed at enhancing and spreading awareness and understanding of the palace’s artists and treasures, the circle that was opened in 1983 regarding the figure of Justus Suttermans comes to a close by re-proposing the exhibition of his paintings Grand Duke Cosimo III once dedicated to him.
- Edited by:
- Lisa Goldenberg
- 40 b&w and 25 colour illustrations