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Turin hosts Mattia Preti showcase

Palace of Venaria exhibition features 30 works

14 May, 18:59
Turin hosts Mattia Preti showcase (By Sandra Cordon) (ANSA) - Turin, May 14 - A Caravaggio masterpiece will be a highlight of a new exhibition of works by one of his followers from southern Italy's Calabria region.

"Between Caravaggio and Luca Giordano" is the title of the exhibition of some 30 works by Mattia Preti that will open Thursday near Turin and continue through mid-September.

The Preti exhibit comes on the 400th anniversary of the painter's birth in Calabria and is curated by art critic Vittorio Sgarbi and by Keith Sciberras, a professor of art history at the University of Malta.

According to organizers, the exhibition opens with one of Caravaggio's most famous paintings: Rest on the Flight into Egypt, dated 1595-1596 and loaned from Galleria Doria Pamphilj in Rome. This work, painted by a young Caravaggio not long after he arrived in Rome, is described as "an extraordinarily innovative painting that contains the early signs of the naturalism that will soon characterize subsequent works".

Preti, who was born in the small town of Taverna in Calabria in 1613, is said to have been deeply influenced by Caravaggio's style as he served his painting apprenticeship.

That style stuck with Preti throughout his career.

He worked for a time in Rome with his brother Gregorio Preti, who was also a painter, and where he became more familiar with the techniques of Caravaggio and other masters.

Later in life, Preti worked in Naples, where he was influenced by a major Neapolitan painter of his era, Luca Giordano. Preti died in Malta, moving there after he was made a Knight of Malta by Pope Urban VIII.

The venue for the Preti exhibit is almost as fascinating as the art itself.

The Palace of Venaria near Turin, known in Italian as the Reggia di Venaria Reale, was one of the 17th-century homes of the Royal House of Savoy.

Included on the UNESCO Heritage List in 1997, it is one of the largest royal residences in the world, and is a complex said to be comparable in grandeur to Versailles near Paris.

Some say Venaria Reale is one of the most beautiful architectural complexes within Italy: a monumental palace of 80,000 square meters of floor space and boasting some of the highest expressions of the Baroque style. Today, it also includes about 2,000 meters of exhibition space, and 80 hectares of surrounding gardens.

The palace complex is known for acclaimed exhibitions, including a recent presentation of works by Renaissance master Lorenzo Lotto.

Its Baroque presence was created in the mid-seventeenth century by Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy, but was reborn as a symbol of modernity and culture in October 2007, when it was inaugurated as an exhibition complex. The Palace of Venaria consortium is also a sponsor of the Tour Around Italy photographic exhibition, which was created by the ANSA news agency and features 100 digital images to better explain and promote Italy abroad.

Tour Around Italy is also sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Embassy in the United States, and the Milan Expo 2015 committee as part of the wider initiative: "2013 - Year of Italian Culture in the United States," which is designed to boost awareness throughout the US of all that Italy has to offer.

The Year of Italian Culture involves more than 180 events curated by the Italian embassy in Washington and by Italian consulates and cultural institutes in more than 40 U.S. cities.

The ANSA photo exhibition can be visited virtually, via a free Apple Store application.