PISA – A splendid and majestic canvas by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1654), almost three meters high, enriches the Blue Palace Museum in Pisa. It’s about the painting”Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well”which was purchased by Pisa Foundation for the museumin the late spring of this year.
“The foundation – Explains the President Stephen DelCorso – has always been committed to ensuring that Pisa can offer works of art and testimonies of cultural and historical value regarding the city and its territory on display; this also through the acquisition of important and representative works, linked to the territory by author, theme or client”.
“The purchase by the Pis Foundationa – Underline Cosimo Bracci Torsi President of Palazzo Blu – it also greatly enriches the nucleus, the only creed in our city, of works by the Gentileschis present here in Palazzo Blu”.
The work, in an extraordinary state of conservation, painted by Gentileschi during her stay in Naples (1630 – 1654), can be visited free of charge at Palazzo Blu from Friday 18 to Sunday 20 Novemberto then be included in the permanent collection.
After the acquisition, the painting underwent a careful restoration, carried out by a team of restorers led by Cinzia Pasquali, with Elisa Todisco, Elena Burchianti and Enrico Rossiwhich revealed the autograph signature of the artist.
“Although the work was in good condition – he claims Cosimo Bracci Torsi – it underwent in-depth study and a cleaning operation to remove layers of varnish, restorations and 19th-20th century repainting. This, in addition to restoring the extraordinary beauty of the work, also brought out a signature by Artemisia which represents, as well as a confirmation, a true rarity”.
” The restoration – he adds Francesco Solinas of the College de France – he revealed an astonishing pictorial quality by freeing the painting from old oxidized varnishes and overflowing retouches”.
A rare work documented since its creation
“Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well” it was painted by Artemisia between 1636 and 1637. In the painting, the “painter” describes the evangelical parable of John (verses 4,5-42), which inevitably brings us back to the intense religiosity of the Catholic Reformation, with an extraordinary realism imposed in painting by Caravaggio a few decades earlier.
Reading the painting – highlights Cosimo Bracci Torsi – “the precision with which the painting translates the text is noticeable: in the background the disciples returning from the city where they went to buy supplies; in the foreground the two figures around the well. However, it is the extraordinary strength of Artemisia’s art that makes the image speak: the sweet expression of Jesus’ face which, immersed in an already supernatural aura, says words that sound ambiguous and difficult, and the thoughtful attitude of the woman at first surprised and confused, then more and more fascinated, she tries with the practical experiences of her life and the traditions of her religion to understand the meaning of the divine master’s words”.
The canvas was identified in 2004 by Luciano Arcangeli and exhibited at Palazzo Reale in Milan in 2011.
“The painting – explains Solinas – it is described in detail (iconography and dimensions) by Artemisia Gentileschi herself in two letters dated autumn 1637 addressed to Cavalier Cassiano dal Pozzo, her illustrious admirer and protector at the court of Rome. Through the Knight, the artist offered the Samaritan woman to the cardinal brothers Francesco and Antonio Barberini, nephews of the reigning Pope Urban VIII; however, the large painting was never acquired by the prelates and remained in the artist’s Neapolitan workshop until its sale, probably after the artist’s return from London, in the spring of 1641“.
The work boasts an extraordinary collector’s pedigree meticulously reconstructed from Angheli Zalapì’s research in the Sicilian archives. Registered as early as 1680 in the post-mortem inventory of the Genoese entrepreneur and businessman Giovanni Stefano Oneto (about 1616-1680) first duke of Sperlinga, the work was traced in the collections of that family and its heirs until the 20th century century.