WORKS FROM 15TH CENTURY TO THE 20TH CENTURY
The Civic Art Gallery houses a unique collection of artwork, mostly paintings, owned by the Municipality of Reggio Calabria. The older works (I group: 15th -19th century) originate from the collections of the former Civic Museum, founded in 1882 and closed in 1948. The more modern works (II group – 20th century) come from purchases and donations.
The most valuable pieces from the collections of the former museum are undoubtedly the two wooden tablets “San Girolamo penitente” (St. Jerome penitent) and “Tre Angeli in Visita ad Abramo” (Three Angels Visiting Abraham) painted by Antonello Da Messina around 1460 and purchased by the Municipality of Reggio Calabria in 1890 from Giovanbattista Rota, descendant of a noble family from Reggio. However, “Il ritorno del figliol prodigo” (Return of the Prodigal Son) by Mattia Preti and “La battaglia di Capua” (Battle of Capua) by Andrea Cefaly stand out as being of significant importance.
In the second group, there are many works by Calabrian artists including the nineteenth century landscapes by Ignazio Lavagna Fieschi and his pupil Giuseppe Benassai, sculptures by Francesco Jerace and twentieth century paintings by Rubens Santoro, Francesco Raffaele, Antonio Cannata, Enzo Benedetto and sculptures by Pasquale Panetta and Saverio Gatto. Other artists represented are Giovanni Omiccioli, Giampiero Restellini and Renato Guttuso. Guttuso’s ink drawing on paper “Pescatore di Scilla” (Fisherman of Scilla) was included in the Biennale Calabrese in 1949.
The Civic Art Gallery is housed in these premises on the first floor of the Theatre “F. Cilea” built between 1920 and 1931 by Domenico De Simone and Carlo Laviny. The renovation was designed by the architect Fabio Mariano and took place between 2006 and 2008. Of particular importance is the central hall which as been painted with faux marble decorations on the walls. With stucco decorations and gold borders it is enhanced by three beautiful chandeliers in murano glass.
THE EXHIBITION ITINERARY
There are fifteen exhibition rooms totalling 500 square metres. All works are displayed chronologically. ROOM 1 is dedicated to the two wooden tablets by Antonello da Messina. In ROOM 2 are works on wood made between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, a sixteenth-century marble sculpture of “Laocoonte” (Laocoön) attributed to Pietro Berniniand paintings from the seventeenth century, including “Cristo e l’adultera” (Christ and the Adulteress) by Luca Giordano. In ROOMS 3-4 the itinerary continues through the works of the seventeenth century, among which is “Il Ritorno del Figliol Prodigo” (Return of the Prodigal Son) by Mattia Preti. The most important eighteenth century works from the Municipal collection are located in the CENTRAL HALL (ROOM 5).
These consist of paintings by Vincenzo Cannizzaro, landscapes by Salvator Rosa, still-lifes by De Caro and the painting “Cantiere di Navi” (Shipyards) by Adrien Manglard. In ROOM 6 there are other works from the eighteenth century, while in ROOM 7 some nineteenth century portraits of famous people from Reggio Calabria’s history are on display. Of particular note are “Ritratto di Certosino” (Portrait of a Carthusian) by Joel Covelli and “Ritratto di Fanny Salazar” (Portrait of Fanny Salazar) by Vincenzo Jerace. In the centre of ROOM 8 there is a display of nineteenth century landscapes by local artists Ignazio Lavagna Fieschi, Giuseppe Benassai, Annunziato and Tommaso Vitrioli and also includes “La Battaglia di Capua” (Battle of Capua) by Andrea Cefaly and the sculpture “Nosside di Locri” (Nossis from Locri) by Francesco Jerace. In the SAME ROOM, ON THE SIDE WALLS, (AREAS 9-10), are the twentieth century works by the Calabrians Rubens Santoro, Francesco Raffaele, Antonio Cannata and Enzo Benedetto and works by other artists such as Giovanni Omiccioli, Giampiero Restellini and Renato Guttuso. In room 11 there is an exhibition of sculptures by Pasquale Panetta, Saverio Gatto and Emilio Caputo. In the hall way (room 12) there are further paintings from the eighteenth century and, finally, in rooms 13-14 works by Annunziato (1830-1900) and Tommaso Vitrioli (1857-1931).