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Art Exhibit at Castello Ursino

January 23, 2018



I always enjoy visiting Castello Ursino in Catania.  Castello Ursino is a medieval castle built in  the 13th century by the King of Sicily at that time, Frederick II from the Hohenstaufen dynasty.  This castle is certainly worth visiting when traveling to Catania. Nowadays, the Castle is a museum holding permanent exhibits as well as periodic ones.  One of the exhibits currently on display, running from October 2017 to May 2018 is entitled da Giotto a De Chirico – I tesori nascosti – from Giotto to De Chirico – The Hidden Treasures, curated by Antonio Sgarbi.  There are audio guides available that I strongly recommend listening to while visiting the exhibit.

Listening to the audio guides of this exhibit one learns that the works of art on display come from a variety of sources and do not follow one specific theme or one specific school of thought. These works come from private collections, foundations and have not been on public display before this time.

Upon entering the exhibit, one finds the two sculptures of heads seen below which date back to the thirteenth century. They have come from the Imperial Palace in Foligno. The sculptures were carried out by a sculptor from the Frederick II era and they present a comparison between ancient art and Roman art. They have been called the first Italian faces.


There are many exceptional works of art to enjoy in the exhibit, although  I shall mention only a few in this post.

Below is a portrait of the Madonna by Giotto; Giotto created this painting at the beginning of his career.


I giganti assaltano l’Olimpo – The Giants assail Olympus.  Work by Giuseppe Cesari who was the teacher of the world famous painter, Caravaggio.


Maddalena addolorata- Heartbroken Magdalen by Michelangelo Merisi known as Caravaggio; through his style, Caravaggio presented the human side of his subjects.


The painting below is Platone, Plato; the painter is Jusepe De Ribera. The painting was originally owned by a Jewish family, but as no family member claimed the work of art after WWII,  fifty years later the painting  was sold at an auction in Austria.


Ritratti dei Principini Marescotti di Parrano (Allegoria dei cinque sensi) – Portraits of the Marescotti di Parrano by Sebastiano Ceccarini, XVIII century.  Each of the subjects in the painting represent one of the five senses by what they are doing but their characterization stands to represent the power of a lavish lifestyle.


Below, Allegoria dell’Inverno by Gusto Le Court – Allegory of Winter. While viewing this sculpture and listening to the description of each element of the work that represents its theme, Winter, one can feel mesmerized by the superb work.  I was!


Antonio Ligabue – Autoritratto – Self Portrait


Giorgio De Chirico – I Bagni Misteriosi – The Mysterious Baths

De Chirico told that the idea for this painting came to him while he was observing a man walking in front of him on marble floors that had been waxed and were very shiny.   The reflection on the floors made the author think of a pool in which he could just get lost. The painting presents symbols of childhood, classical times, ancient ruins, and skyscrapers in NY.


I would recommend allowing several hours to visit the Castello Ursino and its exhibits.  I did and enjoyed every moment!





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