Treasures of Italy's Marche region on show at Vatican

Thu May 17, 2012 7:58am EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - If you wanted to admire masterpieces of religious art by Titian, Raphael, Lorenzo Lotto, Guido Reni, Carlo Crivelli and other masters in museums around Italy's central Marche region, it could cost you a few weeks of time and a hefty hotel bill.

Now, 50 paintings from 15 museums in the region rich in natural beauty and artistic heritage are on exhibition at the Vatican.

Called "Meraviglie dalle Marche," or Marvels from the Marche, the one-stop viewing for paintings from the region opened recently in the Braccio Carlo Magno exhibition space in St Peter's Square.

It includes works such as a lesser-known version of Raphael's "Saint Catherine of Alexandria," (the most famous one is in the National Gallery in Washington), Titian's "Resurrection", and Guido Reni's "Annunciation" and "Saint Sebastian".

The paintings, spanning more than 400 years of Italian religious art, are on loan from public and Church-owned museums in Urbino, Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Fabriano, Loreto, Jesi and six other cities and towns in the Marche region.

Although the exhibition includes only one painting by Raphael, he takes pride of place, if only because he is the Marche's most famous artistic son, having been born in Urbino in 1483.

Believed to have been painted when Raphael was about 18 years old, "Saint Catherine of Alexandria" measures only 15 cm by 40 cm (6 inches by 15 inches), leading art historians to surmise that it was once part of a triptych whose other two pieces have gone missing.

It shows Saint Catherine in a reflective mood and standing on a wagon wheel and has a Latin inscription painted in gold on the back.   Continued...

A visitor admires St. Sebastian, a painting by 17th century master Guido Reni, on show in the Vatican’s Braccio Carlo Magno exhibition space in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 16, 2012. St. Sebastian is one of 50 paintings from 15 museums in Italy’s central Marche region on loan for the exhibition, called “Marvels from the Marche”. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito