Hurry to see Guglielmi fresco hidden for centuries

Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:10am EST
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By Eliza Apperly

ROME (Reuters Life!) - Gregorio Guglielmi's fresco "Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes" was hidden from the public eye for centuries but now, for the first time, admirers have five weeks to see the late Baroque masterpiece.

The six-by-10 meter fresco occupies an entire wall of an old refectory of the former convent of Sant'Agostino in Rome, which now houses the office of Italy's Attorney General.

Though Sant'Agostino, with its Caravaggio and Raphaels, and nearby Biblioteca Angelica are much frequented by visitors, the former convent itself has remained private access only.

Now an unprecedented exhibition has opened up the refectory and cloisters, redesigned in 1740 by Luigi Vanvitelli, to the public temporarily in an initiative aimed both at illuminating the convent's history and promoting the work of Guglielmi.

Little known today, he was one of the most sought-after painters of his time, with commissions across Europe such as work for Catherine II of Russia and Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.

"He was immensely popular with many powerful patrons of the day," said Edith Gabrielli, curator of the exhibition in Rome.

"We wanted to transport an exhibition here to the site of one of his most important works so that the public might rediscover his painting and appreciate the development of his style," Gabrielli told Reuters.

It is organized chronologically, with the "Multiplication" as the focal point. A luminous and lavish composition, it is more evocative of pastoral idyll than a biblical narrative.   Continued...