Shero paintings will sparkle in HKMoA "The way to the baroque" Exhibition | Exhibitions – | Candle Made Easy

For the first time ever, the Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA) has partnered with the Capodimonte Museum to bring 40 Baroque masterpieces from Italy to Hong Kong, allowing local art lovers to immerse themselves in the charm and splendor of Baroque art.

The Capodimonte Museum in Naples is one of the largest and most famous museums in Italy. It has some of the finest collections of Italian paintings in the world and attracts over 1 million visitors a year.

While the exhibition features paintings by legendary Baroque masters, don’t miss a rare painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few successful painters of her day, who portrayed the biblical heroine from the often-ignored female perspective.

Artemisia Gentileschi’s painting featured on the exhibition poster
Bernardo Cavallino, Saint Cecilia in ecstasy183×129 cm
Luca Giordano, Perseus and Medusa300x220cm
The exhibition

The Italian-born Baroque is another important period in Western art after the Renaissance. The Baroque art that dominated Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries is characterized by strong contrasts, rich deep colors, energetic compositions and exaggerated movements of the figures – all designed to provoke emotion and inspire awe.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Roman Catholic Church was corrupted from the pope down. Several attempts were made to reform and purify the church, most notably the rise of the Protestant Reformation.

Protestants were particularly opposed to idolatry, arguing that artwork based on biblical stories was against the law of God. They justifiably stormed the church, destroying thousands of sacred sculptures and paintings from the churches and even from the homes of nobles.

In response, the Catholic Church formed a Counter-Reformation. Hoping to revitalize its spirit, the church decided to bring images of religious worship back to the public and began commissioning monumental artworks that parried Protestant austerity with an appeal to emotion. The result is Baroque art, an age of grandeur and intense drama.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith and her maid Abra with the head of Holofernes272×221 cm

At a time when women were denied access to the traditional artistic education system, Artemisia Gentileschi is one of the first and very few women to pursue a successful career as a painter. She is best known for her dramatic yet elegant use of lighting, with her unique ability to depict both the physical body and psychological state of her female subjects.

depicting the story of Judith and Holofernes from the Old Testament Book of Judith, Judith and her maid Abra with the head of Holofernes is one of her four paintings on this subject. through this Painting tells Gentileschi a story of female revenge and solidarity.

The heroine Judith is a Jewish widow known for her beauty and charm. With courage and faith in God, she and her servant Abra saved their besieged city by assassinating the enemy’s leader, Holofernes. In the original story, Abra was supposed to wait outside the general’s tent. However, Gentileschi brings Abra into the tent and makes her an important accomplice by wrapping the bloody head of Holofernes in a cloth.

Gentileschi’s unique portrayal of Judith and Abra perhaps stems not only from their common gender but also from their traumatic experience. At the age of 17, Gentileschi, already a promising painter, was raped by Agostino Tassi, her father’s boyfriend. After taking Gentileschi’s virginity, he refused to marry her – because he had a wife.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria | Collection of the National Gallery, London

When her father sued the rapist, it was Gentileschi, not Tassi, who had to testify under Tortune, with loops of string around her fingers — just like the wedding ring Tassi had promised her, she wryly claimed. Since she had to put her future livelihood – a painter’s hand – at risk, she was undeterred and continued her claim.

During the trial, she recalled her attempt to attack Tassi with a knife and how she was betrayed by her female companion, who made sure the two were left alone. In the end, though convicted, Tassi never served his sentence because of his friend in the high papal offices.

Shattered by shame, Gentileschi left Rome and traveled across Italy to take revenge on the patriarchal system through art, the only way she knew of venting her emotions.

Francesco Guarino, Saint Agatha87×72 cm

Another Shero story depicted is Saint Agatha by Francesco Guarino. The dim light and looming shadows, the woman’s facial expression and the bleeding wound on her chest all achieved heightened drama, creating an atmosphere of mystery and suspense.

Saint Agatha was born in Sicily in AD 231 and dedicated her life to God from an early age. She lived as a consecrated virgin, promising to be a “bride of Christ” and to remain single. While she constantly rejected suitors, she could not escape Quintian, her city’s prefect at the time, who imprisoned and tortured Saint Agatha after she was rejected several times.

During detention, Agatha was stretched on a rack to be torn with iron hooks, burned with torches, and flogged—even her breasts were brutally cut off. In the face of possible death, Agtha simply reaffirms her faith through prayer—according to the Bible, during her suffering, the apostle Peter appeared to her and healed her wounds. After her martyrdom, Saint Agatha was commemorated by name in the Mass Canon and also as the patron saint of breast cancer patients.

Justus de Ribera, Apollo and Marsyas180×232 cm

chow chun fai, Kwan Kung and Alienphoto installation

In addition to the 40 paintings, the HKMoA has also invited three local artists to provide artistic responses to the works of the Baroque masters using various creative mediums, enriching the exhibition with a Hong Kong perspective.

Visual artist Chow Chun-fai, for example, reinterprets Baroque characters with photo installations and introduces elements of local culture into Baroque art to create a dazzling fusion of East and West. Also featured will be Baroque music and soundscapes, transporting audiences into an immersive experience created by Johny Poon, Associate Vice President and Founding Dean of Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Creative Arts.

Marcello Venusti, The Last Judgment (copy after Michelangelo)188×145 cm

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokópoulos), Boy blowing on an ember60.5×50.5 cm

Exhibition details:

Name: The Hong Kong Jockey Club Series: The Road to the Baroque – Masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum
Location: 2/F, Special Gallery, Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA)
Date: July 15 – November 2, 2022

  • Monday to Wednesday, Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m
  • Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m
  • Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m
  • Closed on Thursdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of Chinese New Year

Admission: $10 (Standard) | $7 (group) | $5 (concessions) | Free (museum pass)

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