Atalanta and Hippomenes, ca. 1620–25, Guido Reni, Italian, 1575–1642,
oil on canvas, 75 9/16 x 103 15/16 in.,
Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Flesh and Blood: ItalianMasterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum is the new Seattle Art Museum exhibition which opened in mid-october. 39 paintings and one statue from the Renaissance and Baroque periods have been brought from the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, showing the work of major Italian, French and Spanish artists : Artemisia Gentileschi, El Greco, Parmigianino, Raphael, Guido Reni, Jusepe de Ribera, Titian, to name a few.

Saint Jerome, 1626, Jusepe de Ribera, Spanish, 1591–1652,
oil on canvas, 1051/8 × 64 9/16 in.,
Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

The Capodimonte Museum, a royal palace, was built in 1738 under the reign of Charles of Bourbon, king of Naples and Sicily. The Capodimonte Museum hosts one of the largest art collections in the world, the main part of which comes from the Farnese collection: antiques, paintings and statues. These pieces were acquired in the 16th century, a period suffused with creativity, inspiration and a constant search for beauty, and in the Baroque 17th century, characterized by greatness, dramatic realism and theatricality.

Drunken Silenus, 1626, Jusepe de Ribera,Spanish, 1591–1652,
oil on canvas, 72 13/16 × 90 3/16 in.,
Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

It is the first time so many pieces of the museum are sent abroad at the same time.

Interaction between the Human and the Divine is a strong feature. Contrasts are also prominent:  some pieces show very soft faces infused with light, while others are misshapen or express terrible suffering. A gory painting will be placed next to a piece with a celestial feel and light-infused faces.

To fully grasp the meaning of the paintings, one has to read the explanations and chronological markers provided.

The exhibition starts with a beautiful rendition of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese by Raphael, followed by a portray of Pope Paul III by Titian.

Pope Paul III, 1543, Titian, Italian, 1488/90–1576,
oil on canvas, 44 3/4 × 34 15/16 in.,
Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Following, some of the pieces we found most striking:

Judith and Holofernes
This myth is rendered by a woman painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, who painted this piece in 1610 (beginning of the Baroque period). It reflects perfectly the theme of the exhibition, Flesh and Blood. Another version of Judith and Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi, is presented at the Uffizi Museum in Florence.

Judith and Holofernes, ca. 1612–17, Artemisia Gentileschi, Italian, 1593–ca.1653,
oil on canvas, 62 5/8 x 49 5/8 in.,
Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

This piece by is considered by many as one of the most beautiful examples of a woman’s portray at this period.

Antea, ca. 1535, Parmigianino, Italian,1503–1540,
oil on canvas, 53 9/16 x 33 7/8 in.,
Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

This is the first Danae painted by Titian and his workshop. The subject was a popular one and many versions followed, one of which is held by the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

Danae, 1544–45, Titian, Italian, 1488/90–1576,
oil on canvas, 34 15/16 x 44 3/4 in.,
Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Boy Blowing on an Ember
This piece painted by El Greco expresses light versus darkness. Direct light, without diffusion, creates lighting effects that contrast with the dark areas used as a background.

Boy Blowing on an Ember, 1571–72, El Greco, Greek, ca. 1541–1614,
oil on canvas, 23 13/16 × 19 7/8 in.,
Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Annibale Carracci’s Pieta was commissioned by Cardina Farneses in 1599. After offering the painting as a gift, the cardinal commissioned a new painting by Caracci, on the same subject. This one is shown at the Louvre.

Pietà, 1599–1600, Annibale Carracci, Italian, 1560–1609,
oil on canvas, 61 7/16 × 58 11/16 in.,
Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Flesh and Blood, an exhibition opened at the Seattle Art Museum until January 26th.