Famous art expert finds a masterpiece of 17th century by Italian artist in Kazan
The masterpiece of the painter of the early Baroque era was discovered in Kazan by reputable Italian art historian Massimo Pulini. The art expert attributed the painting “Susanna and the Elders” to Italian artist of the 17th century to Giovanni Giacomo Sementi. Undoubtedly, this landmark event in the world of art will serve as a new tourist magnet for the Tatarstan capital, and acquaintance with the Large Collection of Fine Arts ASG, where the canvas is stored, and other collections of paintings will fill the stay of guests of the city with important cultural content. Thus, despite the difficult geopolitical situation in the world, Russia and, in particular, Tatarstan maintain contacts in the international art criticism sphere. Who knows, perhaps culture will become a new bridge of friendship between countries.
“I think it was written exactly by Sementi”
Massimo Pulini, a well-known expert in the field of Italian painting of the 17th century in Europe, artist, art critic, made an interesting discovery in Kazan. The art historian, having studied one of the canvases of the old masters, came to the conclusion that this is the work of Italian artist Giovanni Giacomo Sementi, not his workshop, as previously assumed. We are talking about the painting “Susanna and the Elders”, dating from 1616-1626, which is kept in the International Museum of Antiques.
“This painting by Sementi is at the crossroads of two pictorial manners — the artist himself and Guido Reni. I think that the French expert who made the initial attribution very correctly caught the dual nature of this work. That is why, in addition to Sementi, he also mentions the workshop in the attribution, as if emphasising that more than one artist participated in its creation. But I think it was written exactly by Sementi," art critic Massimo Pulini is convinced.
Sementi is an early Baroque painter, student of other famous artists Denis Calvart and Guido Reni. Among his famous works, there are “The Death of Saint Joseph” (Church di San Mamante, Bologna), “The Martyrdom of St. Catherine” and “The Martyrdom of St. Eugenia” (the last two in the National Art Gallery of Bologna). The plot of “Susanna and the Elders” is often found in the paintings of famous masters such as Rubens, Tintoretto, Ricci, Guercini and others, but Giacomo Sementi's is unique in his own way.
“Sementi's painting “Susanna and the Elders” from your collection is very important in studying the evolution of his work. By it, one can judge what was the manner and skill level of Sementi at the very beginning of his collaboration with Guido Reni. In this picture, we simultaneously see the independent style of Sementi, and at the same time — Reni's style. Thus, this artist's painting is at a crossroads — Sementi is looking for his place in the world. The artist's search for himself is always very interesting," Pulini stressed.
The specialist in the field of attribution and examination of works of art, cooperating with the famous auctions of Christie's, Sotheby's, Dorotheum, highly appreciated the work of the International Institute of Antiques and called the collection of Italian paintings by ASG magnificent.
“The DNA of every Italian is permeated with art”
Director of the International Institute of Antiques Alina Bulgakova talked with an Italian expert via video link:
“We are grateful to the maestro for the attention to our collection of paintings, for the cooperation. We are very pleased that Massimo Pulini turned out to be open to dialogue and gave his consent to the interview," she said.
“I am glad to meet you, it is a great honour for me," the art critic expressed his gratitude in return.
During the conversation, the topics of Italian painting by old masters, art in business, love of history, issues of art education and teaching were discussed.
“Italy and art are inseparable, the DNA of every Italian is permeated with art. For me, every work of art has a certain symbolism, conveys certain meanings. And this phenomenon has always attracted me very much," said Massimo Pulini.
The teacher of higher educational institutions of Bologna and Rome admitted that he lives two lives: as an artist and as a teacher, lecturing students on the history of art. As a painter, he participated in European and international exhibitions. Some received recognition in the Vatican.
“I've recently attributed paintings by Caravaggio. Now I am studying the works of a follower of Caravaggio — this is the artist Bartolomeo Mendossi," Pulini said.
The conversation turned to the topic of patronage and private collections.
“I believe that, having some kind of painting, the collector is not its owner, but its keeper. Thus, we protect it and share this work with other people," the art critic believes.
“Many paintings are waiting to be discovered”
The ASG Exhibition Centre turned 10 years old last year. At the first stage, the collection of the private collection for Aleksey Semin was a personal hobby, but later the hobby turned into something more — there was a desire to share the beautiful with Kazan residents and guests of the city.
Today, there are more than 6 thousand art objects in the collection. These are Western European furniture, European paintings, old masters watches and objects of artistic bronze, silver and porcelain. One of the most significant not only among private, but also state museums is the collection of tapestries — 28 exhibits.
Massimo Pulini noted that he and other experts are mostly familiar with the collections of Italian paintings that are presented in museums in Moscow and St. Petersburg. At the same time, there are still many unfamiliar, but no less valuable private collections in the regions of Russia, the art critic believes.
“Many paintings are waiting to be discovered," the artist noted.
As for Sementi's masterpiece, such discoveries make Kazan even more attractive in the field of cultural tourism development, experts say. Besides, it brings our city to a new level of international cooperation in the field of art. Although relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated markedly recently, many believe that it is cultural ties and art itself that can change this, and beauty will save the world again.
The full text of Pulini's interview can be found on the website of the Mir Iskusstv magazine.