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Galleria Borghese director unveils China's first Caravaggio exhibition

Wang Siwen


Major international exhibitions returns to China. The Museum of Art Pudong has partnered with Galleria Borghese to present "Caravaggio: Wonders of the Italian Baroque" – China's first exhibition featuring the Italian master. As part of our "Art Without Boundaries" series, reporter Wang Siwen exclusively interviewed with Francesca Cappelletti, the director of Galleria Borghese, on how art has become a universal language and a timeless experience shared by both countries.

First collection featuring Caravaggio in China

The Galleria Borghese, Rome's most beautiful museum, holds the largest number of Caravaggio works in a single collection, bringing Caravaggio's masterpieces to Chinese audiences for the first time. In an exhibition featuring more than 60 paintings, a wide range of Baroque art is showcased.

"This exhibition really picks the most beautiful masterpieces from the Galleria Borghese. I think it is very good to know they are the first paintings in the history of the Galleria Borghese. So it's a great moment to understand not only the beauty of Italian collections from the Baroque era, but also the story of one of the most beautiful collections of art that is renowned across Europe, and the world. At this time, I can feel that this is the core of the collection and a very good example of this great history of the birth of museums in Europe," said Francesca Cappelletti, director of the Galleria Borghese.

Caravaggio, a revolutionary painter

"I think that Caravaggio was really a revolutionary painter and he had his style, a powerful style, painting with contrast between light and shadow, and he was really keen on doing something completely new," Cappelletti continued.

"When he entered Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome it was in 1599, and the new century was just about to start. In a sense, after this work, nothing like this had been seen before in Italian art or in European art. If we look at 'The Boy with a Basket of Fruit,' this obviously is one of my favorite paintings in the exhibition. We can see it as a starting point of the still life because we have these beautiful baskets of different fruits touched by the passing of time. So it's something that we can really feel at this way of understanding."  

A combination of baroque art and music

"I think that the connection with music is an important one, because this unity of art is one of the main points of baroque art – that art should work altogether to express wonder. So I think that listening to the music while looking at the paintings is just a great experience for our souls," Cappelletti added.

Cultural exchanges between China and Italy

Cappelletti continued: "We try to expend our horizons by understanding a different kind of art history, so I think that it's a great experience to have an exchange between cultures that have a really long history and share a deep sense of beauty – even if beauty can be different geographically. This is a great experience for the public to appreciate another kind of art with very long history."

Every day is different as a museum curator

"Being the director of the museum can be very busy, and there is no one day that is similar to another. I have to deal with issues of a museum that's open to the public, whether it's here or in the rest of the world. More than this, we offer a great cultural program for our public every day. We have a lot of international relationships with other museums around the world, so my days are quite busy.

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