Art Gallery

Last update 27 July 2023

The paintings displayed in the art gallery of Palazzo Farnese, besides dating back to a wide time span (from the 14th to the 19th century), have different origins.

The paintings displayed in the art gallery of Palazzo Farnese, besides dating back to a wide time span (from the 14th to the 19th century), have different origins: some come from churches in Piacenza, some from private collections, 


 not to mention the paintings belonging to ‘Fasti Farnesiani’ (Farnese’s splendours). Among the collections, a very remarkable one is Collezione Rizzi-Vaccari, which enriched the Art Gallery with paintings and sculptures ranging from the 14th to the 16th century. The most important work of art on display in the gallery is the Tondo representing the Virgin adoring Jesus with Saint Giovannino by Alessandro Filipepi, also known as  Botticelli.






Collezione Rizzi - Vaccari












 Adoration of the Magi - Simone de' Crocefissi  second half of the 14th century

Collezione Rizzi-Vaccari was given to Musei Civici of Palazzo Farnese by Augusto and Mariapina Rizzi at the end of 2006 to honour the memory of their parents Paola and Luigi.
There are seventeen paintings and three wooden polychromes (14th and 15th century) in the collection, which cover a time span going from the 14th century to the beginning of the 16th century. The paintings, many of which are small, had been made for private altars, are very valuable and were attributed to Jacopo del Casentino, Andrea Bonaiuti, Simone de’ Crocifissi, Giovanni da Milano and others. Two pediments for nuptial chests dating back to the half of the 15th century complete the collection.

tonfo botticelli












Madonna adoring Jesus with San Giovannino - Alessandro Filipepi, known  as Botticelli  1475-80 approx. - Origin: Castello Landi of Bardi

The painting comes from Castello Landi of Bardi, mentioned in a document of the family in 1642; in 1860 the castle changed owners and became Royal State property of the Reign of Italy, which finally gave it to the Municipality of Piacenza.
The Virgin, kneeling, is adoring Jesus, who is laying on his mother’s mantle, on  a cushion made of roses; San Giovannino is on the left. Two rose bushes open onto a view resembling those painted by Leonardo.
A fake wooden frame, gilded, bears the following inscription : “QUIA RESPESIT HUMILITATE ANCILE SUE”, taken from Magnificat, from Luke’s Gospel (1, 46-55).
The subject is painted according to a 14th century apocryphal work by Giovanni De Cauli da San Gimignano, which tells about San Giovannino adoring baby Jesus . This iconography became popular when the tondo was painted, thanks to Botticelli’s Master, Filippo Lippi, who used it for the first time around the 50ies of the 15th century .
Jesus’ gesture recalls circumcision.
The author was never questioned, even for the stylistic affinity with other works by Botticelli, such as ‘Madonna del Magnificat’ in the Uffizi (1481-83) and ‘Madonna del libro’ from Museo Poldi Pezzoli (1483-85); however, there are some doubts about San Giovannino , that was probably painted by some artist from the workshop.
The beautifully engraved gilded frame is original; it bears signs of polychrome leading to think that the leaves in the central part had been originally painted with green lacquer. The leaves, ears of wheat, flowers and ribbons allegorically refer to fecundity, livelihood and salvation, confirming the message of the painting.













Prophet Isaiah and King David - Camillo Beccaccino 1530

On the two organ sides from the Church of Santa Maria di Campagna in Piacenza, a majestic architecture is the background to the prophets Isaiah, on the left, and David, on the right. The two protagonists lean symmetrically on the tall pedestals of the ionic pillars, engraved with Latin epigraphs, foretelling the advent of the Saviour. Isaiah holds  a cartouche in his hand, symbolising his book. David, wearing rich headgear recalling his royal origin, has his foot on Goliath, who’s holding a viola, implying his passion for music.

















Purification - Carlo Francesco Nuvolone  1645

Altarpiece commissioned by the Merchants Guild of Piacenza for the church of San Vincenzo. It depicts with refined soft tones  the double episode told by the evangelist Luke: the Virgin, 40 days after childbirth, obeying the Jewish law, is going to the Temple of Jerusalem to be purified and to redeem little Jesus by sacrificing a lamb (for the Jews newborn children belonged to God and not to their parents).







Joshua halting the sun - Ilario Spolverini  1721-27

Commissioned, like the previous one, by Dorotea Sofia of Newburg, it describes one of the decisive battles of the people of Israel in its journey to the promised land:Joshua is asking God to halt the sun and the moon to finally annihilate his enemies, the Amorites. The scene is spectacular: a battle is taking place in a vast plain surrounded by the mountains. The sun dominates in the centre (while behind the mountains, on the right, the halo of the moon is visible). On the left and on the right the chase of the two kings contributes to arrange the troops in a centrifugal vortex. The pictorial effect is extraordinary and highlights the fights and the figures.
















Ulysses avoids Circe’s charm with the help of Mercure - Gaetano Gandolfi  1766

This painting describes one of the most famous episodes from the Odyssey. In the foreground Ulysses’ companions, after drinking from a poisoned pitcher, are turning into pigs, while the god Mercure, wearing his winged helmet and carrying a caduceus, frees Ulysses from Circe’s stare.  The snake-like lines of the composition and the delicate colours are typical of the rococo style.



Portrait of count Giacomo Rota with his dog - Gaspare Landi 1798

The buttons of the jacket, as golden as the dog’s collar, imply the high social status of the man. A classical symbol of faithfulness, the dog looks at his master with love. This is a trick which has always been used to make the portrait more real, as if the animal could recognise his master even in a painting.