At the end of the 16th century, Genoa was a rich city – its port opened into the heart of Mediterranean Europe, its merchants traded throughout the world and its bankers were owed by the rulers of Europe. This wealth attracted the great artists of the continent, bring to Genoa the Flemish, Tuscan, Lombard and other styles, and creating the first truly ‘European’ artistic culture. It was from this culture that emerged the greatest Genovese painter: Bernardo Strozzi.
Despite his tormented and isolated soul, Strozzi absorbed the styles, influences and lessons of the masters whose works could be admired in Genoa, including Rubens and Caravaggio. Inspired by these influences, Strozzi created distinctive works which combined the lessons of the masters with his own talents and unique use of colours, as well as betraying much of his inner turmoil as he battled with the church, jealous rivals, financial woes and personal loss.
In this fascinating programme we discover the great city of Genoa and the powerful influences which shaped not only the work of Strozzi, but the direction of art. We examine the remarkable life of the master, including his days in a Franciscan convent, as a farmer, a port engineer and, finally, a man fleeing his home for the romance, and secular safety, of Venice.
His most spectacular works are captured in breathtaking footage, with lingering close-ups allowing us an unrivalled view of the detail and devotion as we assess and explore the most famous masterpieces. Alongside the great works of Strozzi, we examine the masterpieces which influenced his hand and tour the magnificent city of Genoa, which gave us this Great Master.
A master in the century of the Genoese
In the artistic training of Van Dyck, perhaps the greatest portraitist of European art history, the lesson of Italian painting is seen several times. Born in the last years of the 16th century in Antwerp, the overwhelming influences of Italy and an outstanding ability for portrait painting dominated the life of the Great Master.
In his early years in Antwerp, Van Dyck and his first major works were heavily influenced by Rubens. Keen to expand his style, Van Dyck travelled to Italy. Although he settled in Genoa, his search for inspiration took him around the country, through Rome, Florence, Turin, Milan, Venice and many other major centres of art. Along the way he kept detailed notes, allowing the influences he encountered – the great works, the great names, the architecture, the politics and the history – to continue to make an impact on his painting for many years.
In 1632 he moved to London and the court of Charles I. Here he would produce some of his most famous portraits, as well as seeing out his remaining years.
In this fascinating programme we study Van Dyck’s life, influences, inspirations and travels to help understand his greatest masterpieces. We see how, whatever his subject, Van Dyck represented the reality of the world; not metaphysical, but psychological; not religious, but human.
We are treated to stunning footage of his most famous masterpieces, with exquisite close-up camerawork and expert re-assessment throwing new light on the famous paintings, and examining the unquestionable level of intelligence and informed research which coloured each work.