Vittorio Petrella da Bologna (1886 - 1951)
Red Rose Venice, 1923
Oil on paper applied to glass
30 × 40 cm. (11 ⅔ × 15 ¾ in.)
Laocoon Gallery combines the experience of renowned Roman galleries W. Apolloni and Galleria del Laocoonte, offering visitors a chance to view not only some of the best examples of Old Master paintings, drawings and sculptures, but also works by prominent 20th century Italian artists.
Founded in 1926, W. Apolloni has been in business for three generations and is now directed by Marco Fabio Apolloni, a writer, journalist and art historian trained at the Courtauld Institute in London. During its successful history the gallery has sold many masterpieces to museums in Italy and abroad. In 2012, he and wife Monica Cardarelli founded Galleria del Laocoonte, presenting works by 20th century Italian artists via exhibitions at their gallery in Rome, fairs across Europe and even in museums.
The Commedia dell’Arte – Italian masks in XXth Century art
When she is not wearing a facemask covering her mouth to indicate that she is mute, the personification of painting, as portrayed by ancient painters, is a woman displaying in most cases a full face mask hanging from her neck. It is a symbol of the imitation of nature: art imitates reality, like an actor disguised to play a part. We want to remind this connection between the mask and painting for this exhibition by Laocoon Gallery celebrating, with the title of "The Commedia dell'Arte", Italian masks in XXth Century art.
At the centre of this thematic collection is an impressive series of drawings by the visionary Italian artist Alberto Martini (1876-1954), a precursor of surrealism. His series "Il Libro delle Ombre" (The Book of Shadows), begun in 1904, consists of 29 drawings in brush and black china ink portraying masked faces in all possible kinds of disguise. With the figurative remembrance of Tiepolo in mind, we find ourselves in Venice, the ideal capital of masks, with her ancient old carnival where actors on the stage wore masks as well as the people in the audience. A large painting by Ugo Rossi (1906-1990), almost four metres wide, portrays Venice's piazza San Marco crowded with people in all kinds of colourful carnival costumes. It used to hang in the bar in one of the luxurious transatlantic ships that were the monuments of post war enthusiastic optimism, a way to represent Italy as a country of perpetual enjoyment after the horror and destruction of the past conflict.