Capolavori a confronto (“Masterpieces side-by-side”)

from  15 May 2021  to  19 Sep 2021

Uomini illustri (‘Illustrious Men’) in an immersive journey between Como and the Uffizi


UOMINI_ILLUSTRI_immagineCapolavori a confronto (“Masterpieces side-by-side”)
Uomini illustri (‘Illustrious Men’) in an immersive journey between Como and the Uffizi
Como, Pinacoteca civica (Art Gallery)
15th May – 19th September 2021

For the first time in Como, two portraits from the “Collezione Gioviana” (Giovio Collection) of the Uffizi will be exhibited side-by-side two original portraits from the “Museum di Paolo Giovio” (Paolo Giovio Museum) in the Pinacoteca of Como (Como Art Gallery).
The portraits of the Uffizi are the sixteenth century portraits of Paolo Giovio and Leonardo da Vinci, works by Cristofano dell’Altissimo, which are exhibited next to portraits of the Pinacoteca, depicting Baldassarre Castiglione, painted by Bernardino Campi, and Niccolò Leoniceno, painted by Dosso Dossi.  
The exhibition of the portraits, staged in the “Campo quadro” space on the principal floor of the Pinacoteca, is accompanied by an immersive multimedia installation, created by Olo Creative Farm, that will illustrate the history of the two collections from Como and Florence, and that of the depicted figures, symbol of the Italian Renaissance.

The collection of portraits by Paolo Giovio, which was housed in the no longer existent Museo that was on the Borgo Vico street in Como, amounted up to 400 illustrated figures of the past and the present. The portraits, after Giovio’s death in Florence in 1552, were copied by artists sent to Como by important buyers and for the printed edition of Elogia. Thorughout the years 1552 – 1589, Cristofano dell’Altissimo painted the most substantial series of portrait copies for Cosimo I Medici, the last great protector of Giovio. This series is now displayed on the top floor of the Uffizi.

This Comascan exhibition project is a close collaboration between Bruno Fasola, History of Art professor and expert on Paolo Giovio and his collection, Gianfranco Adornato, Archeology and History of Greek and Roman Art professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, and Alberica Barbolani da Montauto, art historian and museum assistant in the management department of the Uffizi Galleries.
The exhibition is the first in a series of projects aimed towards appreciation of the Comascan “Uomini Illustri” (Illustrious Men) collection by Paolo Giovio, of which the Pinacoteca houses 40 portraits. Specifically for the exhibition organised in collaboration with the Uffizi, the Pinacoteca is honoured to announce that resources from Art Bonus, a public fund launched by MIC (Ministry of Culture) on a designated government website in support of cultural heritage, will be directed toward the restoration of two Giovio portraits conserved in the collections storage of the Pinacoteca. This is a concrete and immediate way to support our museum and directly participate in a collective project of memory conservation and heritage appreciation. Through Art Bonus, it is our hope to be able to secure another two portraits of the Giovio collection, which are just as important as those on exhibition – the portrait of Pope Paolo II and the portrait of Paolo Giovio stored in Como – and bring them back to their former glory.

The exhibition “Capolavori a confronto. Uomini illustri in un viaggio immersivo tra Como e gli Uffizi” (Masterpieces side-by-side. Illustrious Men in an immersive journey between Como and the Uffizi) is, moreover, the first in a series of important scientific and cultural initiatives organised by the Fondazione Volta (Volta Foundation) and the Accademia Pliniana, in collaboration with Professor Gianfranco Adornato, in celebration of the two thousandth anniversary of Pliny the Elder’s birth.



P584 Bernardino Campi - Ritratto di Baldassarre Castiglione_Pinacoteca Civica di Como

Bernardino Campi
Portrait of Baldassar Castiglione
Dated between 1540 and 1552, Oil on canvas - Como, Pinacoteca civica
Humanist and diplomat in the service of various Italian courts, including the Papal court and the Urbino court, to which his most important literary work, Il Cortegiano, is linked, Baldassar Castiglione (Casatico, 6th December 1478 – Toledo, 8th February 1529) definitely knew Paolo Giovio personally at the Papal court of Clement VII in the time of the sack of Rome and shared the same culture and official positions with him. According to the interpretation of Pier Luigi De Vecchi, the painting on display, documented by Giovio’s heirs, was made by Bernardino Campi from a Raphaelesque prototype, lost and known only in the form of a copy, and which would have been completed around the middle of the 16th century.


Cristofano di Papi dell’Altissimo – Paolo Giovio, 1552 – 1568, Olio su tavola, Inv. 1890 n. 226, Uffizi, Corridoio di Levante

Cristofano di Papi dell’Altissimo
Portrait of Paolo Giovio
1552 - 1568, Oil on wood - Florence, Uffizi
The portrait of Giovio (Como 1483 or 1486 – Florence 1552) could not be left out from the collection of Cosimo I, given the Como historian’s decades-long relationship with the Medici, which began in Rome with the future Pope Clement VII, and ended with his stay with Cosimo in the last years of his life and the first publication of the Historiae in Florence. It is likely that the elderly scholar was involved in the iconographic programme of the duke’s new residence in Palazzo Vecchio, where the copies of the portraits of the Uomini Illustri (Illustrious men) were first placed. The qualitative work of Cristofano, conforming to the portraits preserved in Como – perhaps inspired by a work of Vasari’s that has since been lost – however, cuts off at the lower part: the Florentine series, indeed, follows a principle of uniformity with portraits of equal size and a half-length cut.


Where: Pinacoteca civica, via Diaz 84 - Como

Entrance is free of charge. Visiting the exhibition, multimedia installation included, takes around 10 minutes.
An admission ticket will be required to visit the rest of the Pinacoteca.


From Tuesdays until Sundays, from 10 AM until 6 PM (final admission at 5:30 PM)


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