FANTASTICAL ANIMALS AT THE CASTELLO DEL BUONCONSIGLIO OF TRENTO
Exhibition at Buonconsiglio Castle - Trento
Opening hours: until 5th November 10.00-18.00;
From 6th January 9.30-17.00.
From 10th August to 6th January 2014 Closed on Mondays
While walking through the magnificent rooms and carefully observing the frescoes and paintings that decorate the walls of the Castello del Buonconsiglio of Trento, Castel Thun, or Castello di Stenico one discovers a fantastic world of unicorns, seven-headed dragons, centaurs, griffons, basilisks, sphinxes, serpents, and fantastical and odd animals that constantly appear in mythology and in the manorial iconography. Quite striking are the numerous animals represented in the frescoes by Dosso Dossi that decorate the Castello del Buonconsiglio, or those in the decoration on the Stua della Famea depicting the fables of Phaedrus. There is also the lady and the unicorn, the monkey, and the snake biting Envy painted by Girolamo Romanino, or still the bestiary by the master Venceslao in the renowned Cycle of the Months in the Torre Aquila. The theme of fantastical animals will be protagonist in the summer exhibition “Sangue di Drago, Squame di Serpente: animali fantastici al Castello del Buonconsiglio” that opens on August 9, 2013 at the Castello del Buonconsiglio. It will be a curious exhibition through art history from antiquity to the 19th century aimed at acknowledging and appreciating the heritage of the provincial castles. The exhibit will also include numerous loans from international museums. Sculpture, paintings, architecture, and drawings tell the story of the animal world, fruit of man’s fantasies and fears. The exhibition, organized in collaboration with the Swiss National Museum of Zurich, will be the occasion to admire sphinxes and centaurs either painted on vases in red or black Hellenic figures or on canvases of the 17th century-masters from Bologna; an Egyptian mummified cat, a small bronze Renaissance fountain depicting the myth of Actaeon, a rhyton in the shape of an eagle’s beak, the Laocoön from the Bargello Museum of Florence, an invaluable bronze hawk, a very rare decorated chasuble (liturgical vestment), and sculptures of Saint George and the Dragon. There are those traditional sacred Christian animals and those from mythology with Diana the Huntress and the animals held dear by the gods: the swan, the bull and the eagle for Zeus, the lion for Sampson and Hercules. Even the true monsters of legends: dragons, Chimeras, unicorns, sphinxes, sea monsters, centaurs, and mermaids. As enemy, prey, food, work force and means of transportation, the animal is also interpreter of the primal force of nature and of the imaginary in the heroic and magical-religious sphere. The eternal question of man’s inherent savagery and the anthropomorphism recognized in the animal world are seen throughout the exhibited works. The itinerary is dedicated to certain animals that through time, and also trans-culturally, have assumed complex symbolic significance, and to those fantastical animals of myths, legends, and beliefs shared by or specific to diverse peoples and civilisations. The eagle, lion, serpent, stag, horse and fish are some of the animals that through hybridization, that varies depending on time and place, gave origin to beings that were interpretations of man’s thoughts, hopes, fears, and imagination. One can admire the canvases depicting the cycle of Hercules with the famous multi-headed and serpentine-winged dragon masterly painted by Paolo de Matteis. Dragons were born from the union between the multi-headed Typhon and the female serpent Echidna. Their offspring were Chimera, with the head of a lion and a body that was part goat, part snake; Cerberus, the three-headed dog; and the Lernaean Hydra, a multi-headed reptile which was later killed by Hercules who also defeated the one hundred-headed Ladon and Scylla with her octopus-like tentacles. The magnificent painting conserved at Castel Thun painted in the late 17th century by the German artist Dietterlin depicts the Temptations of Abbot Saint Anthony with fire-breathing dragons, a winged monster brandishing a skewered chicken and serpent, and snakes spilling from the hair of a naked lady. The exhibition will be enhanced with many multimedia emplacements and films.