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Alessandro Turchi (Verona 1578-Rome 1649)

Poetry 1606

Oil on canvas | 131.2 x 59.8 (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 403950

King's Bed Chamber, Windsor Castle

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  • This painting depicting Poetry formed one side of an organ shutter originally painted for the organ in the newly built music hall at the Accademia Filarmonica in Verona. When the shutters were opened, Music appeared on the left with Poetry on the right. The figure was inspired by Cesare Ripa's Iconologia and the artist probably consulted the 1603 edition which has some woodcut illustrations. Identifiable primarily by their costume and the attributes they hold. Crowned with a laurel wreath, Poetry is dressed in blue to show that poetry is a heavenly art; her head is winged, to convey her 'flights of Fancy'; she holds a book in one hand and, in the other, a laurel branch, sharpened like a quill pen. Ripa includes the laurel crown, wings on head, book in left hand and 'sceptre' of laurel, but there is no woodcut illustration.

    Turchi was first introduced to the elite circle of Veronese intellectuals of the Accademia Filarmonica by his teacher Brusasorzi. Indeed, it was the Accademia that awarded him the commission for the four paintings to decorate their organ. The Accademia Filarmonica had been founded in Verona in 1543 to encourage the creation and study of music. By the beginning of the seicento it had become one of the most famous music schools in Italy, including among its members some of the most distinguished individuals from the noble families of Verona. Yet it also attracted professional musicians, both local and foreign, who taught music and organised concerts for its members. A particularly fertile cultural institution, it also supported a wide variety of humanist pursuits beyond music, including philosophy, literature, archaeology and painting. Many of its members, such as Mario Bevilacqua and Federico Ceruti, were knowledgeable art collectors under whose guidance commissions were awarded to artists, with the result that a notable art collection was established.

    Catalogue entry adapted from The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection: Renaissance and Baroque, London, 2007

    Acquired in 1762 by George III from Joseph Smith, British Consul in Venice (Italian List no 237) as part of a set of four with an attribution to Turchi, all are recorded in the Great Room of the Library at Buckingham Palace in 1790

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas


    131.2 x 59.8 (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    151.4 x 79.6 x 6.1 cm (frame, external)

  • Category
    Object type(s)
  • Alternative title(s)

    'History', suggested by Michael Levey