Vis-à-vis. Tenerani Spina. Dialogo in immagini

28/06/2023 - 07/01/2024
Museo di Roma

The exhibition presents twenty-five plaster portraits by Pietro Tenerani, one of the most important Italian sculptors of the 19th century, revisited by Luigi Spina, a great interpreter of contemporary art photography.

Two artists separated by time, but united by their research on the human figure, in a dialogue that allows us to admire Tenerani's sculptures in a new way, many of which have never been exhibited before, of which Spina's evocative photographs - a diptych for each portrait - made on black and white film and personally printed, highlight details that sometimes escape even the most attentive observers.

An exhibition between sculpture and photography that not only offers a significant opportunity to promote one of the most important sections of the Musei di Roma, the Tenerani plaster collection, but also to enjoy the photographic survey by Luigi Spina, carried out with portraits of nobles, intellectuals, artists and religious figures, all at the centre of Roman society in the mid 19th century, of which Tenerani was a leading exponent.

This insight will be brought back a new life, through the photographic research of Spina, the author of many studies that always have the same common thread, namely the pursuit of beauty and perfection, in all fields but especially in sculpture, as his recent works testify, which will be on display from 29 June at the Museo di Archeologia della Catalogna in the exhibition Els Bronzes de Riace. La mirada artística de Luigi Spina.

One of the most significant collections in the Museo di Roma is the Tenerani plaster collection, originally located in the gallery designed by Carlo, the sculptor's only son, in Via Nazionale.
The collection includes models, drafts and studies, testifying the whole artistic production of the sculptor, and must be counted among the greatest examples of plaster cast collections of the 19th century together with those of Canova in Possagno and Thorvaldsen in Copenhagen.

In order to further develop the gipsoteca, a selection of whose exhibits is already present in the museum's itinerary, the Vis-à-vis exhibition was created, showing twenty-five plaster portraits by Tenerani compared with the images - a diptych for each portrait - that Luigi Spina, a great interpreter of contemporary art photography, has created from them.

A sculptor who died in 1869 and a photographer who was born almost a century later, in 1966, are the two artists who are the main characters of this exhibition, with different mediums of expression and distant in time, united by their research on the human figure: a dialogue between a sculptor who is able to capture the finest details of a face in plaster and a photographer who is able, through light, to bring out those details.

For a particular reason, among the about one hundred and fifty portraits by Tenerani in the collections of the Museo di Roma, the exhibition does not show those of the most illustrious personalities such as kings, emperors or popes, but instead prefers to present a series of portraits that tell the story of the articulate Roman society of the mid-nineteenth century.
They are members of the town's noble families, commissioned by foreign patrons, men and women, in classical, modern or bare-chested clothing, in busts or in herma form. With many of them Tenerani was on friendly terms; for others, simply being portrayed by him in a portrait represented the achievement of a high social status. Of many of those portrayed, personal stories are narrated in the exhibition, often through period accounts.

With the Tenerani characters, Luigi Spina was able also to establish a direct relationship, in a dialogue through images where light becomes a source of expression and at the same time a tool for getting to know the works, as details of the sculptures that would otherwise be difficult to see are captured in the photographs.
Produced on black-and-white film and hand-printed by expert photographers, using a refined range of greys, Spina's photos are characterised by a strong three-dimensional impact, underlining the emotional component of each character.

In the first floor rooms in Palazzo Braschi, Tenerani's portraits are placed in front of Luigi Spina's images, in a journey where they are divided by subject.

At the opening of the exhibition, following a self-portrait by the master from Carrara, three busts made in 1850 reflected the cultural and artistic community in that particular historical moment; these are followed by a series of portraits of members from the Roman and international aristocracy, and then three busts destined for funerary monuments create an ideal Spoon River depicted by Tenerani.

Following the busts of statesmen Charles Wentworth, from Australia, and José Gutierrez de Estrada, from Mexico, examples of the commissions that also came to the sculptor from cultural spheres far from Europe, a group of protagonists of the Italian and international cultural salons of the mid 19th century is presented, from Zenaide Wolkonsky to Carlotta Lenzoni and Leonilla Bariatinsky, the only one of the personalities in the exhibition to have known the 20th century.
At the end of the journey, a group of portraits made over almost half a century of activity, to allow visitors to grasp the different souls of the Tuscan master, that Luigi Spina, with the sensibility that has characterised his artistic production for over twenty years, has managed to bring to light.


Museo di Roma
Opening hours

28 June 2023 to 7 January 2024
Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 19.00
Last admission one hour before closing

Before planning the visit, CONSULT THE NOTICES

Entrance ticket

Admission ticket according to > current pricing
Free for MIC card holders


060608 every day from 9.00 to 19.00

Promoters Roma Capitale, Assessorato alla Cultura, Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali
Curated by Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali, Fabio Benedettucci
Scientific project Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali, Luigi Spina
Organisation Zètema Progetto Cultura

Musei in Musica 2023
Musei in Comune

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particolare Edwige Carnevali Righetti. Pietro Tenerani, 1831. Museo di Roma ©luigispina
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particolare Edwige Carnevali Righetti. Pietro Tenerani, 1831. Museo di Roma ©luigispina
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particolare Edwige Carnevali Righetti. Pietro Tenerani, 1831. Museo di Roma ©luigispina
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