Naples and Madrid sent some of their most prestigious works around the world and the reasons for these departures are varied

Jun 20, 2023


With the beautiful season just around the corner, who doesn’t want to take a nice trip? Even paintings are granted this possibility!

Capodimonte’s masterpieces at the Louvre (Naples to Paris: the Louvre invites the Museo di Capodimonte, Paris, Louvre, 7 June 2023-8 January 2024) represent a first timer for the French museum that has never dedicated an exhibition to its equals. The commonality between these two cities and these two museums is found in their history and in cultural diplomacy. Naples and Paris have part of their history closely intertwined and in both cases the collections from the royal families are kept in the respective royal palaces which were later turned into museums.

Before screaming at the scandal for such a massive number of paintings withdrawn from the permanent exhibition itinerary, it must be said that the Capodimonte palace is undergoing restoration, so these works would have been removed from the museum itinerary in any case. Among the works sent, 33 are the paintings for which a restoration campaign has been planned, for some of these new frames will be purchased. The costs are borne not only by the state but also by private patrons.

In the months in which the works will stay in Paris, the cultural program will pay homage to the Naples-Paris union also in other fields of art such as theater and cinema.

The Spanish Thyssen Bornemisza museum also makes many of its masterpieces travel for the exhibition The Greats of Six Centuries: Masterpieces from the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza 22 June 2023- 11 December 2023, and sends them well further afield. In fact, they will land in the East, in Shanghai. Also in this case it is a “first timer”.

This event pays homage to 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The works will all land in the new Museum of Art Pudong, opened during the pandemic. So an exhibition that takes on a further symbolic value.

And so at this point we would have to say…

Do these trips “damage” the works? Are they needed?

Well, there have always been loans for exhibitions. Doing so, allowed many to appreciate works that normally reside in distant and often unreachable places, even if only for a mere economic factor.

Surely one wonders what safety measures are taken to be able to monitor the state of conservation of the work, and evaluate it especially upon return with targeted scientific analyses.

These two “organized trips” highlight how scientific analyzes of cultural heritage can be fundamental in the conservation life of a work of art.

Acquiring data before and after, then analyzing the works with the same instrumentation and scientific parameters should be part of a mandatory protocol during loans. In this way, the journey of a work may not be the target of controversy and…perhaps bearers of a dose of selfishness that would like immovable works.

Art-Test offers to address this issue the passport for works of art.

Culture, art in the first instance, have always been the result of the possibility of travelling, of exchanges, of sharing, of comparisons. This privilege can also be extended to those who, observing in the same room two works never placed next to each other, perhaps by the same author or one of his contemporaries, can thus, for example, understand their link. In this way, everyone can be allowed to “travel” with their own mind and find a common moment in history and know that they are part of that history.

Emanuela Massa
Emanuela Massa