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The Abduction of Proserpine


Valerio Castello (Genoa 1624-1659)
The Abduction of Proserpine
oil on canvas,1657-59
The Audience Chamber

In accordance with an iconographic tradition that goes back at least as far as Bernini’s celebrated sculpture of 1621–22 in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, the artist focuses here on the initial episode of the long and complex ancient myth, namely the maiden’s abduction before the eyes of her terrified companions. This is depicted in a broad, polyphonic composition that remains one of the undisputed masterpieces of Genoese Baroque art. The canvas was painted in the most mature period of Valerio Castello, shortly before his death at just 34 years of age, and became a model rich in stimuli and ideas for the masters of the following generations. Purchased by Charles Felix of Sardinia in 1821 and placed in the palace on Via Balbi, the work was moved to Rome in 1929 to furnish a room in Palazzo Madama, the seat of the Senate. It was not until 1992 and as the result of a formal request that the work was returned definitively to the Museo di Palazzo Reale.

  • Valerio Castello
  • 1657-1659
  • olio su tela
  • Sala delle Udienze