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Palazzo della Ragione, Verona has been renovated as the venue for the Achille Forti Gallery of Modern Art and its Civic Collections. As a result of the new availability of the whole complex of buildings to the public, together with the access point in Via della Costa, which unites the Piazza delle Erbe with the elegant Piazza dei Signori, it is now possible to use a second entrance by walking up the monumental Scala della Ragione stairway and going along a glass-walled passage to the reception hall where it abuts the Torre dei Lamberti, the main visual landmark of both the Palazzo and the city centre.
Apart from this new layout and greater access, the whole group of buildings, which includes the Palazzo, the Collections, and the Lamberti Tower, can be visited with a single ticket – a very attractive offering at the heart of tourism in the city of Verona.
The new artistic director, Luca Massimo Barbero, has planned an innovative exhibition arrangement which places paintings and sculptures in the four large rooms of the first floor of the Palazzo; this arrangement recounts the history of Veronese collections and their relationship with the city.
In the four rooms - Sala delle Colonne, Sala quadrata, Sala Picta o della Giustizia, and Sala d’Oriente - that constitute the new exhibition itinerary, are arranged a first selection of some 150 works from the three Collections. The exhibition itinerary, coherently following the original idea behind the Forti donation, is arranged chronologically from 1840 to 1940: overall, the works selected showVerona, its cultural and landscape heritage, and the Collections of the city’s institutions.
With the opening of the Achille Forti Gallery of Modern Art, areas and rooms in Palazzo della Ragione that were previously impossible to visit, including the Cappella dei Notai, a treasure house of Veronese art with a series of decorations created between the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th – act as a counter-attraction to the exhibition. In this way there will be a new visiting experience which, for the first time, will link the city of Verona and its history to its artistic, architectural, and landscape heritage, all tied to the singular experience of seeing the city from the top of the Torre dei Lamberti.
The ‘narrative’ begins right from the start in the reception hall, the Sala della Torre, where visitors are greeted by two important sculptures, Achille ferito (1833–5) by Innocenzo Fraccaroli, and l’Orgia (1851–4) by Torquato della Torre. In the same room the visitor can also see the curious way the Torre dei Lamberti was added to the building.
The Sala delle Colonne allows the visitor to enter the heart of the exhibition planned for the reopening of the gallery: in fact, the bronze Danteby Ugo Zannoni (1850-1899) immediately alludes to the square outside the building, to Piazza dei Signori, in the centre of which can be seen the marble version of the work. This play of references then continues in the works by Vittorio Avanzi, Scala del Cortile del Mercato Vecchio (1875-1899), by Giuseppe Ferrari, Veduta del Cortile del Mercato Vecchio a Verona (1865), and by Ferrarin, Piazza Erbe (1839), all of which, together with the images of the well-known 19th-century Moritz Lotze photographic studio, show the evolution of the Palazzo and its architecture, as well as the changes in the neighbouring areas.
The choice of works, however, is not limited simply to landscape painting and the image of the city, but also narrates historical events. The main attraction of this first room is, in fact, Meditazione(1851) by Francesco Hayez, a beautiful painting which, like many of the works shown here, is permanently associated with the unification of Italy. Before unification, Verona was still under Austrian domination. Together with Pia dei Tolomei condotta in Maremma (1853) by Pompeo Marino Molmenti, the painting by Hayez is a part of the original nucleus of the Achille Forti Collection as well as being recognized as an emblem of the gallery.