The Volterra Picture Gallery, D’Annunzio and Rosso Fiorentino
The Volterra Picture Gallery opened in the Tuscan city’s Palazzo dei Priori in 1905, and moved in its current location inside Palazzo Minucci-Solaini in 1982. It is home to many masterpieces, including an oil on panel painted in 1521 by Rosso Fiorentino (1495-1540): the “Deposition”.
Pescara-born author Gabriele D’Annunzio visited the museum in 1909, and gave a wonderful description of this particular piece in his famous 1910 novel “Perhaps Yes, Perhaps No”, stating the men on the staircase seemed “captured, as by the violence of a fatal wind”.
“Strength stirred in their muscles like anguish. All the weight of the world was in the body they were taking down from the cross. Joseph of Arimathea had bought the shroud in vain; Nicodemus had brought the mixture of myrrh and aloe in vain. The wind of Resurrection already blew around the sublime wood. But all the darkness was at the bottom, all the sepulchral shadow was on a single body, above the darkened Mother, above the womb that had borne such fruit of pain. ‘The light has disappeared’ she said in the old lament…”
The Picture Gallery was conceived in the early 20th century by the great art historian and superintendent Corrado Ricci, who wished to gather here “only paintings that are not on altars or other places they were meant for anymore: exiled pieces that have left closed or unsafe churches, which soon after collapsed; pieces that however it was worth and will always be worth keeping, like orphans with no parents or, perhaps more fittingly, like elders with no shelter…”