“Minimalismo della terribilità”. The drawings by Pordenone in the Ambrosiana: EXHIBITION EXTENDED UNTIL NOVEMBER 6

Curated by Edoardo Villata

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

March 22 – November 6 2016, Displaycases of rooms 2 and 3

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Mondays / Special opening-closures: closed on Easter Day, open on Easter Monday.

Exhibition included in the admission ticket of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.


After the historical exhibitions in Udine in 1939 and in 1983 at Villa Manin in Passariano, the work of Giovanni Antonio de Sacchis, also named Pordenone, still has to be discovered completely, although Vasari numbered him among the great masters as early as 1541. Curated by Edoardo Villata, the exhibition investigates the origin and features of the artist’s graphic corpus owned by the Ambrosiana, consisting of twenty drawings, the majority belonging to the category of “first thoughts”, i.e. fast sketches for fixing an idea or a pose.

Giovanni Antonio de Sacchis, also known as Pordenone (Pordenone around 1483/84 – Ferrara 1539) is one of the greatest painters of the High Renaissance in northern Italy, although being less renowned among the greater public than other artists of equal value such as, for example, Lorenzo Lotto, Gerolamo Romanino or Amico Aspertini.

After a local education (attested by the early works, including the fresco dated 1506 in the parish of Valeriano, his first dated work), Pordenone broadens his horizons in Venice and in the Venetian domains, between Treviso and Brescia. His early style is imbued with a fascinating balance between Giorgionesque delicacies and humoral emphasis very close to Romanino’s style, noticeable in paintings such as the Madonna of Mercy of the Pordenone Cathedral (1515) or the Transfiguration of the Pinacoteca di Brera. However, the painter soon goes beyond this phase during a stay in Central Italy, where he can study the Roman works of Raphael and Michelangelo. The results are sensational and are visible in the Malchiostro chapel of the Cathedral of Treviso (1520) and even more in the famous frescoes of the Duomo of Cremona (1520-21), of irrepressible expressive violence. This phase is further enhanced thanks to the knowledge of Correggio’s works in Parma, with their unprecedented colour delicacies (clear in the frescoes of Cortemaggiore, about 1524-25). Then follows a gradual Manneristic evolution of his style, appreciable in the frescoes of the Madonna di Campagna in Piacenza and in the Venetian altarpieces of the 1530s.

Pordenone is also a great and prolific draughtsman. On this occasion, the artist’s graphic corpus owned by the Ambrosiana will be on display, consisting of a selection of drawings that let us enter into the studio of a great painter of the Italian Cinquecento.