Time travel with Ippolito Caffi at The Sinebrychoff Art Museum

Italian Version: coming soon
I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to the curator Claudia de Brün for the excellent guide through the artworks during my visit. 

Article by Gloria De Felice

Have you ever wished to be a time traveller? Have you ever wondered how some cities look looked like in the mid-1800s? How did people behave at the time?
It is necessary to state that during that period not many painters used the technique of realism since it was losing importance because of the progressing progress of the first impressive photographic techniques.
However, the painter Ippolito Caffi, born in Belluno, Venetian by adoption, decided to capture some important events through the veduta technique, along an impeccable perfection of the use of perspective, a surreal portrayal of lights which give gives everyone the feeling to immerse in the past at the only encountering with his paintings. He has succeeded in eternalizing the magnificent moments that happened both in Italy and in some other cities such as Istanbul, Athens, Cairo.
The Sinebrychoff Art Museum in Helsinki is hosting, until May 27, some of his works, from the collection of  Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia .
When you enter the exhibition, the first room is dedicated to his perspective of the Venice between the 40s and 50s of the 18th century. Through paintings, Caffi reproduced some famous celebrations and episodes of the city, like the “Regatta Storica”, the festive and colourful magical days of the popular Carnival, the white snow landing on the beautiful roofs of the houses floating on the green and shiny laguna.
Venice, Snow and Fog / c.1842 / oil on cardboard mounted on canvas / Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia
In his artworks, he used often tights of red, green and white. These colours symbolize the Italian flag. At that time, they were struggling for the unification of Italy, which took place in 1861. Caffi was a great supporter and through his art, he wanted to demonstrate it.
The other exhibition rooms show paintings made in Rome and other Italian cities, like the famous seaside towns of Naples and Genoa.
In Rome, he displayed another aspect of his pictorial method. In his landscape paintings, he immortalizes the irrepressible difference between ancient and new. The ruins of the Roman Empire stand in contrast with the new buildings of the majestic Italian city.
Caffi, who always kept in his pocket his sketchbook, immortalized meaningful historical moments in his paintings. Through the veduta painting method.
The most famous and decisive paintings exhibited represent remarkable events of the history of Italy: for instance, the meeting between Giuseppe Garibaldi and Vittorio Emanuele, who will become King of Italy in1861.
The painting, from 1860, is entitled “The arrival of Vittorio Emanuele in Naples”. On that day, October 26, 1860, the “Expedition of the Thousand” ended.
Also, in Sinebrychoff you can find  “Flight in a hot-air balloon” picture, which is different from the others.
Rome, Flight in a hot-air balloon / 1847 / Oil on card mounted on Canvas / Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia
Ippolito who was a great visitor of Café Greco in Rome. There, he met Francesco Arban, an aeronautical expert from Lyon. In 1847, Arban carried the painter Giacomo Caneva, a friend and rival of Caffi, on his hot- air balloon.
 Ippolito, jealous of this privilege of his friend, proposed to Arban to organize another tour for him in exchange of a live painting of the experience. He did three versions. The museum offers the privilege to see one of them.
The painter wrote his memorable experience in a letter to his friend Antonio Tessari, expressing his emotions of that day thoroughly.
Ippolito Caffi did not travel only around Italy but also through the Middle East and Greece. The exhibition will give the visitors the possibility to observe paintings and sketches he did.
We will notice an Athens still bare, with not so many inhabitants and houses. We could get a deeper look at the fashion style of the time.
Then in Egypt, with the curious people watching through “the lens” of Caffi’s eyes.
It seems that he paid the people for being immortalized in his artworks.
Caffi didn´t leave us only astonishing canvas after all these years, but he gave as unique and historical works, which tell and show us the reality of time, accompanying on the journey of the distant century of 1800.
The artworks forward the minds in the past, impressing through the ethereal use of lights and colours.
If you wish to get into the era of almost a century and a half ago, do not miss this exhibition. Photography was not yet able to realize comparable details.


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