The Collezioni Comunali d'Arte, instituted in 1936, are on display in the elaborate setting of what were once the official quarters of the papal legate on the second floor of Palazzo Comunale, beneath friezes and ceiling decorations originally painted in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and restored in 1934 under the direction of Guido Zucchini. In part, the collection is the sum of numerous ninteenth and early twentieth century bequests, wich added paintings, forniture, furnishings and decorative objects to the older collection of works that belonged, in the past, to the city's bodies of magistrates. Of particular interest are the important collections of two artists (Pelagio Palagi and Cincinnato Baruzzi) and the works from the fields of applied arts and design that came to the collections through the Pepoli and Rusconi Bequests.
The Collezioni Comunali house works from the thirtheenth to the early twentieth century, including some that were originally held in the Museo Civico Medievale such as a number of sculpted and painted crosses and paintings by Vitale da Bologna, Jacopo di Paolo, Luca Signorelli, and Francesco Francia. The Bolognese and Emilian Cinquecento are represented by Aspertini (early sixteenth century), Carracci and Passerotti (late sixteenth century). The collection's substantial body of seventeenth-century paintings includes works by Emilian painters (Tiarini, Cagnacci, Gessi) and by artists from other schools, such as Artemisia Gentileschi's extraordinary Ritratto di Gonfaloniere
(Portait of a Gonfalonier), executed in 1622. The Galleria Vidoniana, with frescoed vaults commissioned in 1665 by the Cardinal Legate Pietro Vidoni, houses some of the most significant works in the collection: eighteen paintings executed between 1713 and 1723 by Donato Creti, wich came to the city in 1744 through the donation of Marcantonio Collina Sbaraglia.
In some rooms of the Rusconi "wing", it is possible to experience the refined atmosphere of private dwellings of the eighteenth century. The last part of the museum is occupied by Neoclassical and Art Nouveau paintings, including an important collection of works by Pelagio Palagi; the painting Ruth,
considered the masterpiece of Francesco Hayez's mature period; portraits by Francois Le Ducq and Karl Brjullov; the "religious symbolism veined with hints of Art Nouveau" of Alfredo Savini; and the lace and embroidery of Bologna's Aemilia Ars society, one of the most advanced experiments in applied arts in Italy end Europe at the turn of the ninetheenth century.
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