The Davia Bargellini Museum, opened in 1924 in the palazzo by the same name, was set up under the guidance of the art historian Francesco Malaguzzi Valeri. Malaguzzi Valeri arranged works from the Davia Bargellini collection of paintings along with a selection of objects from the applied arts of various provenance to create an authentic eighteenth-century Bolognese setting, where rare objects like the scenic theater for marionettes and the enchanting reproduction in miniature of a private home of the 1700's mingle with prized furniture and decorative objects.
The picture gallery provides an introduction to Bolognese art of the early fourteenth century with works such as Vitale da Bologna's Madonna dei Denti
, the Pietà
by Simone dei Crocifissi, and Cristoforo da Bologna's Madonna and Child
. Bologna's significant contribution to late gothic Italian art is represented here by Jacopo di Paolo's Saint John the Baptist
and Michele di Matteo's Saint John the Evangelist
. Other paintings testify to the city's vibrant artistic life from the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. Of particular interest are those that attest to the important role played by family relationship in local workshop (Prospero and Lavinia Fontana, Giuseppe Maria and Luigi Crespi).
Among the paintings commissioned by the Bargellini family are portraits of important members of the dinasty by Bartolomeo Passerotti as well as paintings by Marcantonio Franceschini depicting subjects both sacred and secular.
Bolognese sculpture, and especially the local taste for terracotta, is represented by a wide array of works from the sixteenth through the ninteenth century. They include the imposing bust of Virgilio Bargellini by Vincenzo Onofri, the elegant little statues by Giuseppe Maria Mazza and Angelo Gabriello Piò, and the rich collection of figures for crèches crafted in Bologna in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. At the core of the collection are a number of objects from the applied arts, "curiosities from old Bologna" the true heart of this singular museum in wich wrought-iron objects and finely embroidered liturgical vestments may be viewed alongside a late eighteenth-century carriage with extraordinary decorations in paint and gilt.
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