Curated by Maichol Clemente
Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice
19 May 2023 – 29 Ooctober 2023
Direzione regionale Musei Veneto
Palazzo Grimani and Venetian Heritage present the exhibition Ecce Homo. A Bust by Filippo Parodi restored by Venetian Heritage dedicated to the Ecce Homo by Filippo Parodi from the destroyed chapel of Villa Pisani in Stra, and long kept in the storerooms of the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. The exhibition is curated by Maichol Clemente and organised and financed by Venetian Heritage.
This bust, carved in Carrara marble by the Genoese sculptor Filippo Parodi (1630-1702), depicts Christ at the moment when Pontius Pilate, after a long night of torture and pressing interrogation, offered him to the judgment of the people by uttering the famous words, “Ecce Homo” (“This is the Man”). The Latin words are incidentally the title of applied to all the countless Western works depicting Jesus at this moment. The bust shows the Son of God with the sign of the cruel scourging he has undergone subject after his capture and bathed in the blood that in drops and rivulets trickles down his body from his head encircled by the crown of thorns; his hands are bound by a tight rope, and between his fingers he holds the bamboo scepter ironically forced on to him to deride his “kingship”–like the mantle and the crown itself–by the “unholy Ministers,” in the harrowing hours on the eve of his crucifixion. Inventories testify to the widespread presence of this sacred iconography in the mansions of Venice in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, both in painting and sculpture. The Ecce Homo must have been part of the collection of one of the most prestigious families of the patriciate of the Serenissima Republic: the Pisani di Santo Stefano, owners of the palace that today houses the Conservatorio “Benedetto Marcello” as well as of the Villa di Stra, the place where the sculpture was located until the nineteenth century before it was moved to the Royal Palace in Venice.
Unfortunately, we still know very little of how the work came about, other than that it was almost certainly commissioned in the second half of the 1680s. Its author, Filippo Parodi, had arrived in Venice in 1683, where he had been asked to sculpt the funeral monument of Patriarch Morosini in the church of San Nicola da Tolentino. It was only after the completion of this important first work that Parodi was able to devote himself to other requests, including precisely those of the Pisani. The Pisani–and especially Alvise (d. 1679), the procurator of St. Mark’s, who possessed an impressive number of busts in his apartment in the Procuratie–were great collectors of sculpture, so it does not come as a surprise that they would ask a Bernini-trained sculptor like Parodi for some works to add to their magnificent collection. In addition to the Ecce Homo restored by Venetian Heritage, Parodi also certainly sculpted two profane allegories, namely Spring and Autumn, which for the occasion have been brought here to Palazzo Grimani from the National Museum of Villa Pisani in Stra.