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HORSES, COSTUMES AND RESIDENCES. Rediscovering Carlo Pittara’s Fiera di Saluzzo (sec. XVII)

  • Exhibition
  • 19 December 2019 - 9 November 2020

Curated by Virginia Bertone

The GAM - Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Turin presents an exhibition that will allow visitors to rediscover an important work from its collections, thirty-eight years after it was last displayed. It’s the epic painting titled Fiera di Saluzzo (XVII century) that Carlo Pittara presented at the IV National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Turin in 1880. Measuring 4.08 meters in height and 8.11 meters in width, it depicts a seventeenth century trade fair with animals, which took place just outside the city walls of Saluzzo.

The painting was purchased by Lord Ignazio Weil-Weiss in June of 1880, during the Exhibition, and only later, in 1917, was it included in the Turin GAM collections. It was last put on display at Palazzo Madama in the summer of 1981 for the exhibition Alfredo d’Andrade. Preservation and restoration. After the show, the canvas was rolled up and stored away in the Museum’s storage areas where it has been preserved until now.

The GAM exhibition, curated by Virginia Bertone outlines Carlo Pittara’s visual art education background and the years with the “Rivara School” to focus on the story and the critical success that accompanied the Fiera di Saluzzo. This new exhibition set-up thus offers a chance to rediscover, appraise, and delve into this work, examining the motivations behind this great picture. At the same time, bringing the artwork back to public view has meant assessing its state of preservation and replacing the damaged 1981 frame.

At the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Turin, visitors were thrilled at the sight of Pittara’s monumental work, which was at the time highly praised for its inventiveness and the incredibly realistic scenery recreating the ancient trade fair, in a life-size representation. The painting is in fact extraordinary. A great parade of horsemen, figures in costume and several animals: goats, cattle, purebred and cart horses, farmyard animals, and even a little monkey perched on a young man’s shoulder in order to draw attention to a quaint trinket vendor. A sort of panorama, if not an anticipation of a cinemascope vision.

The painting will be exhibited alongside a large chart through which visitors can pinpoint the different buildings and residences in Saluzzo, and recognize all the different animal species portrayed. To identify and learn more about the animals that Pittara painted with such scrupulous precision and skill, the exhibition includes technical contributions from some Faculty members of the Department of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Turin. Such collaboration is part of the activities marking the celebrations of the 250-year anniversary of the Veterinary School in Turin.

The exhibition display concludes with a section devoted to the 1880 National Exhibition showcasing several works acquired by Città di Torino for the Civic Museum. First is one of the paintings that were awarded a medal: The Deposition of Pope Silverio by Cesare Maccari with its striking truthfulness in the delineation of the life-size figures its late-ancient roman period inspiration. Following are the marble sculpture representing early martyrdom, Eulalia Christiana by Emilio Franceschi—which was also awarded a prize—and the sensuous representation of the Slave by Giacomo Ginotti matching the taste of the time for orientalism. The research studies carried out for this exhibition have brought into prominence other works from the GAM collections that were presented at the 1880 event and eventually donated to the Museum, such as a painting that strongly resembles Pittara’s subject titled Animal County Fair in Moncalieri by Felice Cerruti Bauduc—which was in fact completely outshined by the presence of the Fiera di Saluzzoor the unusual subject painted by Francesco Gonin in his mature work The first horse tamed by man. Finally, on display are also Domenico Morelli’s wonderful Studies for his work “Temptation of St. Anthony to echo the painting that was successfully presented at the Exhibition. On that occasion Domenico Morelli was awarded a diploma of honor, while Antonio Fontanesi, who participated with his latest work Clouds, was not even taken into consideration for an award.  

The exhibition has been carried out with the scientific support of Lea Antonioletti, Sonia Damiano, and Alice Guido.

On the occasion of this exhibition, GAM has started a collaboration with the Dog Daycare service BauLoft. Dog owners who wish to visit the museum can leave their pets in the care of BauLoft dog-sitters in via Spalato 63/a. This arrangement provides for a double discount, both on the Museum admission ticket and the hourly rate of the dog sitting service. Info and times at 

Hours: Tuesday — Thursday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Closed Monday. Last ticket sold one hour before closing.
Admission Tickets: Adults 10€ Concessions 8€
Free Admission with Abbonamento Musei e Torino Card


The exhibit is included in the admission ticket to Helmut Newton's exhibit