Padre Matteo Ricci

The Sections of the Exhibition


First Part

The first part of the exhibition reconstructs the background of the artistic and cultural milieu in which Ricci moved in the late Renaissance.

The exhibition will take paintings by some of the greatest Italian artists of the day to China, where they have never been shown before. It includes works by Raphael, Titian, Lorenzo Lotto, Federico Zuccari, Federico Barocci, Giulio Romano and Simone De Magistris. Also shown will be scientific instruments which demonstrate how important the contribution of European knowledge and experience was in China. On display are books and manuscripts including the 'Astronomicum caesareum by P. Apianus, the Theatrum orbis terrarum by Ortelio, a copy of which Ricci gave to the emperor,the Humani corporis fabrica by Vesalio and the Biblia polyglotta printed in Antwerp. As well as these the exhibition includes many other priceless sixteenth century bound works of art, copper engravings and scale models of ancient and Renaissance Rome, musical instruments, machines designed by Leonardo Da Vinci and mechanical devices, instruments for measuring time and space as well as articles of Renaissance furniture and famous tapestries by Raphael, usually housed in the Marche National Gallery in Urbino. All the exhibits contribute to the reconstruction of a typical Renaissance 'Palazzo' of the late sixteenth century.

Second Part

The second part of the exhibition illustrates the world which Matteo Ricci found in China when he arrived. It reconstructs, by means of original Chinese documents and objects of the time, the journey, or rather the occasions for cultural exchange, communication and dialogue between Ricci and his Chinese interlocutors from Macao, where he landed first, to Beijing, where the great pioneer is buried and his tomb still stands. The Chinese works in the exhibition evoke the fundamental aspects of the Chinese culture which Ricci met and studied: the written language, books, the three great religions (Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism), as well as the works produced by Ricci and his friends in China: books, maps and scientific instruments. Particular emphasis has been placed on the life and community of the Chinese scholars who welcomed Li Madou and recognised him as a maestro.

Priceless objects in gold and jade evoke the fascination of the court of the Wanli emperor, to which the foreign scholar had free access. Also displayed is a painting of a landscape with woods near Beijing attributed to Ricci himself.


The Sections of the Exhibition

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