The exhibition

The exhibition features painters who were active in southern Italy in the 17th and early 18th centuries, in particular the large group of the so-called Caravaggisti. Most of the works come from the Fondazione Studi di Storia dell’Arte Roberto Longhi, which safeguards the heritage of the most prominent Italian art historian who was also an extraordinary collector.

The paintings of Caravaggio and his circle of disciples have undoubtedly been central to the research of Roberto Longhi since the university thesis he wrote on Merisi in 1911. In his manor in Florence – Villa ‘Il Tasso’-, where the Foundation bearing his name is currently headquartered, Longhi collected a considerable body of works of art by masters of all artistic periods, which became for him an opportunity for further research and study work. The core of his collection includes works by Caravaggisti painters, besides Caravaggio’s ‘Boy Bitten by a Lizard,’ which he purchased in 1928 and is internationally acknowledged. Longhi took inspiration from the subject of this canvas for a remarkable charcoal drawing he did of the boy alone carrying his original signature and date, 1930. The drawing will be on display in the introductory section of the exhibit, which features more than thirty paintings by Caravaggio’s followers and other artists who were active in southern Italy. They provide meaningful examples of the trends and objectives Merisi’s works sparked and enhanced and also of the historical meaning of his painting.

The opening canvas of the exhibition is the masterpiece by Valentin de Boulogne The Denial of Saint Peter, which is an extraordinary example of the unique interpretation of Caravaggio’s style that Bartolomeo Manfredi developed, i.e., the so-called manfrediana methodus.

The deep rooting of Caravaggio’s teachings in Neapolitan art is confirmed by the David by Andrea Vaccaro and the intense Saint Jerome by the Maestro dell’Emmaus di Pau, while the Assumption of the Virgin by Antonio De Bellis, characteristic for its detailed and exquisite execution, shows how Neapolitan artists tended to use the lighter colours of their palette during the middle decades of the 1600s.

In the works by Matthias Stom, who was active in Sicily for a long time, we find a perfect combination between northern culture, connected to the Dutch Caravaggism, and Italian painting. The show includes also two masterpieces by Mattia Preti, the artist who contributed more than anyone else in keeping Caravaggio’s tradition alive to the end of the 1660s. The exhibition also features two still-life masterpieces of the Neapolitan tradition, known for being particularly diversified and rich, which are for the first time on display, namely the theatrical Still Life by Giovan Battista Recco and the more ordinary Still Life dated 1637 and signed by Tommaso Realfonzo himself.

Finally, there are four paintings of high artistic value belonging to the Fondazione Sicilia. They are two large canvases by Luca Giordano, the artist who ferried Neapolitan art from Ribera’s Naturalism to the brighter and lighter painting of the 1700s as testified in the dramatic Judith Displaying the Head of Holofernes and in the monumental painting of mythological subject showing The Triumph of Bacchus Neptune and Amphitrite.


The venue

Villa Zito takes its name from one of the last owners of this dwelling, the citrus fruit merchant Francesco Zito Scalici who purchased the building in 1909. However, it dates farther back in time as reported by a local historian, the Marquis of Villabianca, who wrote that the manor had been built by Gaspare Scicli around the middle of the eighteenth century. In the second half of that same century, prince Antonio La Grua of Carini acquired it.

The portal still bears a Latin couplet reading: “Hinc lites, strepitus, curae, hinc procul ite cadentes; hic reparent animos otia, rura, quies” [may disputes, clamours and worries stay away, and the soul find rest in the peace, countryside and quiet of this place], which tells us that it was used as a country house. The Prince of Carini had purchased it following the fashion of the time by which aristocrats used to buy a retreat outside the city walls where to reside during the warmest months of the year.


The villa had two floors: a ground floor and first floor, where the owner of the palazzo lived. There was also a chapel next to the main building; accessible through purposely-built doors, it was decorated with painted architectural motifs realised in 1762.

The building as it appears today is the result of the work of the architect Michele La Cavera, dating from the first two decades of the twentieth century, as Francesco Zito asked him to decorate its villa according to the latest fashion. The result is a stately and elegant villa in the classicistic style of the sixteenth century: the façade is decorated with courses of ashlars, features windows framed as an aedicula with decorations highlighting them, and is completed with side terraces.

The vaulted ceilings feature tempera decorations dating from the same years both on the ground and first floors, some showing floral or neo-classical motifs, some in eclectic style.

In 1926, the Bank of Sicily purchased the villa to host the offices of two local banks (Credito Agrario and Credito Fondiario) and in 1938 it became the exposition venue for the art collections owned by the Bank. The Fondazione Sicilia acquired the villa in 2005 and then commissioned the architect Corrado Anselmi to restore and revamp it.

The exposition halls preserve and display the painting collections and a selection of its old maps to the public.


ProjectGiovan Battista Caracciolo, detto Battistello - Cristo morto trasportato al sepolcro

From Ribera to Luca Giordano. Caravaggisti and other painters of the Fondazione Roberto Longhi and Fondazione Sicilia.
Villa Zito - Via della Libertà, 52 - 90144 Palermo
17th February to 10th June 2018 EXTENDED TO 24th JUNE 2018

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm.
Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 am to 7 pm
Special opening on April 2nd 2018
Closed on Mondays
The ticket office closes half an hour before closing hour.

- Full price € 10.00
Discounted € 8.00 for groups and holders of special discount cards (valid in Italy)
Special discount € 4.00 for young people up to 18 years of age and school groups
Free for children under 6, escorting teachers, people with disabilities, accredited journalists and tour guides.
Ticket for the exhibition includes the visit of the permanent collections of Villa Zito.

Info and Booking:
Phone +39 091 8887767


ProjectJusepe de Ribera - San Tommaso - 1612 circa

The exhibition ‘From Ribera to Luca Giordano. Caravaggisti and other painters of the Fondazione Roberto Longhi and Fondazione Sicilia’ is momentous for the historical and artistic importance of both the displayed works—which provide examples of the trends and objectives that Merisi’s works had promoted and fostered—and historical-artistic relevance of the characteristics of the works of art and techniques employed to create them. Therefore, the exhibition is complemented with a program of educational activities aimed at a deeper understanding of the main artistic themes that the works on display suggest and they are customised for different types of visitors.

Adult visitors
Adults are the end-receivers of some activities providing a diversified approach to the reading of the Caravaggisti works. In particular, adults can enjoy guided and thematic tours of the exhibition.
Duration 45’ - Cost € 5,00 per person plus reduced ticket of € 8,00 – max 25 participants.
Click here to discover the guided tour for adult visitors

The activities we have planned for schools focus on some emblematic paintings of the exhibition in addition to a theme which is presented to gain a deeper understanding of it. This allows us to discover the objectives and pictorial qualities of the revolutionary poetic of Caravaggio, which was fully grasped by his followers called the Caravaggisti, whose paintings are showed here.
Duration 90’ - Cost € 5,00 per class (max 25 participants) plus special reduced ticket of € 4,00 per person. Free for escort teachers.
Click here to discover the guided tour for school groups

Activities for families are intended to draw cross-sectional groups of visitors to the exhibition to discover its historical-artistic impact. They employ a playful/educational approach focussing on involving participants and making them interact in order to provide a shared experience of high cultural values for the members of the same family.
Duration 90’ - Cost € 10,00 per family (max 3 families together) plus special reduced ticket of € 4,00 per person.
Click here to discover the guided tour for families

Press office

ProjectFilippo di Liagno, detto Filippo Napoletano - Bivacco notturno al chiaro di luna


Antonio Gerbino
Mobile +39 335 413512

Barbara Izzo
Phone +39 06 692050220

Fondazione Sicilia

Alessia Franco
Mobile +39 388 3634156

Download the press release

Download the photos' captions

To download images you can visit the site – sala stampa