EXHIBITION A kaleidoscopic art

“Ottaviano Nelli’s pictorial strength was his ability to cross registers and mix levels, the music of the angels and the fortore degli stabbi, the sacred hymn and the irreverent masquerade, the lilial tenderness of his Madonnas and the crudity of the blood in streams of martyrs, the melancholy sweetness and the smug vulgarity”

Andrea De Marchi and Maria Rita Sivestrelli
the curators of the exhibition

Ottaviano Nelli is the undisputed protagonist of the exhibition “Ottaviano Nelli e il ‘400 a Gubbio. Oro e colore nel cuore dell’Appennino” (Ottaviano Nelli and the Quattrocento in Gubbio. Gold and colour in the heart of the Apennines), to be staged in Gubbio from 23 September 2021 to 9 January 2022. It will be hosted in two of the city’s most emblematic exhibition venues, the Palazzo Ducale and the Palazzo dei Consoli. The exhibition brings together the most important works of the Gubbio-born painter Ottaviano Nelli, such as polyptychs, tablets and detached frescoes, and at the same time offers an interpretation of the artist’s deep bond with the city and the district of which he was the greatest expression of his age.

Ottaviano di Martino Nelli (Gubbio, 1375 ca. – 1444 ca.) is the most outstanding artist that the city of Gubbio has ever had and is presented to the general public through a dedicated monographic exhibition. Schooled in the late Gothic culture, he managed to blend local tradition with elements taken from Lombard painting and French miniature, developing a personal language close to the solutions of Lorenzo Salimbeni and Gentile da Fabriano. In Gubbio, where he was repeatedly appointed consul of the city, he directed a very active workshop which exerted a certain influence in Umbria and the Marches. The central theme of the exhibition, therefore, is the 15th-century Gubbio of which Ottaviano Nelli was an undisputed protagonist.


Ottaviano di Martino Nelli, Polittico francescano, Erode ed Erodiade accusati da San Giovanni Battista, 1420-1425
Worcester (Mass.), Worcester Art Museum

Jacopo Bedi, Martirio di Sant’Apollonia, 1460-1465 ca.
Cagli, Santa Maria della Misericordia

The splendid rooms of Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo dei Consoli present some of the highest quality and most emblematic examples of his art, with loans from other museums, major institutions and private collections.
Ottaviano Nelli was above all a painter of frescoes, but the exhibition also features altarpieces and diptychs intended for individual devotion.


Palazzo Ducale > Ottaviano Nelli, precious painter
Palazzo dei Consoli > The legacy of Nelli in Gubbio

The exhibition, curated by Andrea De Marchi and Maria Rita Silvestrelli, is promoted by the Direzione Regionale Musei Umbria, the Municipality of Gubbio, Palazzo Ducale di Gubbio and Palazzo dei Consoli with the contribution of the Umbria Region, the support of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Perugia, in collaboration with the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio dell’Umbria, the Diocese of Gubbio, Gubbio Cultura e Multiservizi and the Festival del Medioevo. The organisation has been entrusted to Maggioli Cultura.


Ducal Palace

The only example of Renaissance architecture in a prevalently medieval city, it stands opposite the Cathedral and is the result of the extension and transformation of a group of medieval buildings. Work on the Ducal Palace began in 1476 at the behest of Federico di Montefeltro, to a design by Francesco di Giorgio Martini of Siena. The work was completed under his son Guidobaldo.
The palace stands out for its architectural finesse and refined decorations.
In the interior rooms, which still have some of the original furnishings, an interesting collection of works of art is on display which illustrates the main phases of development of Eugubinian painting between the 13th and 18th centuries. The tour of the building continues with a fine copy of Federico da Montefeltro’s “studiolo”, covered with inlaid panels (the original is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York).
On the ground floor, it is possible to access the area excavated below the courtyard, where there are vestiges of pre-existing medieval structures.
The tour terminates with a visit to a section on the upper floors of the building dedicated to the winning works of the Gubbio Biennial of Contemporary Art, including those of Leoncillo, Pomodoro and Castellani.

Palazzo dei Consoli

Together with the Piazza Grande and Palazzo del Podestà complex, it is one of the most majestic and daring medieval urban buildings. It bears witness to the grandeur of the political and institutional project of the Free Commune of Gubbio.
The construction of the monumental complex, created as a new political centre and symbol of the city and the surrounding area, was commissioned between 1321 and 1322. By the middle of the 14th century the main structures were almost complete. This ancient government building housed the main magistracies and institutions of the Free Commune of Gubbio: the General Council of the People, the Consuls and the Gonfalonier of Justice as well as the Capitano del Popolo and the Constable at the head of the 24 armed men in charge of guarding the palace.
Since 1909, the rooms of Palazzo dei Consoli have housed the collections of the Civic Museum. The museum collection, arranged on several floors, illustrates local history and culture from prehistory through to the 20th century.