The Castle gallery of the Count Acquaviva:
Within the defensive structure of the castle walls there is a magnificent palace, suited to the highest demands of a princely court.
Apart from the official castle apartments there are an unusual group of rooms: an antechamber, a salon, and three other rooms; constituting one fourth of the gallery.
Today’s restoration of the castle allows one to see the architectural space in its authentic state, aided with the fortunate recovery of unique sculpture and masonry of the moon-shaped arcs.
The beautifully carved shelves dated to the beginning of the 6th century reflect the classic style recalling the aesthetic codes of the Count Andrea Matteo.
Mythological figures of satyrs, sirens and typical angels, draped in foliage, together with the human faces and lion-like masks depict the refined Renaissance culture of the time. Today’s Pinoteca is a reflection of this “rediscovered” Renaissance gallery.
Inside the Acquaviva Gallery there is an exceptional display of art: furniture, tapestries, embroideries and cloths, silvers, furnishings, and crystals.
Most exceptional is the amazing number of artistic and precious objects: statues, sculptures, and painting.
|The Coats of Arms, in stone, of the Count Giulio Antonio and of his wife Caterina Del Balzo Orsini (c.a. 1481), located on the cylindrical castle tower.|
|The Coats of Arms of Andrea Matteo and of his wife Piccolomini (c.a. 1503), located on the polygonal castle tower.|
The compositions and themes of the enriched court were of a naturalistic style, following the impact and influence of Caravaggio. A 1666 inventory list, detailing the varied rooms in the chapel and gallery, listing both great and small paintings, and “series” (The Apostles, The Kings and Emperors, The Histories of the Rate); along with other suitable ones according to kind (landscapes and views, biblical scenes, Saints and Madonnas, etc.) count around five hundred paintings!
Religiousness and the luxury of court, artistic refinement and the display of power, work together to satisfy and please the taste of the courtly class. Thanks to the restructuring undertaken by the Acquavivas, the ancient Castle was transformed: “…a restoration to a most splendid abode, for the Count Acquaviva, master of the city and territory,… capable of lodging any and all of his peers…” (Pacichelli).
Also the pictorial cycle of P. Finoglio with the histories of the Tasso with gilded green frame and leaves, contributed to create that refined person atmosphere now aroused by an exuberant and decorative art, now slightly evocative and sensual.
The Gallery already results to end Six hundred notably reorganized. Additionally the pictorial series’ of P. Finoglio, depicting the Tasso with gilded green frames and leaves, helps to create a refined atmosphere, aroused by this exuberant and decorative art, slightly evocative and sensual.
The gallery has already reorganized 600 works. The abandonment of the Castle by the Acquavivas, relocating to their Neapolitan residences in 701, resulted in the slow degradation of the collection. This progressive impoverishment was additionally impacted by probable transfers of works to artistic centers for their sale.
By the middle of the 8th century the ownership of the castle was placed in private hands, the buildings dismembered, and the collection of art dispersed, up to the sale of the pictorial series on Jerusalem in 1930. After which time one had to wait forty years for the community to recover the paintings (they were repurchased in 1974).
Only today have we finally reached the re-establishment of the Pinacoteca, as it appeared in the ancient castle gallery. Carved shelves, with human and mythological representations, as well as vegetable elements, situated appropriately in the gallery environment.
The county of Conversano was passed to the hands of the Acquaviva family in 1456. Having married Caterina Del Balzo Orsini, daughter of the powerful prince of Taranto, the famed Giulio Antonio died heroically in the Otrantina war with the Turks in 1481. For the heroic deeds in the war the name Aragon was conferred upon his illustrious lineage bringing great honor.
Starting in the 16th century the county was extended to include territories in Bari and in Salento, becoming one of the mot important feudal centers in the Neapolitan Kingdom. Besides their glory in war, the Acquaviva of Aragon reached great prestige promoting and patronizing works of an artistic and literary nature, according to the feudal cultural practice of the courtesan of the time.
Not only were they patrons of authors and artist, but lettered themselves: recall the Count Andrea Matteo (1481-1528), author of a variety of works, friend of Pontano and Sannazaro, owner of a rich library of books. Residing in Conversano as a primary residence, the counts turned the Castle into an abode, necessarily adjusting the ancient military structure to his demands. Though the Castle was widened with new spaces endowed with modern functionality, they didn’t overlook the need to strengthen them with solid defensive structures.
The cylindrical tower at the north of the castle, an emblem of castle structure, and of the entire city, is cast with the mark of Count Giulio Antonio and his wife Orsini Del Balzo with prominent coats of arms.
Corresponding to the oriental angle and suited to the weapons of the military at the time, in 1503 the compact polygonal tower was constructed by Count Andrea Matteo.
|Interior view of the Castle at the beginning of the 10th century|
|The medallion of the Count Andrea Matteo Acquaviva of Aragon|