You’ve got some energy for another museum, yet you long for a change of pace from all Rome’s antiquities and a reprieve from the large crowds that perpetually haunt its most popular attractions and piazzas. The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna might be just what you’re looking for. This oft-overlooked museum houses a collection of 19th- through mid-20th-century Italian paintings and sculptures. In addition, the museum has a nice selection of works by non-Italian artists from the same period, including Delacroix, Rodin, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, van Gogh, Pollack, Giacometti, and Klimt.
During the last half of the 19th century, while French painters were turning the art world upside down with impressionism, a number of Florentine artists, referred to as the Macchiaioli, developed a style of their own. This Italian take on impressionism was largely overlooked internationally. The gallery pays homage to the "macchiaioli painters," along with De Chirico, Carrà, Casorati, Marini, Modigliani, Sironi, and others.
Our touring party, which had grown to seven now that we were in the company of The Better Half’s spry 91-year-old nonna, had just visited the nearby Galleria e Museo Borghese. We’d decided to let the group fracture for the remainder of the afternoon to pursue more individual sightseeing interests. Being a sucker for most anything Vincent van Gogh or Amedeo Modigliani have ever done, I chose the Moderna.
The museum’s most prized possession is, without a doubt, Gustav Klimt’s dazzling work The Three Ages of Woman, painted in 1905 during Klimt’s "golden period," which reached its apex with The Kiss in 1907 to 1908.
The portrait of Anna Zborowska is one of the three Modigliani canvases in the gallery’s collection. His subject is the common-law wife of the Polish poet Leopold Zborowski, whom, by 1916, had become Modigliani's primary dealer and made many personal sacrifices to further Modigliani’s career. In subsequent years, Modigliani painted many portraits of the couple.
The museum has two very nice van Gogh portraits, L'Arlesienne (Madame Ginoux) and Portrait of a Young Peasant. Both of these poignant canvases were painted during van Gogh’s year long stay at the asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, between 1889 and 1890. I later discovered that Portrait of a Young Peasant has a fascinating story behind it.
Another highlight is Paul Cézanne’s Le Cabanon de Jourdan. The painting is unfinished and was one of Cézanne’s last canvases before his death in 1906.
The museum was practically deserted on a rainy Sunday afternoon when I visited, and tourists in Rome doubtlessly have other sites in mind. However, if some of the artists in the collection are of particular interest to you, then the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna is worth a stop. You can easily find what you’re looking for and peruse the rest of their collection in under an hour.
Metro: Flaminio (Line A)
Tel: 34 06 322 981
Fax: 34 06 322 1579