Frans Floris; William Key
oil on board
The work of Frans Floris is among the most enigmatic of the Valsecchi collection. The table is painted on both sides: in the side that was intended to be seen, the Flemish painter took a self-portrait together with William Key, a fellow student of the Académie Lombard in Liege and three Roman emperors: Tito, Caio and Vitellio. The five men are also however "connoisseurs" of antiquity: they open a box containing fragments of Roman sculptures, such as the Medici Venus or the Horse Head. A mechanism still existing in the frame allowed to turn the table and to see the back: here a Battle of elders seems inspired by the prints drawn by the frescoes of Rosso Fiorentino in Fontainebleau. Floris had been in Rome in 1535 and in Liège, under the leadership of Lambert Lombard, he was the most promising of the Flemish 'young rebels' who believed in a renewal of painting on the basis of exchanges with the old. This remote dialogue with the Roman world, in which ancient and contemporary overlap happily, is now exhibited in the library of Palazzo Butera, in an installation designed by Giovanni Cappelletti that allows you to see both sides of the work.