Villa Renatico Martini represents the classic case of monument marked by events that have modified its destination and transformed its function from residence of Ferdinando Martini, literate and politician, into Museo di arte contemporanea e del Novecento (Contemporary and 1900s Art Museum).
Little remains of the original furnishing; as evidence of its past elegance there are the surviving architectonical decorations and the coffer ceilings. Despite all this, it is still possible to sense the inspiring principles that guided the owner of the home and architect Cesare Spighi in the design and construction of the villa.
Ars e Pax – Art and Peace. This is what is written on two cartouches placed on the sides of the entrance, they summarise the ideas on which the design is based. The continuous dialogue between the villa and countryside found its completion in the representation of the seasons and rural life inserted in the ceiling of the vestibule.
The pictorial cycle composed of twelve paintings was missing right after the owners death; since then they have been preserved in the memory of the few people that frequented the villa during the last years of Martini’s life.
However, today thanks to a series of photos, it is possible to see these paintings that narrate about ploughing season, spring fields, and healthy children that are playing cheerfully, summer afternoons where black turkeys were in the sunny farmyards full of hay shocks, shepherds that play pipes under the shady branches while controlling the flock, hunting scenes, and the rigours of cold weather.
Giovanni Fattori, Francesco and Luigi Gioli, Eugenio Cecconi, Niccolò Cannicci, and Angelo Torchi were called to realise these works that show a modernised conception of the representation of reality; it became more intimist, softer; the moral tension of Coubertin realism that influenced the previous painting of the Macchiaioli was abandoned.
Now the study aims at a photographic effect in the lines and colours up to reaching decorative effects.
The reasons of this change can be identified in the changed social conditions after the Unity of Italy. From then art was conceived as a divertissement of the middle class, it had to be immediate and not binding.
In conclusion, this cycle assumes the characteristics of a pictorial programme that adheres to the tendency of European naturalism that the young generations admired especially during their visits to the Parisian Salons.
A renewed taste that Martini himself encouraged both in his frequent writings dedicated to art exhibitions and by taking part in debates that were held in Villa di Fauglia that belonged to the Gioli family where the debate on naturalism was continued.
Arianna Bernava and Laura Mobilia