Castiglione: Lost Genius at the Denver Art Museum Reveals Life and Artistic Practice of Daring 17th Century Draftsman, Painter and Printmaker

First major Castiglione exhibition in the United States in more than 40 years

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) presents Castiglione: Lost Genius, featuring 90 of the finest drawings, etchings and monotypes of the 17th century Genoese artist, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione. An almost forgotten master of the Italian Baroque, Castiglione was a self-proclaimed genius. The exhibition explores Castiglione’s mastery of art and how he produced brilliant works on paper despite a turbulent private life that prevented him from fully realizing his talents. The works in the exhibition are generously loaned by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection. Castiglione: Lost Genius will be on view Aug. 9, 2015, through Nov. 8, 2015.

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, A presumed self-portrait, 1640s. Etching, platemark; overall: 188 x 138 mm. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015.

“Castiglione was a brilliant artist who blurred the lines of artistic media through draftsmanship to achieve his own creative ends,” said Timothy J. Standring, Gates Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the DAM and co-curator of the exhibition. “My fascination with this artist began in 1978 through my graduate studies and it is a true pleasure to see this exhibition come to fruition.”

Standring’s ongoing 30-year captivation with the artist led to some intriguing archival discoveries, including Castiglione’s volatile personality and alleged criminal acts including potential murder. Prior to this exhibition, little of the artist’s life was documented, and his works were known mostly by specialists in the field.

The drawings and prints presented in Castiglione: Lost Genius convey the extraordinary draftsmanship of an artist who drew like no other artist in the 17th century, drawing with oil pigments on unprimed paper for the bulk of his career. He was recognized internationally during his lifetime, but fell from favor during the 19th century. The exhibition unveils Castiglione’s drawing practices during his formative years in Genoa and Rome, mature years spent peripatetically throughout Italy, and finally his last years in Mantua.

“Audiences in the United States have had little exposure to the works of Castiglione,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM. “With this exhibition, we’re pleased to share the incredible story of this artist with our visitors, who are sure to be captivated upon introduction to the devilish and unconventional genius of Castiglione.”

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, The Genius of Castiglione, dated 1648. Etching, platemark; overall: 372 x 250 mm. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015.

Castiglione was not only a painter and draftsman, he was the revolutionary inventor of the monotype in the 1640s, experimenting with the technique centuries before Post-Impressionist artists such as Degas and Gauguin would in the late 19th century. This technique allowed Castiglione to make a print from one-off designs, allowing him to combine the brio and dash of his draftsmanship with his interest in printmaking.

This exhibition has been organized by the Denver Art Museum and Royal Collection Trust. Castiglione: Lost Genius will be on view in the DAM’s Gallagher Family Gallery on level one of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building and will be included in general admission.

Exhibition Catalog

The exhibition catalog is co-authored by Dr. Timothy J. Standring, Gates Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the DAM, and Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings, Royal Collection Trust. The catalog is the first book to be published on this artist in English in more than 40 years and constitutes a major revision of the artist’s chronology. Published by Royal Collection Trust and available in The Shop at the DAM, Castiglione: Lost Genius will become the standard for connoisseurship of Castiglione’s drawings.

Exhibition Tour Schedule

The traveling exhibition, Castiglione: Lost Genius, opened to critical acclaim in London at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and then traveled to The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Denver Art Museum will serve as the exhibition’s first American venue. Following the DAM exhibition, Lost Genius will travel to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Exhibition Organizers and Sponsors

Castiglione: Lost Genius is organized by the Royal Collection Trust and the Denver Art Museum. Exhibition support is provided by Robert Lehman Foundation, the generous donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign, and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine, CBS4, Comcast Spotlight and The Denver Post.

Media Resources

The Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Metro citizens support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, culture and scientific organizations. For museum information, call 720-865-5000 or visit www.denverartmuseum.org.

The Royal Collection Trust

Royal Collection Trust, a department of the Royal Household, is responsible for the care of the Royal Collection and manages the public opening of the official residences of The Queen. Income generated from admissions and from associated commercial activities contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational programs. Royal Collection Trust’s work is undertaken without public funding of any kind.

The Royal Collection

The Royal Collection is among the largest and most important art collections in the world, and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 13 royal residences and former residences across the United Kingdom, most of which are regularly open to the public. The Royal Collection is held in trust by the Sovereign for her successors and the nation, and is not owned by The Queen as a private individual.

At The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh and in the Drawings Gallery at Windsor Castle, aspects of the Collection are displayed in a program of temporary exhibitions. Many works from the Collection are on long-term loan to institutions throughout the UK, and short-term loans are frequently made to exhibitions around the world as part of a commitment to public access and to show the Collection in new contexts.

Explore the Royal Collection at www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection.