The Ricciardi Collection


I want all the paintings that are in the Palazzo di Taranto and in the episcopio [of Nardò] having some artistic merit to be transferred to the public Museum of Taranto“: with these words, imprinted in the holographic will deposited in 1908 and kept in the notarial archive of Taranto, Mons. Giuseppe Ricciardi donated his collection of paintings to the Royal Museum of the City.

Mons. Giuseppe Ricciardi

A man of strong temperament and outstanding organizational skills, Monsignor Giuseppe Ricciardi was born in Taranto in 1839 and ordained a priest in 1864. During his apostolate, carried out in the San Pasquale penitentiary, he became strongly committed to raising the cultural awareness of the inmates; for this he received words of esteem and appreciation directly from the Deputy Prefect of Taranto: “… for a long time you have worked untiringly and unpaid to provide the prisoners with an education, and you have done this with a zeal and a charitable spirit that are above praise. This work of unparalleled charity and religious sentiment could not fail to prompt everyone’s admiration … “. He continued his studies and was appointed bishop of Nardò in 1888 where he lived out his desire to be closer to the faithful of his diocese. He contributed to the sustenance of the poor and paid particular attention to having churches built in the more remote areas and to keeping them open so that everyone could have access to them; with an innovative spirit he also supported the distinction between civil and religious competences and the removal of formalisms; he also demonstrated great sensitivity towards the cultural heritage of the Salento area, regarding which he promoted protection, conservation and restoration activities. He spent the last moments of his life again in Taranto, following his appointment by Pope Pius IX to the post of Apostolic Administrator of Castellaneta, where as a young man he had attended the seminary.

Portrait of Bishop Giuseppe Ricciardi (Episcopio of Nardò, Italy)

Monsignor Giuseppe Ricciardi-

The works of the collection

The collection includes a Byzantine icon, attributed to the 13th century, which reproduces the Virgin Hodegitria, an oil painting representing Our Lady of Sorrows in tears on a zinc plate, dating back to the 16th-17th century, and eighteen oil paintings on canvas, which can be dated chronologically between the 17th and 18th centuries, depicting sacred subjects. Many works can be traced back to the Neapolitan school of Andrea Vaccaro (The Redeemer, Sleeping Cupid), Luca Giordano (Transit of Saint Joseph, Adoration of the Shepherds, Massacre of the Innocents), Francesco Solimena (Mary Magdalen), Paolo de Matteis (Our Lady of Sorrows) and Francesco De Mura (The Prophets). The Repentant Magdalene and Christ in the Garden are by an unknown author. The later paintings (Our Lady of Sorrows with Saint Nicholas and Saint Barbara on either side, the Deposition) were attributed to the Apulian Leonardo Antonio Olivieri of Martina Franca. There are also paintings produced by artists from the Centre-North of Italy such as the painting of Saint Cecilia playing the organ by the Sienese artist Rutilio Manetti, the Circumcision, a copy by an unknown author of the original by Federico Barrocci from Urbino, and the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, which reproduces a subject that closely resembles a painting by Guidi Reni.

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