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The Art Gallery layout

The layout of the Art Gallery mostly follows a chronological criterion from which a kind of narrative of the city and its territory can be derived.

The Annunciation and Adoration of the Shepherds

The Annunciation is the most important tapestry in Palazzo dei Priori. It was created around the end of the 15th century and was inspired by a drawing by Flemish painter Justus van Gent. It is significant not only from a figurative point of view, but also from a technical and executive one. In fact, it boasts laminated weft threads, as well as a brilliantly-resolved attempt to create nuances through “colour wedges”. These were created by mathematically grooving the number of wefts, resulting in one colour giving way to another and almost fading into it. It is a spectacle of colours of plant origin, which has stood the test of time and still inspires awe and wonder.

Perhaps the most important work in the art gallery is The Adoration of the Shepherds, a large oil painting on canvas created in 1608 by Pieter Paul Rubens. It was commissioned by Flaminio Ricci and completed in three months, before the painter returned to his homeland. It was originally located in the church of St Philip Neri, but is today housed in the Art Gallery. The use of chiaroscuro seems to be a tribute by the artist to his colleague Caravaggio, whom he had the opportunity to meet during his stay in Italy.

Initially, it was not completely certain who the author of the work was. However, attribution was ascertained in 1927 when Roberto Longhi found correspondence between the customer and the Fermo brothers. Father Ricci, at the time rector of the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella in Rome, wrote that he had commissioned Rubens to paint the altarpiece for the church in Fermo, to be placed in the chapel of the Nativity. The contract bears the date 6 March, along with the sum of 200 ecus. For this amount, the painter would draw five large figures: Our Lady, St Joseph, the Baby Jesus and two shepherds. However, in the background there is also an elderly woman, rejoicing at the birth, and four angels. The scene is dominated by the central light emanating from the new-born child who becomes the main feature of the painting and summarizes the miracle of the Saviour’s birth; the landscapes seem to be inspired by the Marche region.

Portrait of Blessed Antonio Grassi

Also connected to the history of St Philip Neri is the Portrait of Blessed Antonio Grassi in the Portraits Room, commissioned by the municipality in 1672 from artist Pier Simone Fanelli of Recanati, after the death of the man who had been the head of the Fermo congregation and had acted as peacemaker during the violent popular uprising that broke out in Fermo in 1648. The people of Fermo promoted his canonisation process, however he was not beatified until 1900. Commission of the portrait for the municipal seat is proof of the importance and authority achieved by the Oratorians in the city.