Palazzo Altemps is putting on a major retrospective, telling the artistic story of a key figure in 20th-century painting: Luigi Filippo Tibertelli de Pisis, a painter from Ferrara, known as Filippo de Pisis (Ferrara, May 11, 1896 – Brugherio, April 2, 1956).

This wonderful exhibition was designed specifically for the spaces of the National Roman Museum of Palazzo Altemps, home to a major collection of ancient sculptures since the days of Cardinal Marco Altemps.

This is a true honor for our artist, considering that Rome was essential to his education. Filippo de Pisis was a great collector of antiques, precious manuscripts, and curios and bibelot of all kinds.

As he wrote himself in the Memoirs of the Marquis Painter in 1928, “little talismans that followed him from room to room, from city to city.” It’s no coincidence that the poetics of the fragment and ancient finds are found in many paintings shown in the exhibition.

Filippo de Pisis was a devoted traveler. In addition to Rome, he lived and worked in Milan, Venice, Cadore, and, significantly, Paris and London. These experiences helped him create his personal narrative, never dictated by artistic trends. As a botanist and butterfly collector, he also took long treks around his native Ferrara, where during World War I, he met and spent time with Giorgio de Chirico and his brother Alberto Savinio. Alberto especially spurred him to apply himself in drawing and painting in a famous quote, “Instead of chasing butterflies, chase your talent.”

Instead of chasing butterflies, chase your talent by Savinio
Instead of chasing butterflies, chase your talent




Interesting fact: for the inauguration of the De Pisis exhibition in Milan in the Museum of the ‘900, an installation of moving butterflies was projected on the façade of the Arengario building.

De Pisis won the Premio Roma 1951 for his painting “Portrait di Colette,” a work full of corrections and second thoughts. This was one of several awards that Filippo de Pisis received over his career because his extraordinary talent was immediately recognized. As we stroll through the lovely, orderly rooms of Palazzo Altemps, we find in a prime position the paintings depicting ancient ruins and classical sculptures. This is followed by an impressive selection of drawings with an extensive series of nude youths, evoking the statues of antiquity, masterpieces displayed in the Museum. It was an apparently difficult task to forge a dialogue between the durable, perfect forms of ancient marbles dialogue and the fragile drawings on paper, but the results are fascinating.

Filippo de Pisis at Palazzo Altemps and his sailor
Ludovisi Gaul in marble and De Pisis’s fragile drawing of a portrait of a sailor




A surprising series of references and evocations are triggered between the tragic face of the Ludovisi Gaul Killing Himself in marble, and de Pisis’s fragile drawing of a portrait of a sailor.






I’ll leave you with a fascinating fact: the current municipal hall of the town of Brugherio is called Villa Fiorita. It was once a clinic for nervous diseases. It was here, from 1949 to 1956, that Filippo de Pisis, the painter from Ferrara, was a guest and used the building’s greenhouse, now called Serra de Pisis, as a studio.

Filippo de Pisis catalog by Electa
A great monograph by Electa

These are just some of the wonderful surprises awaiting you when visiting this beautiful exhibition of Filippo de Pisis. The exquisite treasure trove of the National Roman Museum of Palazzo Altemps hosting it will complete your experience.

Filippo de Pisis
National Roman Museum 
Palazzo Altemps
03th April 2020 to 20th September 2020