Maccagno con Pino e Veddasca - Saturday, 20 July 2024

T The Exhibits

The Great Lake

The Great Lake
A tribute to Lake Maggiore in European literature and art (The Age of Travel)

2 JULY 2022 - 23 OCTOBER 2022
Friday 15.00 - 19.00
Saturday and Sunday 10.00 - 12.00 / 15.00 - 19.00
"Night at the museum": Saturday 16, 23 and 30 July / 6 and 13 August 20.30 - 23.00

Inauguration: Saturday 2 July at 5.30 pm

Press release

This exhibition intends to illustrate the homage that great European literature has rendered to the landscape of Lake Maggiore since the end of the 18th century, when the most sensitive minds were deeply impressed with the image of the lake thanks to first descriptions and early travel experiences. Once elected as a permanent destination on the Grand Tour of Italy due to the fame of Isola Bella and the Borromeo Gulf, Verbano attracted from afar with its landscapes halfway Mediterranean and Alpine, thus becoming an important element of Italy and its culture, both ancient and contemporary.
As early as 1776, Goethe chose it as the setting for several chapters of his novel Wilhelm Meister, even electing the lake as the birthplace of his main female character, Mignon. In the novel she sings a song about the 'land where lemons bloom', which would become one of the most popular poems ever dedicated to the entire Peninsula.
With his novel Titan (1800), Jean Paul Richter also contributed to create an image of Verbano as a genuine 'blessed country'.
Jean Paul Richter actually never visited the lake. And even Goethe, during his journey to Italy from 1786-88, never got there. They were both impressed with the descriptions in the most popular travel guides of the era. Their 'journey' to the lakeshores is thus an ideal one, driven by imagination and the wish to discover there the cradle of art, culture, individual and collective emotions and memories and describe it in their novels. This is why Goethe called Verbano the 'Great Lake'. Until the late 20th century their dream inspired cultivated minds: more than a hundred years later, Nobel Prize winner Gerhart Hauptmann chose Verbano as the location to celebrate the first centenary of Goethe’s death.
In the 19th and the 20th century, many - more or less famous - travellers explored the lake. The itinerary here suggested presents the literary pages by those authors who, in contrast with their time and upcoming modernity, were able to evoke the universal value of human experiences and contribute to creating the cultural scenario of Lake Maggiore: Stendhal, Chateaubriand, Dumas, Du Gard, Ruskin, Samuel Butler and, last but not least, Piero Chiara.
The proposed artistic itinerary gathers important examples of watercolours and pencil drawings mainly – with some exceptions - by foreign artists, for the first time in dialogue with the enchanting landscapes by some of the greatest masters of Italian Vedutism of the 19th and 20th century. In art, in literature and along its routes, by land and by water, the ‘Great Lake’ was, even in the Age of Travel, a melting pot for people coming from apparently distant worlds, yet united in creating a common identity of values.

This exhibition has been realised thanks to the meticulous studies on Lake Maggiore that have been published over decades by those who have always been moved by a true passion for this area.


Poster (click to enlarge)

Locandina Il Grande Lago

Opening time

15.00 - 19.00
Saturday and Sunday:
10.00 - 12.00 / 15.00 - 19.00

Where we are

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Civico Museo Parisi Valle
via Leopoldo Giampaolo 1
21061 Maccagno con Pino e Veddasca
tel. +039 0332 561202

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