Introduction to the exhibition

This exhibition's objective is the re-discovery of an important Flemish artist, well-known in the past but inexplicably forgotten by contemporary critics. This is maybe due to the fact that the Residenz in Munich suffered war devastation, and consequently many of Candido's works of art were destroyed. Pietro Candido worked in Florence, Volterra and Munich, where he achieved a leading role amongst the artists at the court of the Dukes of Bavaria.

Pieter de Witte, later known in Italy as Pietro Candido, was born in Bruges around about 1548. Four years later his family moved to Florence, where his father Pietro di Elia, a "professional tapestry-worker", had been called by the Flemish master Jan Rost to work in the Medici's tapestry workshop. In Florence, he underwent a long and important apprenticeship of which unfortunately we have little information. It is probable that he carried out his training under the guidance of Giambologna who later recommended him to the Duke of Bavaria. In those same years in Florence the presence of another two artists, probably brothers of the painter, is documented: Elia di Pietro Candido, author of a small bronze sculpture signed and dated 1573, representing Boreas, made for the study of Francesco de'Medici in Palazzo Vecchio; and Cornelius de Witte or Candido, a soldier of the guard of the Grand Duke, and a refined painter of landscapes.

From Florence Pietro Candido, who joined the Academy of the Art of Drawing in 1576, went to Volterra where he painted three large altarpieces, one for the Cathedral (The Presentation of the Town of Volterra to the Virgin by its Patron Saints – 1578) and two, in the 1580s, for the Badia of San Giusto and Clemente (The Adoration of the Shepherds – 1580 – and the Lament over the lifeless Christ – 1585) commissioned by local notables.

In 1583, he returned to Florence after a period in Rome. Here he became an Academic of the Art of Drawing and, in 1585 he painted the fresco entitled "Madonna and Child between the Saints Niccolò and Girolamo", on a lunette over the entrance to the oratory of San Niccolò del Ceppo. In 1586 he depicted the "Portrait of Giuliano de'Medici, Duke of Nemours", which is part of the so called Courtly Series of Portraits of Well-Known Princes, commissioned by Grand Duke Francesco de'Medici in order to decorate the Corridor of the newly born Uffizi Gallery. On July 26th 1586, he was already in Munich, in the service of Duke William V.

Pietro Candido lived in Munich for 42 years, initially in the service of William V and later, from 1602 to 1628 in the service of Maximilian I. At the Wittelsbach court he displayed his talent in many different works, from wall decoration to preliminary cartoons for tapestries and sculptures, from portraits to imposing altarpieces in the city churches.

This exhibition has provided the opportunity to gather together and present the most important phases of the entire production of this Flemish painter, by exhibiting precious and very particular works of art that are at the same time truly fascinating, coming from museums all over Europe and from the Residenz itself. It is a unique artistic event which has the benefit of the modern techniques used in the examination of works of art, allowing investigation of the background designs of the imposing altarpieces in Volterra.

This forthcoming exhibition does not display only works of art by Pieter de Witte but also extraordinary works of art by other contemporary artists who influenced his artistic production. This event gives visitors the opportunity to admire paintings, sculptures, tapestries and drawings which outline the cosmopolitan artistic culture of the second half of the 1500s.