‘Sopranos’ actor Castelluccio unveils Guercino masterpiece at Princeton

Il Guercino (1591-1666), 'Saint Sebastian,' circa 1632-1634. Image courtesy of Federico Castelluccio

Il Guercino (1591-1666), ‘Saint Sebastian,’ circa 1632-1634. Image courtesy of Federico Castelluccio


PRINCETON, N.J. – Federico Castelluccio, the actor/artist/collector who recently discovered a Guercino masterpiece half-length Saint Sebastian, circa 1632-1634, will now exhibit the painting at the Princeton University Art Museum as a special installation, this week through late January. This will mark the first time this painting has ever been on public view in the United States.

Castelluccio’s painting is one of only three genuine Guercino half-length Saint Sebastians in the world. The other two are at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Ponce Museum in Puerto Rico, with his being the earliest of the three. Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Il Guercino (1591–1666), was one of the leading protagonists of 17th century Italian Baroque painting.

Through his amazingly well-trained eye and gut instinct, Castelluccio, a savvy art collector and connoisseur, discovered this long-lost masterpiece in a small auction house in Frankfurt, Germany. Over the last 25 years, he has amassed an impressive collection of museum quality Old Master paintings and drawings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries from his travels all over Europe and from auctions and private dealers.

He brought the Guercino home to New York and began a three-year process of extensive research to determine the painting’s lineage, while also having various chemical analysis, infrared reflectography and x-radiography done, with top conservators doing the restoration work. Also during this time, the Guercino was authenticated by leading Guercino experts David Stone and Nicholas Turner.

Last year, Castelluccio, who is an accomplished Contemporary Realist painter, as well as being a well-known actor who co-starred on HBO’s The Sopranos, was approached by the Cosso Foundation and the Miradolo Castle museum in Torino, Italy. They asked to borrow his Guercino for their “Saint Sebastian: Beauty and Integrity in Art Between the 15th and the 17th Centuries” exhibit, which ran from October 2014 through March, 2015. This was the first time the painting was on public view anywhere in over 350 years.

Castelluccio brought the masterpiece home in late March and, shortly thereafter was contacted by Princeton about the possibility of exhibiting the painting in the U.S. for the first time. It will now grace the walls of the Princeton University Art Museum through January 2016.

“This is an exciting recent discovery of a work by one of the Baroque period’s great masters, an artist known for the vigorous luminosity of his brushwork. We’re delighted to bring it to Princeton to give scholars and visitors an opportunity to consider it in the context of a fine collection of Baroque art, and what it brings to our understanding of the artist,” said James Steward, director at Princeton University Art Museum.

For more information contact the Princeton Museum of Art at 609-258-3788 or visit http://artmuseum.princeton.edu .