Pietro Testa, Achilles Dragging Hector's Corpse Around the Walls of Troy, (1645-50),
plate: 26.3 x 41.6, sheet: 27.5 x 42.0 cm, etching, reg. no. 1986.2001,
purchased 1986, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne.
The exhibition Radicals, slayers and villains will be a major attraction at the University’s biennial Cultural Treasures Festival in July 2014. The exhibition will then travel to venues in regional Victoria.
Radicals, slayers and villains shows controversial figures from history that have challenged the status-quo and helped shape our world. The striking imagery of these works is captured by seminal artists including Dürer, Goya and Rembrandt. The artists in the exhibition have been instrumental in the development of Western art and the universal theme of the individual and his or her role in society is illustrated through these extraordinarily powerful works. The exhibition has wide appeal through its representation of themes, such as the place and role of the individual in society, the depiction of the human figure, the impact of violence, and death. The often violent imagery depicted in the ‘slayers’ component of the exhibition presented great appeal to artists working from the Renaissance onwards, and inherent in these images is their capacity to shock and inspire awe in contemporary audiences with their lethal armoury of brutal and savage capabilities. The depiction of the human figure is equally arresting in the group of works categorised as ‘villains’, which shows supernatural skeletons bringing death, hybrid fiends, demons, criminals and evil animals all conspiring to throw our existence into turmoil.