Secessioni Europee – European Secessions, The wave of Modernity


If you’re an art lover you have a great occasion until January 21 2018. To admire about 200 artworks of four European Secessions (Secessioni Europee), coming from several important museums (Klimt Foundation, Villa Stuck, Prague Narodni Gallery), together on display for the first time: Munich, Vienna, Prague and Rome. Where? At Palazzo Roverella, a beautiful palace in the centre of Rovigo. The exhibition is Secessioni Europee, L’onda della Modernità (European Secessions, The wave of Modernity), promoted by Fondazione Cariparo

Me among Anastasia and Anna of TravelonArt
Me among Anastasia and Anna of TravelonArt

In 40 minutes from Padua or 1 hour from Venice by train, you can reach Rovigo. A little bit more by car. Rovigo is a less known city of the Veneto region, but it is worth a detour. The relaxed atmosphere, like a big village, the people sitting at cafès, the elegant piazzas will surely be an occasion to discover genuine local life.

What is an Art Secession?

The term Secession comes from the Latin and refers to common folk protesting against the patricians for equal right. So it means protest.

Well, at the end of 1800, in several european cities, some young artist were tired of the old artistic institutions, their rules, their restrictions, their taste, too distant from the one of the new generations. Their aim was that of renew classical style and researching a new way of expression. Their motto?

Every era and its art, every art and its freedom.

This freedom meant also a big difference of results among its members and you will see it at the exhibition. Next to innovative paintings, there are expressions of a more traditional art, still connected to the impressionism.


The first important secession took place in Munich. Franz von Stuck was one of the promoters. By the way, I love von Stuck, I also visited his beautiful house in Munich.

He rebelled against the National Exposition of 1891, where the paintings were amassed all together with no respect and consideration. Hence the protest. An important concept for the Secessionists was the will to give importance to all kinds of art: painting, sculpture, goldsmithing, decorations. In fact, just to make an example, many paintings’ frames are a work of art per se.

Breathtaking his Medusa and also Lucifer. I also liked Strathmann painting of Maria, very decorative and far from the traditional religious painting.


The most famous of the Secessions is the Viennese secession, whose protagonists are, among the others, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. The Viennese movement gave life to some of my favourite paintings and palaces, such as the Secession seat in Vienna and the beautiful works of Klimt.

Ver Sacrum was the name of Vienna Secession periodical
Ver Sacrum was the name of Vienna Secession periodical

At the exhibition you can see Friends by Klimt, also by Klimt a portrait that reminded me of Nicole Kidman in Portrait of a Lady, Schiele’s alluring drawings and a beautiful Miracle of the Roses by Wilhelm List.


The Prague movement had the name of Sursum and its artists are characterized by a visionary expressionism with a strong graphic component. The mind and its mysteries, the spiritual world, myths and tales are a common topic. After all, Prague has been always considered a magical city. I loved many of the works, especially  the black and white engravings, drawings and the colorful works by Vàchal. And what to say about Chopin Nocturne by Adàmek? Ah, amazing! The litography represents the hand of a pianist playing a Nocturne. While the man plays, mist spirits raise all around, led by the magic of Chopin’s music.

Vàchal surprising paintings
Vàchal surprising paintings


The Roman secession is a bit of a latecomer compared to the others (1910). It gathered a number of artists, who aimed to distance themselves from the Academies. But here’s the big contradiction: they refused also the Futurists, too modern for them.

Ercole Drei Dancer
Ercole Drei Dancer

My experience at the Secessioni Europee exhibit

I loved the exhibition. First of all, our tour guide Alessia was super nice. Calm and sweet, she gave us a full picture of the exhibition, focusing on the highlights, without lingering too much. This allowed us to understand the movements without “getting lost” or bored. A guide or the audio guide (which is included in the entrance fee) is recommended.

Moreover I love that period in art history, particularly the Austrian artworks. I love the color nuances they used, the sensual figures, the evocative images and their mysterious allure.

Admiring Klimt at Secessioni Europee exhibit
Admiring Klimt at Secessioni Europee exhibit

The Prague Secession was a surprise. I liked its enigmatic atmosphere. In Italian I would use the word conturbante, which means half way between disturbing and seductive. Do you have such a word? Please, teach me, I couldn’t find a proper translation!

Secessions opened the doors to modern art. But not only to that. They also broke the barriers of the exclusivism of art.

If you love art I suggest you a day trip to Rovigo to visit the exhibition. Right in front of Palazzo Roverella, you can visit to the Pinacoteca dell’Accademia dei Concordi at Palazzo Roncale (free admission). It can be interesting for art lovers, because it host paintings by great masters like Titian, Tintoretto, Giovanni Bellini, Tiepolo. Another suggestion is to visit Villa Badoer (20 minutes by car).

The miracle of roses by Wilhelm List
The miracle of roses by Wilhelm List

Secessioni Europee, L’onda della Modernità

Palazzo Roverella, Rovigo

Until January 21, 2018

Opening hours

Monday – Friday 9am – 7pm
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays 9am – 8pm

Ticket 12€ (including audio guide) – reduced 10€

Warning: the exhibit is accessible to people in wheelchair but not to strollers. Inside the exhibit rooms the temperature is a bit cold to create the right climate for the works. So you should consider taking your coat with you.

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