Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 27



At the same time, Leoni refers to contemporary models, with
Michelangelo once again a fundamental source of inspiration
(fig. 12). While sculptures with religious iconography (excepting
the great Escorial altarpiece) are a rarity in Leoni’s oeuvre,
documents reveal that his son Pompeo, once settled in Madrid,
executed several Crucifixions for the Spanish market. This small
bronze, probably intended for private devotion, may have been
produced for one Leoni’s prominent imperial patrons.17
Towards the end of the sixteenth century the idealized,
This expressive mode, intersecting with Neapolitan medical
classical style espoused by the newly formed art academies in
and anatomical studies, culminates in Luca Giordano’s
Florence and Rome was challenged by the revolutionary work
Apollo and Marsyas of the 1660s (cat. no. 15). Portraying the
of Caravaggio. Several of the paintings in current collection
moment immediately preceding Marsyas’s flaying, Giordano
disclose a profound debt to this artist’s legacy and reveal how
simultaneously recalls and departs from the images of violence by
his dramatically innovative visual language appealed to an
the Spanish-Neapolitan artist, Jusepe de Ribera; these, according
international market. Orazio Gentileschi’s Crowning with Thorns
to Edward Payne, imply the making and unmaking of bodies
(ca. 1615, cat. no. 12) recalls Caravaggio’s Flagellation (fig. 13)
in “the intersecting experiences of suffering, execution and
in the closely cropped composition, the sculptural rendition
spectatorship.” 20 In contrast, Giordano’s pictorial reconciliation
of anatomy, and the preoccupation with physical suffering,
of Apollo’s idealized beauty with the imminent horror of his
emphasized by twisted limbs and muscular torsions. Nonetheless,
punishment betrays the painter’s fascination with mythology and
parting from Caravaggio’s dramatic use of chiaroscuro, the
shows the influence of Peter Paul Rubens. An example in this
canvas is characterized by a cooler palette and brighter lighting,
stylistic shift is offered by another painting by this artist formerly
distinctive features of Florentine (but also Flemish) Caravaggism.
with Colnaghi, the Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite, executed in
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Eberhard Keilhau’s
the late 1650s (fig. 14).21 Replacing Caravaggesque scientifically-
newly discovered Taking of Christ (cat. no. 13), with its frieze-like
exact anatomies with sensuous nudes, “Luca fa presto”
composition, shows a more diluted relationship with Merisi’s
inaugurated a fully Baroque, exuberant artistic idiom.
18
authority, mediated through Guercino, but combined with
bravura brushwork typical of the Genoese masters Gioacchino
Fig. 13. Caravaggio, Flagellation, ca. 1607, oil on canvas, 286 x 213 cm, Naples,
Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte.
Assereto and Bernardo Strozzi.
Fig. 12. Michelangelo, Crucifixion, ca. 1556, black chalk and white lead,
41 x 27.8 cm, London, British Museum.
Caravaggio’s powerful synthesis of Antiquity, Michelangelo’s
Ignudi, and dal vivo-posed models in the representation of
naked bodies, inaugurated a prolific period of thematic and
compositional experimentation.19 A new addition to the oeuvre
of Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, the Drunkenness of Noah (cat. no.
14), challenges the boundaries of decorum with its protagonist
diagonally foreshortened across the foreground, exposing his
anatomically-impeccable nudity – rendered by the artist with
precise brushstrokes and dramatic lighting – to his sons’ disgust.
26
Fig. 14. Luca Giordano,
Triumph of Neptune and
Amphitrite, ca. 1658, oil on
canvas, 175.5 x 315 cm,
Private Collection.
27

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