Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 18

New light on Cecco Bravo, a Medici painter of mythology and landscape
New light on Cecco Bravo, a Medici painter of mythology and landscape
The figures are immersed in a landscape made up
of trees painted in broad parallel curves, similar to
those in the drawings of Stefano della Bella (fig. 6).
Beyond the receding river in the distance is a mill
with large paddles, masterfully rendered with touches
of white, as are the boatman who dips his oar in the
water and the swallows flying across the sky. The
way in which the spinone on the far right is painted
– its “skeleton” rendered with great economy in a
few bold brushstrokes – is strikingly modern. Cecco’s
authorship is also evident in the figure of the peasant,
his facial features (so typical of the artist) concealed
below the wide-brimmed hat as he strains to carry his,
or maybe his master’s, bag.
The copper support intensifies the red of the beret
and blue of the cloak of the gentleman, who recalls
the elongated figures of Cecco’s master Bilivert,
albeit executed with an energy redolent of Filippo
Napoletano and Jacques Callot. The light palette and
obvious affinities with the Wedding of Venus and Vulcan
would suggest a dating for the work to the end of the
1630s, shortly before a pair of stylistically comparable
panels in a private collection (figs. 7 & 8). A dating
to the 1640s should, however, be advanced for the
Landscape with Figures on canvas in the Philadelphia
Museum of Art (fig. 9), a work that is difficult to
imagine Cecco painting without having seen in person
the shadowy and dramatic landscapes painted by
Rosa in Florence from the 1640s onwards.
Fig. 7 / Cecco Bravo,
Landscape, Private Collection.
Fig. 8 / Cecco Bravo,
Landscape, Private Collection.
Fig. 9 / Cecco Bravo,
Landscape with Figures,
ca. 1635-1640, oil on canvas,
79.7 x 62.2 cm, Philadelphia,
The Philadelphia Museum
of Art.
Returning to the Wedding of Venus and Vulcan, it is
important to emphasize, in conclusion, the originality
of Cecco Bravo’s interpretation of the subject. This
attests to the exceptional skills of the artist as a
narrator-composer of stories, fully immersed as he was
in the world of theatre, as indeed were the majority of
his fellow artists in Florence at the time.


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