Monday, February 22, 2016


Room XXVIII - Painting in Rome in the Early 1700s

“Luti painted scenes of great miracles, as was then customary, but he underlined the nicely narrative tone, almost a historical document. The monumentality of the scene is scaled down by the soft and clear paint, typical of the rococo grace” (Official Web Site Barberini Gallery -
Four paintings “Allegory of the four parts of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa and America“ about 1709
Models for the mosaics in the spandrels of the vestibule of the Baptistry Chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter eventually executed only in the years 1724/26
The presence in the Baptistry Chapel of the representation of the four continents known at the time is symbolic of the desire on the part of the Catholic Church to spread throughout the world the saving power of the Sacrament of Baptism
“The Venetian Pietro Ottoboni (1667/1740) was a patron of artists, musicians and writers. (...) Despite the wealth of his office, his munificence was such to find himself burdened with debts incurred for his patronage. (...) He was also the chief patron and client of Trevisani, so much so that in 1698 he gave him accommodation in the Palace of the Chancellery and appointed him as his Primo Pittore (First Painter)” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
Beautiful and sensual “Mary Magdalene” about 1725, represented here with almost theatrical flamboyance by Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746) from Istria
“Strong charge of monumentality, enhanced by the quite unusual framing, almost three quarters, which sheds light on both the face and the nude and sensual body of the saint, emerging from the shadows of the rocky background. (...) Pathetic yearning of theatrical taste, much appreciated by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, Trevisani patron and protector of the Arcadia” (Anna Lo Bianco)
“The large portrait of the Quarantotti family, signed and dated 1756 on the pillar on the left, celebrated their son preacher in distant lands, surrounded by family members dressed in exotic way, in an atmosphere eccentric and suspended. The picture, in addition to expressing the spreading of passion for the Orient, is a polished piece of realism, anticipating Goya. But it's good to know that it was Goya himself, in his sojourn in Rome in 1770, to copy a Benefial work in his notebook, the Expulsion from Garden of Eden - shown here - clearly aware of the innovative power of the paintings by this artist” (Official website of the Barberini Gallery -
“The stories of Hercules and Omphale and of Pyramus and Thisbe are united by a reference to love as a passion that goes beyond human reason. They depict, in fact, Hercules ranking as a maid and giving his club, a symbol of virility, to the queen Omphale of Lydia, enslaved by love, and Thisbe who kills herself in front of the body of the beloved Pyramus, who, in turn, committed suicide believing that she had been torn by a wild beast” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
Sketch for “St. Margaret of Cortona finds the corpse of her lover” in the Church of S. Maria in Aracoeli, all works by the great Roman painter Marco Benefial (1684/1764)
“The freshness of the sketch summarizes in a more immediate way than the finished painting the scene of the discovery (...) with the contrast between the pathetic attitude of the saint, the humorous note of the dog and the raw description of the corpse, boldly foreshortened and placed in foreground, featuring a detailed study of the nude, which in the final canvas will be hidden by the branches and not so obvious. The figures placed in relief with the use of light testify, among the numerous sources used by Benefial, even a study of the Caravaggio's followers” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Miracle of St. Joseph of Copertino” by Placido Costanzi (1702/59)
In this curious scene the patron saint of test takers, accustomed to levitate during his ecstasies, heals the young nobleman Baldassarre Rossi who had gone crazy all of a sudden, grabbing him by the hair and lifting him off the ground with him
The philological accuracy in representing the clothes of the previous century is remarkable
“The sketch shows a remarkable fluidity and virtuosity of touch as evidence of a development process of the finished work, leading Mancini to give precedence to formal discipline over the urgency of pictorial expression, in a work of mental construction of the work that is to be found in other cases, of which the most famous is Canova, in the proto-neoclassical and neoclassical culture” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Madonna reading” by the Frenchman Pierre Subleyras (1699/1749)
“Intimately engaged in the widespread movement of return to nature and antiquity, his noble but lively classicism was undoubtedly the most worthy of that label. Alien to the exaggerated gestures of Baroque characters, or to the excessive affectation of late Maratta taste, he was all aimed at a balanced composition and a conciseness of volumes, favoring the opposition of masses of color, always based on a few essential tones, with a predominance of large and picturesque expanses of white” (Giancarlo Sestieri)
Sketches for the oval commissioned by Pope Clement XI Albani (1700/21) in 1718 for the central nave of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
He commissioned eleven more ovals, all with prophets, to the leading painters in Rome at that time. Sebastiano Conca chose the version with the angel points to the cross
“Portrait of Sir Robert Clive, Baron of Plassey” 1766 by Anton von Maron (1733/1808)
“It wants to be a celebration of the high position of the English nobleman, governor of Bengal from 1757 to 1760, and is set in the tradition of the courtly portrait, but it also becomes a representation, of outstanding effect and unique in its kind, of British power in the colonies. The subjugation of the indigenous with turban, caught while the Governor is issuing rules, wants to allude to the civilizing role of the colonial power, while the curtains in the background hint at the military role of the governor. (...) He had a bitter fate: after his return to England he was subjected to a parliamentary inquiry into his conduct in the colonies. He managed to be acquitted of the charge of corruption, but he took his own life in 1774 for a depression caused by his opium's vice” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Portrait of Count Niccolò Soderini” by the great Pompeo Batoni from Lucca (1708/87)
Count Soderini was the Tuscan consul in Rome and the dedicated patron of the Roman painter Marco Benefial

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