by Rosanna Nobilitato
In classical Latin and Greek culture, the shell symbolises prosperity, birth (as we see in Piero della Francesca’s Sacred Conversation exhibited at the Brera Museum in Milan), fertility, mother’s womb and the origin of Venus, created from foam and brought to shore on top of a shell (as the sublime Botticelli portrayed her wearing only her immortal beauty). The shell represents life, resurrection, spiritual purification linked to baptism (rebirth in grace), and pilgrimage (journey of purification).
A profoundly spiritual theme that is interpreted by Alfredo Luxoro – a Genoese artist active from the second half of the Nineteenth century to the beginning of the Twentieth century – with a sensual perception. He developed such theme with passionate lyricism and natural brightness in a large canvas that participated in the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Rome in 1883 with the title “The Shell”.
An important early work that emphasises that his style, at first close to the truth of the Macchiaioli painting, is soon inspired by the Roman pictorial tradition, very much in vogue back then, characterised by a classically composed plasticism.