403 Views |  Like

Paint the colors and signs of the imagination

The sale of Old Masters and 19th Century Paintings on May 18 in the prestigious Genoese venue of Villa Carrega Cataldi, presents a selection of remarkable works from a historical and critical point of view, significant works for understanding the evolution of some authors, pictorial schools and genres.
Here we focus our attention on the two canvases by Sebastiano Ricci depicting the Massacre of the Innocents and Aeneas attacked by the Harpies (lot 521, estimate 30,000 – 50,000 euros), which represent not only an important addition to the artist’s catalogue, but also document the style during his stay in Milan between 1694 and 1696, after his experiences in Bologna and a fruitful stay in Rome. These were the years in which the painter began the fresco decoration of the dome of San Bernardino alle Ossa, created the altarpiece of the Guardian Angel destined for the Carmine church in Pavia and the large canvas in the Cathedral of Monza, also undertaking a stylistic dialogue with Alessandro Magnasco (Genoa, 1667 – 1749). A fundamental piece to understand and clarify the creative aspects and the contiguity between the two masters, in which an even more emphatic involvement in composing prevails, placing the protagonists in the foreground and describing them with vigorous brushstrokes and an effective direction of light, whose dark flavor is reminiscent of the creations of Langetti and Zanchi which was also widespread in Milan by the works of Paolo Pagani. We can also say that the meeting with Lissandrino dramatises Ricci’s journey, especially from an expressive point of view, but at the same time, it offers the colleague to measure himself against history painting and a more complex narrative and scenic pace. This can be observed in the canvas of the same subject created by Magnasco during the first decade of the eighteenth century, which attests not only an illustrative affinity, but also the preponderant influence of Ricci in directing.
The auction also sees a precious choice of still lifes, among which we point out the beautiful Still life with musical instruments by Bartolomeo Bettera (lot 525, estimate 30,000 – 50,000 euros), one of the best known specialists in depicting musical instruments in relation to the fellow countryman Evaristo Baschenis, in which “the chromatic and luministic quality of the pictorial film gives way with difficulty to that of the leader” updating the lexicon with a Baroque illustrative logic and a comparison not only with northern European painting, but also with the still lifes from Roman parade.
We also point out the altarpiece by Antonio De Bellis, together with Viviano Codazzi and Antonio de Michele depicting the Probatic Pool (lot 423, estimate 30,000 – 50,000 euros), and the Caravaggesque Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Massimo Stanzione (lot 506, estimate 60,000 – 80,000 euros), a rare early work by the artist created between 1625 and 1630 when he is documented in Rome or recently returned to his homeland and which marks the focal point of the rare known works of the Roman period and the very early Thirties.
Three works are worth mentioning in the selective section dedicated to 19th century works.
The first is a large canvas from 1853 by the Neapolitan Domenico Morelli depicting Cesare Borgia in Capua which fully expresses his more personal and free style capable of harmoniously combining realism and late romanticism (lot 543, estimate 40,000 – 60,000 euros).
The second is the Portrait of a Venetian noblewoman by Eugenio de Blass from 1876 (lot 541, estimate 26,000 – 28,000 euros). The protagonists of his paintings are the main characters of daily life in Venice and the Venetian lagoon, depicted with a refinement and a gentle malice, albeit anecdotal, from which the artist’s rare descriptive ability emerges. In the painting the grace and elegance of the composition emerges and are fully revealed in the delicate play of shadows on the angelic face of the woman. Her skin is porcelain-coloured, her gaze is alluring and mischievous, the figure is flooded with a light in contrast with the dark background, highlighting the richness of the dress with elaborate decorations and therefore the excellent pictorial ability of De Blaas.
The third is a bronze by Paolo Troubetzkoy depicting a bowler (lot 553, estimate 3,500 – 4,500 euros), where his very personal style emerges, characterized by a nervous impressionism. Admirable animalist and acute scholar of human physiognomy, the artist returns with rare effectiveness the expressiveness of the faces and the illusion of the movement of the figures he portrayed.