(San Matteo della Decima 1734- Bologna 1802)
VISION OF SAINT ANTONY OF PADUA
Oil on canvas. 141 x 114 cm.
Drawing in charcoal and white chalk on paper. 27 x 20 cm.
The Virgin Mary sitting on a blanket of clouds in an interior whose impressive column qualifies as a church, is indicating by her left hand the lily, symbol of the Saint purity, held by the angel; Child Jesus is gently leaning towards the Saint while resting his foot on the Liber Miraculorum.
The Saint, semi kneeling, with gorgeous hands in the drawing, crossed on the chest, expresses in his face and pose, more than devotion, a certain emotion for the miraculous appearance in terms of deep and composed trepidation. His feeling is far from the pathetic emphasis that distinguishes such representations made by his great masters, Guercino above all, and invalidates the rendering of similar paintings of that period. It is a psychologically convincing reading of what the painter wanted to share with the observer, the ecstatic upset experienced by the protagonist. Finally, the angel, the beautiful angel, whose wing is shadowing his face without preventing us from reading his kind and calm expression while turning his glance at the Virgin. Everything is surrounded by an atmosphere of absolute calm, far from the pathetic and devoted that could be expected from a representation of a mystical ecstasy; no ardor, no vehemence to disturb, the incomparable simplicity of the encounter. This reveals the extraordinary critical conscience of the author, to whom we owe the awareness of the urge to cover a new form of reasoning of ancient cults, ancient stories.
Such patience and style of painting lead us to date back the work to the late years of Gaetano Gandolfi ‘s activity, when he competes himself for the last time with the tradition of the fathers, and pours into paintings we do not hesitate to define masterpieces, such as The Institution of the Eucharist of San Lorenzo in Budrio,
The transfiguration of Christ, of the Cathedral in Forlì, The San Leonardo da Porto Maurizo freeing an obsessed of Bologna, Saint Bartholomew Church, Beverara.
The altarpiece in question, is related to these mentioned paintings for its intelligence of invention and balance of performance, which is accompanied, from the beginning, by the preparatory drawing, very elegant proof of the graphic ability of the artist who was one of the best European drawers of his age.
We finally point out that the painting is still in the original frame called Gandolfina because was specially created for the works of members of Gandolfi family.
A critical sheet by Professor Donatella Biagi Maino accompanies the two works and this text is an abstract of it.
Price upon request
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