Giovan Battista Gaulli, called il Baciccio (Genoa 1639-1709 Rome) Saint Anthony in prayer, oil on canvas, 99.5 x 73.5 cm, framed ÜBERLANGTEXT
acquired in 1860 by Sylvestre Savy;
thence by descent;
art market, France;
where acquired by the present owner
We are grateful to Francesco Petrucci for confirming the attribution of the present painting and for his help in cataloguing this lot.
The present painting is a significant addition to the oeuvre of Giovan Battista Gaulli. The Genoese painter, named il Baciccio in Rome, was an artist favoured by Bernini, protected by the popes and considered to be one of the most important figures of late Roman Baroque art. His work had a fundamental influence on the development of eighteenth-century painting.
Gaulli distinguished himself as one of the great portraitists of the seventeenth century, having portrayed all the popes from Alexander VII to Clement XI, many cardinals and princes, managing to give his models a rare sense of truth and psychological depth. In addition, he painted altarpieces and was a proficient picture gallery painter with works in the major patrician collections, from the Chigi, Altieri, Colonna, Pamphilij, Ottoboni, Rospigliosi and Spinola families, to the collections of Louis XIV.
The emphasis on a careful handling of paint, with clearly defined brushstrokes and outlines, together with the abandonment of the sfumato, place the present painting in the late maturity of the artist, probably around the last decade of the seventeenth century. The skillful modulation of light that characterises the face of the saint, the careful, meticulous depiction of the hair on his beard and the gradation of light are accompanied by an intense depth of expression, create a sense of moving sentimental pietism, in line with the devotional mysticism of the culture of the time.
As in other works by Baciccio, the influence of the sculptures of Bernini are clearly visible in this work. The painter reinterpreted Bernini’s work, such as the Doctors of the Church in the Chair of Saint Peter in the Vatican Basilica (1600-03).
They also collaborated together in one of Bernini’s later works, the Altieri Chapel in San Francesco da Ripa, Rome where Baciccio painted the altarpiece. Later Bernini, as well as promoting Baciccio to the General of the Jesuits, Father Giovan Paolo Oliva, and obtaining for him the commission, acted as consultant in the decoration of the church of Il Gesù, the most spectacular illusionistic composition of Roman Baroque, decorated by Baciccio between 1673 and 1683.
A clear suggestion, also present in other works by Baciccio can be seen in the relationship with various half-figures of saints by Guido Reni, an artist much admired by the painter, such as the Saint Peter in pentitence in the Doria Pamphilij Gallery, Rome and Saint Peter in Ecstasy in the Prado, Madrid and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (inv. no. Gemäldegalerie 243).
Lieu et date de la vente Maîtres Anciens chez Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
Palais Dorotheum, Dorotheergasse 17 1010 Vienne
10 novembre 2021
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