R.A.H. (againstathorn) wrote,

Alessandro Magnasco - The Catechism in the Cathedral of Milan c. 1725-30

Upon my first visit to an art museum, I pride myself on being able to identify the artist behind any given work on display. Most of the time, I’m dead wrong. “You fool! That’s a Tintoretto, not an El Greco!” Admittedly, this a silly exercise considering that artists through the ages had worked in a variety of styles other than which they’re most commonly associated with. Still, it bums me out when, for example, I mistake a Francisco de Zurbarán for a Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Oh well, at least I didn’t have it confused with a Jusepe de Ribera, because then I’d seriously have my 17th century Spanish painters all mixed up.

However, in this little fruitless guessing game of artworks and creators, there are a few freebees which I can always count on—the Fragonards, the Ivan Albrights, and the Alessandro Magnascos.

Wait—Alessandro who?


Object link: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/104478.html?mulR=1921255321|3

Alessandro Magnasco was an Italian Late-Baroque painter, active in Milan and Genoa, who worked in a very fanciful style of all his own, which I’d describe as both expressionate and sublime. I’ve never seen anything like it. Grotesque and elongated, his human figures are rendered on canvas as if they were mere ornaments.

Equally bizarre are his depictions of interior and landscape settings. Noting his slightly off-balance arches and pillars, Magnasco wasn’t exactly Hubert Robert when it came to drafting architectural elements, but such quirks lend a wild, organic atmosphere to his scenes. Also, his portrayal of nature, with untameable foliage and tempestuous waters, makes me worryful for his steadfast monks studying in the wilderness.

For this entry I’ve selected his Catechism in the Cathedral of Milan, now located in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There’s nothing significant I’d like to add about this piece other than it perfectly showcases the style of his work. It's a wonderful painting and I love the dreary palette of browntones.

But yeah, amidst a gallery of Baroque paintings, I can always single out the Magnacso!
Tags: art for the month of june
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