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Alessandro Magnasco

Paintings

Garden Party in Albaro

The Catechism in the Cathedral of Milan

Bacchanalian Scene

Halt of the Brigands

Banditti at Rest

Washerwomen

Christ Adored by Two Nuns

Christ Served by the Angels

Raising of the Cross

Gypsy Wedding Banquet

A Hermit in a Grotto

Interrogations in Jail

Joseph Interprets the Dreams of the Pharaoh's Servants Whilst in Jail

Three Camaldolese Monks in Ecstatic Prayer

Three Camaldolese Monks in Meditative Prayer

Prayer of the Penitent Monks

Mountainous Landscape

Praying Monks

The Observant Friars in the Refectory

Sacrilegious Robbery

The Seashore

Entombment of a Soldier

Soldiers and Beggars

Market

Storm at the Sea


Drawings

Elijah in the Desert

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Famous Artists - Garden Party in Albaro by Alessandro Magnasco

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Alessandro Magnasco

Alessandro Magnasco (February 4, 1667 – March 12, 1749), also known as il Lissandrino, was an Italian late-Baroque painter active mostly in Milan and Genoa. He is best known for stylized, fantastic, often phantasmagoric genre or landscape scenes.

Biography

Born in Genoa to a minor artist, Stefano Magnasco, he apprenticed with Valerio Castello, and finally with Filippo Abbiati (1640–1715) in Milan. Except for 1703–09 (or 1709–11)[1] when working in Florence for the Grand Duke Cosimo III, Magnasco labored in Milan until 1735, when he returned to his native Genoa. Magnasco often collaborated with placing figures in the landscapes of Tavella and the ruins of Clemente Spera in Milan.


Mature style

After 1710, Magnasco excelled in producing small, hypochromatic canvases with eerie and gloomy landscapes and ruins, or crowded interiors peopled with small, often lambent and cartoonishly elongated characters. The people in his paintings were often nearly liquefacted beggars dressed in tatters, rendered in flickering, nervous brushstrokes. Often they deal with unusual subjects such as synagogue services, Quaker meetings, robbers' gatherings, catastrophes, and interrogations by the Inquisition. His sentiments regarding these subjects are generally unclear.

A century later he would be described as a romantic painter: who painted with candid touches, and ingenious expressiveness, little figures in Gothic churches; or in solitude, hermits and monks; or scoundrels assembled in town squares; soldiers in barracks.[2] The noted art historian and critic Luigi Lanzi described him as the Cerquozzi of his school; thereby signaling him into the circle of followers of the Bamboccianti. He indicates that Magnasco had figures scarcely more than a span large ... painted with humor and delight, but not as if this effect had been the intention of the painter. Lanzi indicates these eccentric pieces were favored by the Grand Duke Giovanni Gastone Medici of Florence.[3] Magnasco also found contemporary patronage for his work among prominent families and collectors of Milan, for example the Arese and Casnedi families of Milan.[4] This series of patrons underscores the fact that Magnasco was more esteemed by outsiders than by his fellow Genoese; as Lanzi noted, his bold touch, though joined to a noble conception and to correct drawing, did not attract in Genoa, because it is far removed from the finish and union of tints which (Genoese) masters followed.[5] In the twentieth century, Rudolf Wittkower derided him as solitary, tense, strange, mystic, ecstatic, grotesque, and out of touch with the triumphal course of the Venetian school from 1710 onward.[1]
Origins of his style

The influences on his work are obscure. Some suspect the influence of the loose painterly style of his Venetian contemporary Sebastiano Ricci (1659–1734), the Genoese Domenico Piola (1627–1703) and Gregorio de Ferrari, although the most prominent of the three, Ricci, painted in a more monumental and mythic style, and these artists may in fact have been influenced by Magnasco. Magnasco was likely influenced by Milanese il Morazzone (1573–1626) in the emotional quality of his work. Some of his canvases (see ill. (q.)) recall Salvatore Rosa's romantic sea-lashed landscapes, and his affinity for paintings of brigands. The diminutive scale of Magnasco's figures relative to the landscape is comparable to Claude Lorraine's more airy depictions. While his use of figures of ragged beggars has been compared with Giuseppe Maria Crespi's genre style, Crespi's figures are larger, more distinct, and individual, and it is possible that Crespi himself may have influenced Magnasco. Others point to the influences of late Baroque Italian genre painters, the Roman Bamboccianti, and in his exotic scenography, the well-disseminated engravings of the Frenchman Callot.
Legacy of his style

Magnasco's style is strikingly original and transcends the tired, academic Baroque that epitomized much of contemporary Genoese art. Ultimately, his work may have influenced Marco Ricci, Giuseppe Bazzani, Francesco Maffei, and the famed painters de tocco (by touch) Gianantonio and Francesco Guardi in Venice. But for these Rococo painters, the loose brush became a tool for frothy landscapes, capricious historical scenography, and decorative frolics, while for Magnasco, it seemed to have entrapped his reality in a gloomy cobweb.

His depictions of torture in The Inquisition (or perhaps named Interrogations in a Jail) and of other lowpoints of humanity seem to impart a modern perspicacity to his social vision, recalling that expressed by Spanish Goya in his 19th century etchings. And yet, as Wittkower notes, it remains unsolved "how much quietism or criticism or farce went into the making of his pictures".[1] It is unknown what his true sentiments about Jews and Quakers were. Were his paintings derogatory of those congregations, or do they express some intellectual fascination with what were considered exotic elements in the Italian mainstream? No clear documentary evidence exists. Magnasco, as an outsider, would have been excluded from a synagogue or Quaker service, and the non-individualized cartoons which populate those canvases can hardly be expected to garner personal sympathy. Elsewhere Magnasco painted miracles, including one canvas in which the Virgin Mary summons avenging skeletons out of their graves to fend off church-robbers. What insight one can garner about Jews or Quakers from Magnasco's paintings, like Macbeth's dialogue in the fog-ridden fen with the cauldron-stirring witches, is not clearly intelligible or in focus, being part-prescient and part ghoulishly confused.

Painting Dates Site
Gathering of Quakers 1695 Uffizi, Florence
Theodosius Repulsed from Church by St. Ambrose 1700-10 Art Institute of Chicago
Christ and Samaritan Woman 1705-10 Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Noli Me Tangere 1705-10 ibid
The Hunting Scene 1710 Wadsworth Atheneum
Muletrain and Castle 1710 Louvre
Bacchanalian Scene 1710s Hermitage Museum
Halt of the Brigands 1710s ibid
The Inquisition or Interrogations in a Jail 1710-20 Kunsthistorisches Museum
The Temptation of Saint Anthony 1710-20 Louvre
Landscape with Shepherds c. 1710-30 São Paulo Museum of Art, São Paulo
Pulcinella singing with Family and Lute Player 1710-35 Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia
Three Camaldolite Monks at Prayer 1713-14 Rijksmuseum
Three Capuchin Friars Meditating in their Hermitage 1713-14 ibid
Christ Adored by Two Nuns c. 1715 Accademia
The Sack of a City 1719-25 Sibiu, Muzeul Brukenthal, Abbey of Seitenstetten
Satire of Nobleman in Misery 1719-25 Detroit Institute of Arts
Bacchanale 1720-30 The Getty Center in Los Angeles
Triumph of Venus 1720-30 ibid
Interior with Monks 1725 Norton Simon Museum
Gamblers, Soldiers and Vagabonds 1720-30 Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Supper of Pulcinella & Colombina 1725-30 North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh
The Synagogue 1725-30 Cleveland Museum of Art
Consecration of a Franciscan Friar c. 1730 El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso
Burial of a Franciscan Friar c. 1730 El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso
Sacrilegious Robbery 1731 intended for church of Siziano, now in Quadreria Arcivescovile, Milan
Exorcism of the Waves after 1735 Rochester, New York
The Observant Friars in the Refectory 1736-37 Museo Civico, Bassano del Grappa
Figures Before a Stormy Sea ca. 1740 Honolulu Museum of Art
The Entrance to a Hospital Muzeul des Arta, Bucharest
Landscape with Camaldolese friars Museo Giannetino Luxora, Genoa
The Marriage Banquet Louvre
Praying Monks Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent
Reception in a Garden Palazzo Bianco, Genoa
Seashore Hermitage Museum
Supper at Emmaus Convent S. Francesco in Albaro, Genoa
The Tame Magpie Metropolitan Museum
Two Hermits in Forest Louvre
Untitled


Notes

Wittkower, 1993, p. 478
Dizionario geografico-storico-statistico-commerciale degli stati del Re di Sardegna, Volume 7, by Goffredo Casalis, Turin (1840), page 726:

potrebbe chiamarsi pittore romantico: dipingeva a tocchi franchi, e con isprezzatura ingegnosa, figure piccole in chiese d'architettura gotica, o in solitudini, romiti, cappuccini; ovvero mariuoli sulle piazze, soldati ne’quartieri

Lanzi, Luigi (1847). Thomas Roscoe (translator), ed. History of Painting in Italy; From the Period of the Revival of the Fine Arts to the End of the Eighteenth Century III. London; Original from Oxford University, Digitized January, 2007: Henry G. Bohn. p. 287.
Spike, 1986, p. 87

Lanzi, page 287.

References

Raffaello Soprani, Carlo Giuseppe Ratti (a cura di), Vite de Pittori, Scultori ed Architetti Genovesi; In questa seconda Edizione rivedute, accresciute ed arricchite di note da Carlo Giuseppe Ratti Tomo Primo, Stamperia Casamara, dalle Cinque Lampadi, con licenza de superiori, Genova, 1769. Pagine 155-164
Herman Voss, A Re-discovered Picture by Alessandro Magnasco, in "The Burlighton Magazine", LXXI, pp. 171–177. London 1937
A Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Alessandro Magnasco, exhibition catalogue, Durlacher Bros, New York
Golden Gate International Exhibition, California Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1940
Maria Pospisil, Magnasco. Firenze 1944
Benno Geiger, Magnasco. Bergamo 1949
Antonio Morassi, Mostra del Magnasco, exhibition catalogue, Bergamo 1949
Renato Roli, Alessandro Magnasco, Milano 1964
V.Magnoni, Alessandro Magnasco, Roma 1965
Alessandro Magnasco, exhibition catalogue, Louisville-Ann Arbor, 1967
Fausta Franchini Guelfi, Alessandro Magnasco. Genova 1977
Spike, John T. (1986). Centro Di, Kimball Museum of Art, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, ed. Giuseppe Maria Crespi and the Emergence of Genre Painting in Italy. p. 87.
Fausta Franchini Guelfi, Alessandro Magnasco. Soncino (Cr) 1991
Wittkower, Rudolf (1993). Art and Architecture Italy, 1600-1750. Penguin Books, Pelican History of Art. p. 478.
L.Muti - D. De Sarno Prignano, Magnasco. Faenza 1994
Alessandro Magnasco 1667-1749. Exhibition catalogue. Milano 1996
Jane Turner (a cura di), The Dictionary of Art. 20, pp. 95–96. New York, Grove, 1996. ISBN 1-884446-00-0

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