(Milan circa 1638 - Venice post 1694)
Boreas and Orithyia
Oil on canvas, 117.5x97.5 cm
Milan, Giorgio Baratti Collection
This image immortalizes the climax of the myth narrated by Ovid in the Metamorphoses (VI, 692-722), that is, the “Abduction of Orithyia”, daughter of the legendary Athenian King Erechtheus, by Boreas - in Greek mythology the wind of the north or the personification of winter - who is carrying her away to make her his bride, running on a cloud and driven by the wind of a zephyr cherub on the left. It is a wonderful testimony of the painter Federico Cervelli, born in Milan but profoundly assimilated in Venetian culture. In this setting, he had to make his decisive but somewhat late maturation, working for the first time in public in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo (Noah’s Sacrifice of 1678), a city which at that time orbited around Venice. However, previously Frederick must have already encountered Venetian culture, as reported by Boschini in his Ricche Miniere, in particular with Sebastiano Mazzoni and Pietro Liberi, but also with Giambattista Langetti, and certainly not remaining indifferent to the Neo-Venetian openings, which were opposed to the so-called “tenebrosi” current. Nevertheless, Cervelli’s most fitting vein was expressed in his pagan themes, drawn from Greek mythology, of which this “Abduction” is one of his best examples. Its fresh and vibrant spontaneity, both expressive and pictorial, is in fact closely associated with his similar paintings in the Pinacoteca Quercini Stampalia in Venice (“Stories of Adonis”, “Orpheus and Eurydice”, “Pan and Syringa”) and with some other examples that have recently reappeared on the antiques market, such as “Bacchus and Ariadne “ 2005 at Hotel Drouot in Paris. Finally, in the canvas on display here, Cervelli is confirmed as one of the most consistent followers of the baroque lesson, directly transmitted to Venetian painters by Luca Giordano, but originally assimilated with a Titianesque pictorial resemblance. The vigorous drawing of waves and epidermides, which remind me of the 16th century Lombard paintings, has a fitting momentum, in which the perfectly restored impetuousness of the beloved ancient god and the florid beauty of his future young bride are perfectly matched.

Giancarlo Sestieri
Bibliography: unpublished
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