(Mantua? - operating in Venice in the middle of the 17th century)
Vase of flowers
Oil on canvas 70 x 56 cm.
Milan, Giorgio Baratti Collection
56 cm), with circular metal containers with rounded central bodies, embossed with representations, and a round wide foot, placed on two square bases, from which emerge two different floral bouquets, combining modules of “florilegia” [Latin flos (flower) and legere (to gather)] from the late 16th or early 17th century, with the clear Baroque ancestry for a more dynamic result. The two assorted floral groups are placed in such a way that, in the second half of the 17th century, had to be almost codified, with the central elements soaring aloft, and several external ones already hanging below the edge of the opening. However, their compositional balanced symmetry at the front betrays an early 17th century culture, dating back to the late 16th-century forms, such as those practiced by various anonymous artists of “grotesque vessels”. Also considering the sharp rendering under a strong direct light, with accentuated streaks, of those that emerge from the shadows in the background, we can deduce that this pair is the work of an author who has an ‘archaic’ training but has progressively opened up to momentary instances of Baroque.
Examining the individual flowers and their almost mechanical camouflage, in the light of the above-mentioned criticisms, we can trace their author with convincing certainty to Francesco Mantovano or Mantovani (Mantua? - active in Venice from 1636 to 1644 and from 1660 to 1663). An author totally overlooked by modern critics until just over two decades ago, so much so that the volume La Natura Morta in Italy (edited by F. Porzio and coordinated by F. Zeri, Electa ed., Milan 1989, I, pp. 326-328), only on the trace of a woodcut was taken in consideration, present the Carta del navegar pitoresco (Venezia 1660) by M. Boschin who give him high praise, probably as the only significant exponent of the sector, in the Venetian School of the first half of the 17th century.
Mantovano’s figure, from two of its pairs of “Vases of Flowers”, preserved in the Accademia dei Concordi of Rovigo, and by another two of the Pinacoteca Civica of Padua, was rebuilt comprehensively by G. and U. Bocchi, first in volume Naturaliter edited by them (Casalmaggiore 1998, pp. 392-409), forming an important body of works (almost all “Vases of Flowers”), joined together in a relevant succession, in the wake of the most archaic paintings of Rovigo, as characterized by stringent typological and pictorial affinities. Then the same authors also ‘focus’ on an author, who revealed himself very prolific from the beginning, in the volume once Pittori di Natura Morta a Roma. Artisti italiani 1630-1750 (Arti Grafiche Castello – Viadana, 2005, pp. 203-245). To the already substantial catalogue of Mantovano we can clearly add this painting, on the basis of the above findings in achieving its inventive parameters, and with a chromatic and bright exposition and intonation, which seem to be concurrent with later works: such as the pairs in a private collection in Modena, the octagonal canvases in a private collections (2005, op. cit., figs. FM1-2, FM 3-4) and also the “Vases of Flowers” published in the last volume of G. and U. Bocchi (figs. FM6, FM10, FM11 and FM12).
Giancarlo Sestieri
Template by JoomlaShine