Bartolomeo Schedoni THE HOLY FAMILY AND AN ANGEL2018-10-10T17:37:11+00:00

Bartolomeo Schedoni

Modena 1578 – Parma 1615

THE HOLY FAMILY AND AN ANGEL

Oil on canvas – 94 x 78 cm.

 

The protagonist of this monochrome painting, clearly a “sketch” for a grander composition, is St Joseph to whom an angel appears, reassuring him of the divine nature of the Virgin Mary’s forthcoming pregnancy. Unlike the version of the story in the New Testament, Joseph does not have this vision as he sleeps but, rather, while busy plying his trade as a carpenter. This narrative change enables the painter to portray the Virgin and Child seated on a throne, in the background, in order to visualize the contents of the angel’s words and to bring the holy family together in a single representation.

The exceptional smoothness of the brushstrokes and the neo-Correggesque approach underlying the layout of the image ensure that the work can be securely attributed to Bartolomeo Schedoni, the artist from Modena who, during his sadly brief career, managed to draw intelligently upon Correggio’s methods in the light of modern interpretations gleaned from the Carracci.

The work represents the “initial idea” for a painting which we know was made by Schedoni for the chapel of San Giuseppe in the church of the Steccata in Parma, although he was never paid for it. Consequently, in 1615, Schedoni elected to sell the work to the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception for the church of San Francesco in Piacenza. After becoming part of the Farnese collection in 1713, the painting was brought to Naples in 1734 by Charles I and subsequently kept in the Royal Palace there.

Although the initial commission of the altarpiece for a chapel dedicated to St Joseph justifies the iconography described above, the considerable variations made to the final work can be explained by a further reflection, possibly suggested to the painter by the new clients, on the theme of the Immaculate Conception. Indeed, besides the members of the holy family, other figures – St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, and the young St John the Baptist – also appear in the final painting. In the transition from the initial sketch to completed altarpiece, the nature of the vision also changes. In the former work, the vision portrays the Virgin and Child seated on a throne but that image is replaced by a more “everyday”— although equally ingenious scene – wherein all the figures crowd round St Joseph’s workbench.

Since the commission date for the altarpiece has not come down to us (since Schedoni retained it in his workshop, awaiting payment, until shortly before his death), it is impossible to assign a precise date to the sketch, which must have been executed shortly after the artist was entrusted with the commission. The work’s most surprising aspect is the speed and freedom with which Schedoni created the image, using only shades of brown and white. Although it reflects a compositional taste that is still typical of the sixteenth century, the volatility of the brushstrokes already anticipates eighteenth-century gracefulness: in particular, it is interesting to note the intelligence with which the painter was able to alternate soft brushstrokes (useful for giving a rough idea of the clouds and the putti becoming ensnared in them or the bas reliefs that decorate the throne of the Virgin) with other subtler brushstrokes, which were employed to make certain features stand out from the shadow – for example the right leg and sandal of St Joseph.

Our painting, which is also in a remarkably well-preserved condition, significantly increases knowledge of the methods of one of the most-fascinating protagonists of early-seventeenth century painting in Emilia, and consequently constitutes (from an art-historical perspective) a significant acquisition.

Daniele Benati

Bartolomeo Schedoni

Modena 1578 – Parma 1615

THE HOLY FAMILY AND AN ANGEL

Oil on canvas – 94 x 78 cm.

 

The protagonist of this monochrome painting, clearly a “sketch” for a grander composition, is St Joseph to whom an angel appears, reassuring him of the divine nature of the Virgin Mary’s forthcoming pregnancy. Unlike the version of the story in the New Testament, Joseph does not have this vision as he sleeps but, rather, while busy plying his trade as a carpenter. This narrative change enables the painter to portray the Virgin and Child seated on a throne, in the background, in order to visualize the contents of the angel’s words and to bring the holy family together in a single representation.

The exceptional smoothness of the brushstrokes and the neo-Correggesque approach underlying the layout of the image ensure that the work can be securely attributed to Bartolomeo Schedoni, the artist from Modena who, during his sadly brief career, managed to draw intelligently upon Correggio’s methods in the light of modern interpretations gleaned from the Carracci.

The work represents the “initial idea” for a painting which we know was made by Schedoni for the chapel of San Giuseppe in the church of the Steccata in Parma, although he was never paid for it. Consequently, in 1615, Schedoni elected to sell the work to the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception for the church of San Francesco in Piacenza. After becoming part of the Farnese collection in 1713, the painting was brought to Naples in 1734 by Charles I and subsequently kept in the Royal Palace there.

Although the initial commission of the altarpiece for a chapel dedicated to St Joseph justifies the iconography described above, the considerable variations made to the final work can be explained by a further reflection, possibly suggested to the painter by the new clients, on the theme of the Immaculate Conception. Indeed, besides the members of the holy family, other figures – St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, and the young St John the Baptist – also appear in the final painting. In the transition from the initial sketch to completed altarpiece, the nature of the vision also changes. In the former work, the vision portrays the Virgin and Child seated on a throne but that image is replaced by a more “everyday”— although equally ingenious scene – wherein all the figures crowd round St Joseph’s workbench.

Since the commission date for the altarpiece has not come down to us (since Schedoni retained it in his workshop, awaiting payment, until shortly before his death), it is impossible to assign a precise date to the sketch, which must have been executed shortly after the artist was entrusted with the commission. The work’s most surprising aspect is the speed and freedom with which Schedoni created the image, using only shades of brown and white. Although it reflects a compositional taste that is still typical of the sixteenth century, the volatility of the brushstrokes already anticipates eighteenth-century gracefulness: in particular, it is interesting to note the intelligence with which the painter was able to alternate soft brushstrokes (useful for giving a rough idea of the clouds and the putti becoming ensnared in them or the bas reliefs that decorate the throne of the Virgin) with other subtler brushstrokes, which were employed to make certain features stand out from the shadow – for example the right leg and sandal of St Joseph.

Our painting, which is also in a remarkably well-preserved condition, significantly increases knowledge of the methods of one of the most-fascinating protagonists of early-seventeenth century painting in Emilia, and consequently constitutes (from an art-historical perspective) a significant acquisition.

Daniele Benati

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