Monday, October 10, 2016

Two new paintings at the Art Institute

Sebastiano del Piombo
 Christ Carrying the Cross (1515/1517)


Here's the Italian High-Renaissance painting that was recently purchased by the Art Institute.

It was originally part of a triptych  commissioned by Jerónimo Vich y Valterra (1459-1535), who  was Spain’s ambassador to Rome between 1506 and 1521. Trained in Venice, Sebastiano moved to Rome where he served the Papal court along with both Raphael and Michelangelo.

He collaborated with both of them, though his performance is hardly in the same league.

Several copies were made - above is the original -- the one that Vich bequeathed to his heirs - the one that is now in the Prado.

So how does the Chicago copy compare with the original?

A detail is shown above -- with the Prado version at the top.
Even allowing for the defects of my amateur photography -- it does seem that the Prado's version is more sharply modeled.

Did someone  else paint the Chicago copy?  Did Sebastiano himself paint it, but not with the same intensity as when he painted the original?

We'll never know --- but we still can judge which is the better painting.

It's not that this painting is so bad -- it's just not that great.

Here's Del Piombo's portrait of a gentleman who may have been Christopher Columbus.

Online - this is my favorite  Del Piombo painting. It's a detail from a Pieta, done in 1517.
It feels like something Zurbaran might have done a hundred years later.

Here's a detail from a fresco in San Pietro in Montorio.  It was executed 1516-1524.
Michelangelo provided preparatory drawings for one of the other paintings, and certainly feels present here as well. (though in a mangled sort of way)

 The Divine Shepherdess, Quito, c. 1780

Spanish Colonial paintings from The Thoma Collection are on display at the Art Institute through next April, and this one was my favorite.

Over the past few decades, Spanish Colonial art has been emerging as a museum worthy genre, thanks to collectors like the Thoma family who loan their collections to museums.

It's been especially welcome in  Chicago thanks to both our Latin population and our Chicago Imagists.  One might call it un-intended Surrealism.

To me, it feels infantile.  Not that it's been made by children -- but that it's been made for adults who are being treated like children by a priesthood that serves the perpetuation of a sharply defined  European ruling class in a land full of indigenous, illiterate peasants.

But even children's books can occasionally have some good illustration.

This vision of the Virgin might also serve well as the East Asian bodhisattva of compassion, the Guanyin


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