Oscar Mandel

The Art of Alessandro Magnasco

The Art of Alessandro Magnasco

Casa Editrice Leo S. Olschki
Viuzzo del Pozzetto
50126 Firenze, Italy
ISBN 88-222-4280-7
211 pages, illustrated
27 euros
For more information: celso@olschki.it

larger view of cover image


Table of Contents

From Chapter III

. . . . Most of Magnasco’s personages—cardplayers or Capuchins—are remarkably gaunt, even though, as we shall see, the artist often represents them at mealtime. Are we to take this as a properly Italian feature, indicating that Italy was a hungrier country than the United Provinces? Not so; for hunger in the land did not prevent mainstream Italian painters and the Bamboccianti from endowing their peasants, laborers, and beggars with perfectly healthy physiques. Witness any one of Ceruti’s or Todeschini’s humble folk. When a monk or a friar turns up, as in certain works by Giuseppe Gambarini that I will be discussing in Chapter VIII, he too is as plump as pudding. Patrons wanted to be amused or sweetly touched by “modern” subjects, not forced to think lugubriously about starvation in the land. By and large, visions of horror were wadded, if I may so put it, in remoteness: a flaying of Marsyas, the evisceration of a martyr. What Magnasco probably conveyed to his admirers by means of his famished-looking creatures set against extraordinary backgrounds was a sense of the uncanny, a sense that does not connect in the mind with social protest.