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Work The Marriage of the Virgin
Department of Paintings: Italian painting
The Marriage of the Virgin
© 1995 RMN / René-Gabriel Ojéda
This work is the companion piece to the Adoration of the Shepherds. It is probably one of a series of seventeen Scenes from the Life of the Virgin listed in an 18th-century inventory of the queen’s chamber in the royal palace in Madrid. Other works from the series are held in various Spanish museums and collections.
A classical composition
In the center stands the Virgin, wearing a pink gown and pale blue mantle. Her head is bare and her chestnut hair falls in loose curls round her neck. In front of her a character kneels to present her with a vase. To the left is a high priest wearing a green mantle, reading from a large book held by a young child, while Joseph, wearing purple robes and a yellow cloak, holding a blossoming branch. Behind him are Levites bearing torches, while on the right a few young women are kneeling. The scene takes place beneath a temple arch, with winged angels hovering overhead. The Virgin’s pose is similar to that of Saint Susannah by François Duquesnoy (1597-1643) in the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto in Rome, which inspired it in a variety of ways. The perfect balance of the figures, the palette of cool colors, and the large format are reminiscent of the classicism of Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), particularly his first series of Seven Sacraments (Duke of Rutland’s collection, Belvoir Castle).
A brilliant career
Luca Giordano showed early promise when he began work in his father’s studio in Naples before moving to that of Ribera. His swift ease with a paintbrush earned him the nickname Luca Fa Presto. He eventually moved to Rome, where he was strongly influenced by the art of Pietro da Cortona. Luca Giordano had a talent for sunny pastiches, imitating all styles of painting and producing some etchings which demonstrate his skill as a draftsman. He traveled to Italy’s great artistic centers and copied the great masters in Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice, then returned to Naples before entering the service of Grand Duke Cosimo III in Florence in 1667. He then went to work for Charles II of Spain in 1692, painting a fresco on the ceiling of the chapel and staircase in the Escurial before helping to decorate the grand salon of Buen Retiro and the vault of the royal chapel in Madrid. When the king died, Giordano returned with the new king to Naples, where he painted the sacristy of the Charterhouse of San Martino (1704), a light and airy baroque masterpiece.
- FERRARI O., « Les Scènes de la vie de la Vierge de Luca Giordano (1634-1705) », Revue du Louvre et la Revue des musées de France, 2004, n° 4, p. 61-66.
- LOIRE S., Peintures italiennes du XVIIe siècle du musée du Louvre, Florence, Gênes, Lombardie, Naples, Rome et Venise, Paris, 2006, p. 172-176.
Luca GIORDANO (Naples, 1634 – Naples, 1705)
The Marriage of the Virgin
H. 1.15 m; L. 1.35 m
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