Michele Antonio Rapous (Turin 1733-1819)
Still life with vase of flowers, peaches and a basket of grapes in a garden of roses
Already collection Giuseppe Rossi
Oil on canvas, cm 116 x 106,5 (canvas), frame cm H 130 x W 121 x D 6
The canvas, of fine workmanship, belonged to the famous collection of Giuseppe Rossi which was sold at auction by Sotheby’s in 1999. The work depicts a still life with a rich composition of flowers and fruit set in a rose garden. At the center of the canvas a large blue ceramic vase with golden bronze details is luxuriantly adorned with a triumph of flowers in shades of white, red and blue. At the base of the pot an inverted wicker basket is filled with white and black grapes. Next, two peaches balance the composition. To the right, on the second floor, on a small wall, some flowers lie down. In the foreground a rose bush acts as a fifth to the scene.
The work is attributed to the illustrious painter of still lifes Michele Antonio Rapos (or Raposo, not Rapous as many people erroneously write, distorting its name to French). Rapos is certainly recognized as the best author of still lifes in Piedmont between the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Much appreciated by the Savoy court and the local nobility, the artist is present in the main court residences and in numerous palaces and private castles throughout Piedmont.
Michele Antonio Rapos was born in Turin in 1733, to Giuseppe Antonio and Anna Teresa Chiaravelli, and died there in 1819. Brother of Vittorio Amedeo, also an important court painter, specializes in the genre of still lifes gaining success at the Savoy court from which he receives commissions for the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale, of Stupinigi, for the Royal Palace of Turin.
The still lifes of Rapos have particular characteristics that make them easily identifiable: among the fruits stand out bunches of grapes, peaches, plums, pears, sometimes pomegranates, melons and figs; among the flowers, often collected in large monumental vases, you can admire delicate roses, fluffy peonies, carnations and tulips. The architectural and decorative elements, among which the baccellati vases or with bas-relief and porcelain elements, are inspired by the great models of the French tradition, in the style of Louis XV. Rapos interprets the Rococo Piedmontese taste with grace and decorative gracefulness, manifesting to know the French still-life painters of the eighteenth century, such as Jean-Baptiste Blain de Fontenay, François de Cuvilliés and Alexandre-François Desporte. His first still lifes, dating back to around 1755, still have late-horned results, dark backgrounds, lush nature, landscapes wrapped in darkness, from which emerge flowers and fruits, decorative elements.
In the canvas presented here, dating from about 1780, the dark background that surrounds the scene makes the composition evocative, in which flowers and fruits stand out with colors, lively and harmonious, tuned mainly in the range of reds, from vermilion to scarlet, white and blue.
Characteristic of the artist is the use of a delicate brush stroke and the velvety fruit yield, particularly evident in the description of grapes and peaches.
The work, of great pictorial quality but small in size, belongs to the most intimate production of the artist, who paints many paintings of similar structure for a private collection that loved to adorn the hilly residences of Turin, where he spent his summer holidays, with paintings with pleasant and pleasant subjects.