Offered by Phidias Antiques
19th century European painting and sculpture
Technique: oil on canvas
Dimensions: 120.6 x 92.7 cm
Signed lower right: “C. Looting”
Exhibitions: 1903, Milan, Annual Spring Exhibition, Palazzo della Permanente, n. 237; 1904, Paris, Salon des Artistes Français, 1904, no. 1582 Bibliography: Annual Spring Exhibition, catalog of the exhibition (Milan, Palazzo della Permanente, spring 1903), Milan, Società per le Belle Arti, 1903, p. 40, no. 237; Ludovic Baschet, Catalog illustré du Salon de 1904, Paris, 1904, n. 1582; Cesare Saccaggi: A versatile international painter, Tortona, Gabbantico, 2000, pp. 32, 43, and 54; Cesare Saccaggi: Between Eros and Pan, exhibition catalog (Tortona, 13 December 2008 – 8 March 2009), Turin, Umberto Allemandi & c., pp. 32, 171, 178.
The "ineffable courtesy" that Dante attributes to his beloved Beatrice in the second encounter seems to be sublimed to perfection in the painting executed by Cesare Saccaggi and exhibited first at the Permanent Exhibition in Milan in 1903 and then at the Paris Salon in 1904. Very few and extremely symbolic are the temporal and spatial references that Dante gives us in the Vita nova and Saccaggi seems to want to support this poetic expedient, placing the image of the two young men in a magical indefinite moment of adolescence, in the precious moment of inner change inherent in the Incipit vita nova, expression reproduced on the top of the elaborate gilt frame. Beatrice is dressed in both red and white, in an imaginary version of the dress, which combines the two Dantesque visions of the first and second meeting. The scene is also imaginary. In no passage of the Vita nova, in fact, Dante describes a moment in which they walk together: the maximum contact between the two is the visual one, followed by the virtuous and purest exchange of greeting; for the rest, everything appears rather vague and allegorically indefinite, with the clear intention of wanting to evoke an exciting contemplative conversation. And in the painting what is truly adherent to Dante's memory is precisely the ineffable aspect of Beatrice: the girl is almost never explicitly described, but rather "appears" as a celestial vision, with the exception of the song Donne ch'avete intelletto d love, in which Dante gives a hint, albeit symbolic, to the external aspect: «Color di perle à quasi...»3, a mother-of-pearl epidermis, white just like the one Cesare Saccaggi chooses for his Beatrice, with the eyes turned upwards, almost as if to recall the verses of Paradise in which «Beatrice was all in the eternal wheels with her eyes; and I fixed the lights on her..."4: to underline the divine and salvific role played by the girl, already projected into the celestial spheres, while Dante observes her feeling a mystical sense of satisfaction. The painter places the scene in a luxuriant flower garden, in the middle of spring, the season in which, moreover, the author exhibits the work at the Permanente in Milan, a correspondence certainly not accidental. The reference is to the ascetic beauty of the hortus conclusus, the typical medieval garden seen as a metaphor for human existence. The entrance threshold, in this case the balustrade in the background, is the symbol of the transition from chaos to a new condition of serenity and pristine purity: the figure of Beatrice, observed almost submissively by the young Dante, takes on this meaning of ascent towards virtue. The two boys therefore walk in a secret and idyllic locus amoenus, surrounded by a profusion of small lilac flowers and framed by the fronds of a weeping willow. In the almost divisionist background, behind the cypresses, a view of Florence expands illuminated by the rosy light of the sunset, while Beatrice holds two roses in her hand, one luxuriant and the other which is already withering, a sad omen of her imminent death and vanitas of earthly things. A painting that perfectly follows the atmosphere of Dante's text: behind the graceful and graceful beauty of a youthful memory made up of visions and dreams of love, it hides tremors and negative omens. A profound dichotomy that sees spring as an allegory of rebirth and life, but with a subtle reference at the end, to the typically medieval theme of the transience of human existence, which constantly permeates all of Dante's poetics.
Saccaggi makes it his own, with a painting with a delicate and harmonious symbolism that represents the most brilliant season of his production and thus described by the critics of the time, which reports a dialogue that took place at the Permanente in Milan: «... a very beautiful Saccaggi: Incipit Vita nova.
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2 600 €