Gérard de Lairesse (Liège 1641 - Amsterdam 1711), attributed
Circumcision of Christ
Oil on canvas, 120 x 102 cm., In frame 138 x 119 cm.
The painting, of excellent quality and conservation, illustrates a passage narrated in the Gospel of Luke (2,21-24); According to Jewish law, eight days after birth, all male Jews had to undergo the ritual of circumcision. It is an episode in the life of Jesus intended as an anticipation of the Passion, as it represents the first occasion in which the blood of Christ is shed.
In the center of the canvas, Jesus is circumcised by the rabbi doctor, behind whom we recognize Joseph supporting him, while Mary appears on the left. The suspended gesture of the elderly priest is accompanied by the attentive gazes and the expectant attitude of the other observers.
The painting is interesting for its complex composition, full of characters characterized by an exceptional rendering of details, as well as for the monumental and austere environment where the scene takes place, an imposing structure punctuated by tall fluted columns.
An analysis of the stylistic features of the painting easily traces its execution to Gérard de Lairesse (Liège, 1641 - 1711), Dutch painter and engraver of the Golden Century, called by his contemporaries the 'Dutch Raphael' or the 'Dutch Poussin' .
Observing the draft we can well grasp an accurate execution and the use of precious pigments of clear Flemish ancestry, which emanate a beautiful brightness, in line with the artist's painting technique; although his basic training is Nordic, his works are however imbued with an Italian-French classicist taste, where the influence of Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) was decisive, which we can well find in our painting .
We are faced with a work characterized by a pictorial and formal perfection that only a great master can be able to achieve. The application is enhanced by an oil color rich in bright and precious pigments. The pictorial quality, which can also be observed in the details, in the extraordinarily rendered faces, and the refined palette of blues, greens, reds and ocher, are all elements that confirm his authorship. Remarkable in the canvas is the arrangement of the figures, powerfully sculptural, with their dresses shaped by rich drapery and marked by a chromatic choice that is still completely linked to the Dutch ideal of the schools of Utrecht and Amsterdam.
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