Oil on canvas
The engraving by Charles Audran (1594 – 1674) after the work of Pietro da Cortona (1596 – 1669) provides some valuable insight into the painting presented by the gallery. The British Museum in London and the Biblioteca Casanatense in Rome each have a copy. The date of this engraving is uncertain (between 1623 and 1640), however we do know that Audran was particularly active in Rome between 1630 and 1633. Our painter cuts loose somewhat from the original painting by removing the arms of the Barberini family.
This symbolic composition is affiliated with the Accademia Parthenia that was created to worship the Virgin within the Roman College of Jesuits under the patronage of the Barberini family. Among the institutions of the Renaissance, the Jesuits strongly propagated, for educational purposes, the concept of Academy, a place for the elite to meet and discuss literature or scientific topics.
In the middle of the scene a woman wearing a shimmering yellowy-orange fabric kneels in front of a nautical chart holding a compass. To her left, the figure crowned with flowers in a blue toga hands her braided foliage. In the sky, Jupiter indicates a direction and directs the eagle. The bird clutches a magnetic stone between its claws called Arcadis Nodis (literally ‘hidden knots’). This powerful magnet attracts the metal rings on the ground beneath the chart.
On the left, a vessel docks, a man ties the sails and a woman jumps onto a boat. In the background, the contours of a port town with imposing monuments are outlined and many sails fill the horizon.
The mythological references - Jupiter, the goat Amalthea, his attributes thunder and the eagle – are obvious, however this work boasts a wealth of interpretations. You cannot fail to notice the avid interest in science, geography, magnetism and voyages of discovery during this period.
In fact it is a magnetic stone that attracts the iron rings forming a chain held by an invisible and mysterious force. The hanging rings and the stone located at the top allude to magnetic forces and poles. Geographical exploration features in the shape of the chart, compass and compass rose. The role of Jesuit missionaries to colonise the New World so as to evangelise the populations is familiar to us all.
In this allegory, the swirling movement, agile light, vibrant palette, accurate forms and harmonious composition clearly illustrate Pietro da Cortona’s originality, as well as provide an opportunity to see a unique work displaying unquestionable qualities.
We have chosen to present the work in a 17th century Piedmontese frame with a reverse profile, in carved and gilded ‘à la mecca’ wood.
Dimensions: 41 x 53.5 cm image – 60 x 72 cm framed
Pietro Berrettini known as Pietro da Cortona (Cortona 1596 - Rome 16.05.1669)
Pietro da Cortona was a painter and architect who trained under painter Andrea Commodi with whom he went to Rome. He completed his training by closely studying Raphael and the plethora of works by great masters provided by the Eternal City.
His religious and mythological paintings were among the first expressions of the Baroque style. He acquired fame through the famous frescoes that he created for the Palazzo Barberini (1633-1639), a key work in the Roman Baroque style, where the glorification of the Barberini family and the temporal power of the church prevail.
Pietro da Cortona also undertook the decoration of the Pitti Palace (1637-1641) and frescoes featuring the tale of Aeneas in the Palazzo Pamphili (1651-1654). Pietro da Cortona’s work, inspired by the Carracci and Rubens, as well as by Titian and Mannerist artists, offers an original style and enables the ostentation and power of representatives of civil and religious authorities to be expressed. He features prominently in the evolution of Baroque architecture through the creation of Santi Luca e Martina church, as well as the façades of Santa Maria della Pace and Santa Maria in Via Lata.
References and bibliography:
- Biblioteca Casanatense, Rome: Ref. RML 0348863
- British Museum database: 1917, 1208.761
- Pietro da Cortona. Giulio Briganti