Size: Frame: cm H 24 x L 30 x P 2; slate: cm 17x 5 x 23.5
The painting depicts a dynamic cavalry battle. At the center a rider with a feathered helmet advances making his way between a wounded horse on the ground and a lifeless body. Behind him, in the background, some soldiers take part in the bloody conflict. On the left a rider in armor moves away while with his right arm he shoots a rifle. In front of him, other fighters leave the field of view, implying to the observer that the battlefield continues beyond. The painter has used a support rather rare than the most usual canvas: he painted with oil directly on a slate board and, as often happens with the use of this material, depicted the subject without completing it with a landscape or background. Taking advantage of the characteristic dark grey colour of slate, which thus acts as a background and becomes an integral part of the image, the artist brings out the figures of the fighters through wise touches of color for details and highlights, mainly on the light tones of white, yellow and ochre. The slate is a very special support because it does not absorb oil painting, leaving the colors bright and lively and giving texture to work. However, it requires a certain pictorial skill, which in this work is distinguished by the rapid and immediate brushstrokes, which give the subjects dynamism and lightness.
The author is to be found among the painters of battles of the seventeenth century, continuation of the greatest interpreter of the genre, Jacques Courtois called the Borgognone (Saint-hyppolite 1621 – Rome 1676). The Borgognone, although not having had a real school or direct students, stands as a primary point of reference by the Italian and foreign “battaglisti”. The genre of battle painting found great success in the collections of the Italian and European nobility of the 17th and 18th centuries that, longing to possess some examples, was active commissioning for many artists. The battles of the Italian Renaissance, in which the scene converged towards a precise protagonist, evolve towards a type of combat "without a hero”. The bloody realism of the details and the dynamic development of the narrative confuse the figure of the protagonist to give importance to the swirl of horses and armed fighters, among whom does not emerge a winner.
The work, in excellent state of conservation, has an ancient frame in molded and gilded wood.