Oil on canvas, with frame cm H 115 x W 151 x 6,5 - only canvas H 98,5 x W 135 cm
The large and very beautiful painting, made in oil on canvas, represents an architectural whim with in the foreground a powerful building with arches, of which you can see two archways. Large columns and pilasters in the Ionic and Corinthian composite style slender and lighten the architecture, distinguished by a flower-shaped cornice on which some marble sculptures rest. In the background you can see a more graceful structurally colonnade, with balustrade and sculptures, adorned with blunt greens that give picturesque features to the canvas. In addition to the arches of the colonnade we see described in the distance a large seventeenth-century city with turreted houses. The landscape fades on the horizon towards a blue sky marked by fluffy clouds.
The scenic architecture is animated, in the foreground, by some figures. It is a scene from the Bible: the Pericope of the adulteress (popularly known as the episode of Jesus and the adulteress), a passage from the Gospel according to John (8:1-11) in which a woman caught in adultery is brought before Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees to know his opinion about his condemnation to stoning.
Jesus bent down and with his finger began to write on the ground. And as the Pharisees insisted, he lifted up his head and answered, "Let him who is without sin first cast a stone at her". Then he bent down again and continued to write on the ground. When they heard these words, all but the woman who waited departed, and Jesus rose up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? No one condemned you?" He answered: "No one, Lord". Jesus said to her: "I do not condemn you either, go and sin no more".
The architectural whim, an artistic genre that has made its way into Italian painting since the seventeenth century, is characterized by the representation of fantastic architectures or inventions of perspective type, sometimes combined with elements drawn freely from reality. The large canvas in question has a considerable artistic interest. The architecture of invention gives a solemn classicism to the place; creates plays of light and shadows and serves as a frame to the scene.
The work, painted with great finesse even in the details and small figurines, is certainly attributable to the famous Roman painter Alberto Carlieri (Rome, 1672 - 1720), the most appreciated author and requested in Rome between the death of Giovanni Ghisolfi (Milan 1623-1683) and the affirmation of Giovanni Paolo Panini (Piacenza 1691 - Rome 1765). In the work object of this study can be found common stylistic reasons of his works. Characteristic elements are the suggestive compositional dispositions and the remarkable mastery in the direction of the lights, as well as the richness of the architecture and the refined as well as the meticulous descriptiveness of the details. Peculiar to the author is also the lively attitude of the figures, resolved with ease in the use of color, and inserted harmoniously in the architecture.
Carlieri was born in Rome in 1672 and began studying the painting of architecture under the guidance of Giuseppe de Marchis. He became a pupil and later collaborator of Andrea Pozzo. Present in the most illustrious Roman paintings, from the collection of Filippo II Colonna, Rospigliosi and Cardinal Valenti Gonzaga, Carlieri elaborates compositional models well recognizable, influenced, as well as by the painting of the master also that of Viviano and Nicolò Codazzi. His pictorial activity can be traced through the signed works, around which it was possible to build a not small catalogue of canvases. News of the Carlieri and his signed or dated works are between 1690 and 1720. Nothing is known about the life of the painter, who should have died in Rome shortly after 1720.
Among the typical characteristics of Carlieri’s style we point out the way perspective develops in the distance: with light colors, cold shades and pastel shades. The late works of the artist have decidedly clear tones and in this way differ from the darker tones used by him previously.
The author several times depicts the subject described here. Also in the canvas are found both architectural and figurative elements that often Carlieri introduces in his works.
The very setting of the majestic restaurant architecture in several of his works. The same can be said for the pavement, played on the checkerboard effect of a marble pavement that, through perspective, contributes to give great three-dimensionality and scenic effect to the overall composition.
We must also highlight some figures that Carlieri loves to introduce in the compositions. Among these are certainly the dogs that play and run around lively, as well as the figure of a man sitting, with a bent leg and the other half-stretched that supports with an arm on the ground. This particular, very frequent and also depicted in a mirror way, can almost be considered a signature of Carlieri.
Also the couple of men, generally bald and gray and with long beard, that walk and sometimes indicate, are recurrent in the paintings of this painter.
On the basis of the critical considerations set out above, the canvas must be dated to a mature stage of Carlieri’s activity, presumably around 1700.
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Price : on request