Antonio Travi called Le Sestri (Sestri Ponente, 1608 - Genova 1665)
Seascape with ruins
Genova, First half of XVII century
Oil on canvas
170 x 200 cm
This painting has been studied by Professor Ugo Ruggeri who proposed the attribution to Antonio Travi .
Antonio Travi is the first true painter of the Ligurian coastal landscape.
While still in his teens, around 1625, Travi spent time in the workshop of Bernardo Strozzi (1581/1582-1644), as one can see from his long, richly-loaded brushwork technique.
Very soon thereafter, Le Sestri created his own language, which included backgrounds with ruined buildings and narrative scenes with colorful small-scale figures. Travi’s animated scenes follow the narrative tradition of Filippo Napoletano (circa 1590-1629) or those of his contemporary Salvatore Rosa (1615-1673). Genoa and the Ligurian coastline provided abundant material for maritime subjects, and the artist filled his foregrounds with fishing scenes, small boats and towing.
Antonio Travi offers us an original blending of Genoese and Northern European traditions, and in particular a response to the art of Goffredo Wals (1595?-1638?), whose presence in Genoa is recorded from November 1623 onwards, and whose treatment of cool, precise light is shared by our artist.
This large canvas depicting a seascape with ruins presumably decorated an aristocratic Genoese palace, as suggest by the monumental dimensions of the canvas accompanied by its original frame.
This beautiful landscape with architectural ruins, fully reflects the pictorial poetics of Antonio Travi that remains constant throughout his career: the highly realistic description in this painting, with its shoreline covered in bright shingle and a crystalline light that precisely defines the reliefs and ruins in the background, lends the whole composition a modern tonality.
Looking at the style characters, we see the proof of the brush stroke and the love for the typical color of the master Strozzi, but also a clarity and precision typical of the Flemings active in Genoa, with a reference particular to the German Goffredo Wals, present in several collections of the Genoese aristocracy.
The luminous and metaphysical scenes of Wals are translated into Travi's painting with a ruinist taste in Ligurian key, through rapid brush strokes, a dense color and a fantastic naturalism accentuated by a silvery luminosity.
From the proposed canvas, we can deduce typical elements of his palette, such as precise chromatic chords and the studied insertion of lighter shades on the basic tones of the lands and whites.
His works are always animated by little figures who carry out their daily activities with simplicity: they bring their flock to drink or to graze on the banks of the river. However, it must be emphasized that the presence of the man does not seems never to be decisive, but that the true protagonist of his works is a nature that reveals itself in all its simplicity. This painting makes it explicit: almost a manifesto of its poetic vein, where ruin is the real queen of the stage.
The link with other autograph works by the artist is evident, notably the "seascape with ruins" from the Zerbone collection in Genoa or the "Rebecca at the well" still preserved in a large private Genoese collection.
In the opinion of Professeur Ruggeri, the perceived quality of the canvas is that of an exquisite autography.
• Genova nell’età Barocca, catalogo della mostra, a cura di E. Gavazza e G. Rotondi Terminiello, Genova Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola 1992, N. 167-168
• -E. Gavazza, F. Lamera, L. Magnani, La pittura in Liguria. Il secondo Seicento, Genova 1990, n. 52-54
• Pietro Torriti , "La natura morta e il paesaggio", dans La Pittura a Genova e in Liguria dal Seicento al primo Novecento, Gênes, 1987
• Gianluca Zanelli, Antonio Travi e la pittura di paesaggio a Genova nel'600, Gênes, 2001