Francesco Narici (Sestri, Genoa, 1719 – 1785 Naples)
The Virgin and Child (recto); Study of a Male Nude (verso)
Oil on card, a grisaille (recto), red chalk (verso), 184 x 120 mm (7.2 x 4.7 inch)
- With Galleria Vespucci, Florence
- Jacques and Galila Hollander, Paris, until 2014
Francesco Narici moved to Naples around 1735, where he is thought to have been trained by artists from the circle of Francesco Solimena (1657–1747), who was then still alive but at highly advanced age.1 Narici’s first documented work was executed in 1751 for the church of S. Anna a Capuana in Naples, which shows a strong influence of Solimena. In the next decades the artist returned to his native Genoa, where he painted portraits of Doge Marcello Durazzo and members of the Monticelli family.
By 1775 Narici was producing altarpieces for Neapolitan churches again, and also executed a series of seven paintings for the Chiesa dell’Ave Gratia Plena in Marcianise, near Caserta. The last known work by Narici was painted in 1779, of the Virgin with Sts Nicholas and Ignatius of Loyola, commissioned by the church of the Annunciation in Guardia Sanframondi.
Narici is not well known today, which is mostly due to the fact that most of his altarpieces have survived in situ in often obscure churches, and few of his works can be seen in museums. Neapolitan painters of this period frequently worked out larger compositions in modelli painted in oils, to present to potential clients and give them an idea of what a finished work might look like. Several modelli of this kind by Narici have been preserved and are similar in handling and execution to the present work. Our grisaille sketch can for instance be compared to Narici’s sketch of the Assumption (see fig.),2 and to another sketch of San Giovanni da Sanfacondo.3 Another sheet with two designs for paintings in ornamental borders with scenes from the life of St Giovanni di Dio are preserved in the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (see fig.).4
1. For the artist, see D. Sanguinetti, ‘Pittura ‘napoletana’del Settecento in Liguria: il caso di Francesco Narici’, Prospettiva, CIII-CIV, 2001, pp. 159-168.
2. Oil on greyish prepared card, 258 x 203 mm, private collection; see G. Godi, Dipinti e Disegni Genovesi dal ‘500 al ‘700, Genoa 1973, no. 32.
3. Oil on brownish prepared card, 208 x 113 mm, private collection; see Godi, op. cit., no. 16.
4. Oil on brownish prepared paper, 108 x 155 mm, inv. no. RSA 261.