Oil on canvas. Roman school of the XVIIIth century attributed to Andrea Locatelli.
If nature is a divine creation, the organization of it in what is called "a landscape" is man's own. The landscape painter is thus guided by the concert of the seasons, by the passage of time and by the passage of the figures who peregrinate in these places. Under a blue sky punctuated by a few spring clouds, the artist deploys here the poetry of an undergrowth that lets appear some figures walking towards a winding river. Perched on a rocky promontory, two men are fishing. Behind them, in the center of the composition, a shepherd accompanied by a musician perched on a donkey leads a small group of cattle through the clearing. For her, the journey is a pleasure in itself and not simply the means to a destination. A second woman carrying a jar on her head walks back the way she came. Is she going to the village with its classical architecture that can be seen on the left bank of the river? On her way, she will cross a pilgrim and a merchant at rest. It is a day that begins serenely in this landscape barely warmed by a rising sun whose yellow light illuminates the composition horizontally. The artist conveys the passage of time by painting the swaying of the foliage, suggesting the effect of a gentle breeze whose force moves the clouds and carries the birds over the river.
In front of our vast landscape, the viewer will not fail to recall the prose of Chateaubriand's famous Voyage en Italie: "Nothing is comparable in beauty to the lines of the Roman horizon, to the gentle slope of the planes, to the soft and elusive contours of the mountains that end it. [...] A particular vapor, spread in the distance, rounds the objects and hides what they can have of hard and of clash in their forms. [...] A singularly harmonious hue marries the earth, the sky and the waters".
Andrea Locatelli has achieved a skilful synthesis by placing elements of ancient architecture in a landscape inspired by the region of Lazio where a profane life is taking place. The morning light that penetrates the vegetation aerates the composition. Playing on the contrasts of shadows, he spreads out a succession of planes to the horizon. His Arcadian and idyllic style borrows from the art of Claude Gellée and Nicolas Poussin who developed classicism in landscape painting. He distinguished himself from the bamboches and the Nordic tradition by refusing genre painting and anecdotal figures. In doing so, he managed to infuse his art with a sense of poetic solitude, and thus went beyond the simple rural register.
Our composition is elegantly underlined by a molded gilded wood frame.
Dimensions: 94 x 167 cm - 108 x 181 cm with the frame.
Provenance : Swiss private collection
Andrea Locatelli (Rome, Dec. 19, 1695 - Feb. 19, 1741) was an Italian artist who began his apprenticeship with the seascape painter Monsu Alto around 1712. Following the death of his master, he continued his training with Bernardino Fergioni (1674 - 1738) and then with Biago Puccini. In 1715, he received a commission to decorate a room in the Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome, for which he was paid at the rate of a master. As a sign of his success, Locatelli was offered 500 pounds more than his main competitor, Giovanni Paolo Panini, for the execution of a preparatory study of 1724, related to a large architectural project commissioned by Duke Vittorio Amadeo II of Savoy. In 1735, Philip V of Spain commissioned two paintings to decorate a room in the royal palace of La Granja. It is in the painting of landscape that he excels and by which he is known near the Roman cardinals Alessandro Albani and Pietro Ottoboni. Locatelli was a prolific painter and the inventory of the Colonna family in 1783 lists 80 of his works.
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