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    Sale 7633

    Old Master & British Pictures (Day Sale)

    3 December 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 224

    Giovanni Camillo Sagrestani (Florence 1660-1731)

    The Madonna and Saint John the Evangelist

    Price Realised  

    Giovanni Camillo Sagrestani (Florence 1660-1731)
    The Madonna and Saint John the Evangelist
    oil on canvas, shaped top, unframed
    83 x 61 in. (210.8 x 154.9 cm.)


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    An example of the Baroque practice of juxtaposing the different visual arts for an effect that draws equally on the strengths of painting, sculpture and architecture, this touching depiction of the grieving Madonna and Saint John would once have been placed in a framing element with an ornate sculptural crucifix suspended over the central passage. Although the crucifix and the frame are lost, and the church for which this work was painted has not yet been traced, one can imagine the dramatic effect that such an ensemble would have inspired. As a devotional object, the sculpted crucifix was an object present in countless private and public spaces - the deliberate contrast effected between the familiar form of a crucifix and the vibrant energy of Sagrestani's composition, colouring and virtuoso brushwork was designed to arouse a powerful response on the part of the viewer, and unleashing a heightened feeling of the enduring presence of the holy event. In the distance, one can glimpse the Cross of the Good Thief.

    An inventive and successful painter of perspectivally complex frescoes, highly esteemed and greatly in demand with Florentine patrons, Sagrestani would have been well-suited to contribute to such a Gesammtkunstwerk; similar exercises in combining pictorial, sculptural and architectural effects abounded in Italian churches in the 17th Century, the most celebrated example doubtless being Bernini's The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (Rome, Santa Maria della Vittoria).

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