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Carlo Magini (Fano 1720-1806)
Carlo Magini (Fano 1720-1806)

An oil lamp, ceramics, brass lantern, knife, onion and calf's head

Carlo Magini (Fano 1720-1806) An oil lamp, ceramics, brass lantern, knife, onion and calf's head oil on canvas 23 ¾ x 30 in. (60.3 x 76.2 cm.)
E. Malagutti, 'Aggiunte a Carlo Magini', Arte illustrata, I, no. 2, 1968, p. 38.
P. Zampetti, ed., Carlo Magini, Milan, 1990, p. 142, no. 100.

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Lot Essay

Carlo Magini's paintings were little known during his lifetime and in the 19th century. It was not until a 1922 exhibition and a 1952 publication that the artist began to receive the recognition he deserved as one of the most skillful and poetic still life painters of the 18th century. Magini spent virtually his entire life in his native Fano in the Marche with the exception of some time in Perugia (1736) and Rome (1738-1743) where he worked as an assistant to his uncle Sebastiano Ceccarini and Francesco Mancini.

Contemporary records are silent about Magini's patrons, and not all of his works are signed. His artistic identity only began to emerge with the inclusion of three paintings in the exhibition, La Pittura Italiana del seicento e del settecento, held at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence in 1922. The paintings were incorrectly identified as by the 'Pseudo Barbieri', thought to be Guercino's younger brother; however a distinct hand had been identified. Charles Sterling in his 1952 publication Still life painting from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century attributed the paintings to a northern Italian artist at the end of the 18th century. A year later, Robert Longhi published in Paragone his findings on the artist which included a painting signed and inscribed by Carlo Magini, 'painter of Fano'. In 1957, documents unearthed from the Library of Fano established Magini's birth date of 1720 and confirmed that he resided in Fano for most of his life.

The body of work by Magini that has subsequently emerged shows an artist whose compositions were deceptively simple yet artfully composed. Through the careful choreography of the same objects in multiple compositions, Magini subtly and continually explored the relationships between form, color, light, shadow and textures. His work is placed within a tradition that begins with Caravaggio, has precedents in his Velázquez, near-contemporaries with Meléndez and Chardin, and extends to Giorgio Morandi in the 20th century.

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