Antonio Zanchi travelled to Venice at an early age, where he fell under the influence of Francesco Ruschi (active c. 1643-56) and, more significantly, Luca Giordano and Giovanni Battista Langetti, both originally from Genoa. Zanchi's works from the earlier part of his career betray a keen interest in Giordano's dramatic tenebrism, a style which suited his preference for violent subjects. His later works are often lighter in both subject and palette; the present painting, with its heavy chiaroscuro and somber tonality, seems to belong to the earlier part of the artist's career. The subject is an Allegory of Time: the personification of Time, an old man with a sickle, looms menacingly over a reclining male figure, whose youth cannot escape Time's inevitable advance. The heavily muscled torso is characteristic of Zanchi's figures, as is the reclining pose with raised arm, which reappears in several works. Interestingly, this dramatic gesture can also be compared to the figure of Truth in Sebastiano Ricci's Time Revealing Truth (Christie's, New York, 19 April 2007); it seems plausible that the pose in both paintings ultimately derives from similar figures by Giordano. Similar, too, is the compact perspective, with the figures straining against the confines of the canvas and all extraneous details eliminated. This narrow vantage point, together with the sober colouring and stark contrast of light and shadow, further heightens the sense of urgency and drama.
We are grateful to Professor Ugo Ruggeri for confirming the attribution to Zanchi on the basis of photographs.