(San Matteo della Decima, 1734 – Bologna, 1802)
The Holy Family
Oil on canvas – 34¼ x 27 in (87 x 68,5 cm)
This delightful Holy Family, distinguished by a richly-designed composition and creamy brushwork, is a mature masterpiece by Gaetano Gandolfi, one of the finest masters active in Bologna in the eighteenth century and the most famous member of the city’s leading artistic dynasty. The canvas is a perfect expression of his cultivated, elegant language, in step with contemporary Classicizing painting in Europe. Gandolfi’s talent in bringing new life to the tradition of grand Bolognese painting is evident, refreshing local idiom through reference to the clear, liquid brushwork of Tiepolo and the latest innovations of French and English art of those years.
A symphony of gazes and gestures lies at the heart of this painting, and an emphasis on physicality and humanity is conveyed by the wonderful alternation of hands in the centre of the picture.
Acquired by the Cleveland Museum of Art