Francesco Vanni's The Return of the Holy Family from Egypt : Meaning and Technique in Counter-Reformation Siena
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"One of the great treasures in the Museum of Art and Archaeology's collection of Old Master drawings is a beautifully finished sheet related to an altarpiece by the Sienese artist Francesco Vanni. Some scholars have attributed it to Vanni himself, although Marco Ciampolini, one of the most respected students of Seicento Sienese art, has assigned it to Francesco Leoncini, identifying it as a study for his reproductive print done after Vanni's altarpiece rather than preparatory to the painting itself. The high quality of the drawing, which to my eye represents Vanni's accomplished use of red and black chalk as a means of defining the areas of greatest illumination within the composition, suggests that it may in fact be a rare example of a completed study that agrees with the final altarpiece in all of its major features, although some refinements were made in the final oil painting. The altarpiece itself can be considered typical of Vanni's productions, a combination of his characteristic pastel palette, flowing figure style, and close adherence to the strictures of Counter-Reformation theology. An examination of both the painting and the drawing can present reasons for assigning the drawing to Vanni himself and offer new insights into Vanni's artistry and into his technique."--First paragraph.
Originally published in: Muse, 2015, volume 49, pages 55-69
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