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Melchiorre Gherardini Il Ceranino

(1607 -  1675 )
GHERARDINI IL CERANINO Melchiorre Loth Et Ses Filles

Artcurial | Briest - Poulain - F. Tajan
Nov 18, 2014
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Artworks in Arcadja
17

Some works of Melchiorre Gherardini Il Ceranino

Extracted between 17 works in the catalog of Arcadja
Melchiorre Gherardini Il Ceranino - Judith With The Head Of Holofernes

Melchiorre Gherardini Il Ceranino - Judith With The Head Of Holofernes

Original
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Gross Price
Lot number: 785
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Description:
Melchiorre Rusca Gherardini
(Milan 1607–1668)

Judith with the head of Holofernes,

oil on board on canvas, 45 x 34.5 cm, framed

We are grateful to Cristina Geddo for identifying the artist.

The present, hitherto unpublished painting is a work of extraordinary visual and psychological impact, a realistic and poetic image at once: the contrast between the purity of the girl and the head of the man offers itself to a Feminist interpretation ante litteram that stresses the qualities of women by means of a symbolic reversal of victim and executioner roles and celebrates their victory over the dominant sex.

This work was executed in oil on board, a material normally used for monochrome sketches and therefore regarded as belonging to the graphic field; however, on grounds of its use of colours, the perfection of its execution and the limited number of unfinished parts, it seems to point towards an autonomous canvas on an easel meant for a cabinet of rarities. The board is glued to a slightly larger canvas; its lower and right margins are skillfully included in the painting, in order to both hide its signs of wear and to afford more space to the figures compressed on a narrow surface.

Stylistically, the painting can be attributed to the first half of the 17th century, with both Flemish and Lombard influences. It is not by chance that oil sketches on board were employed as a preparation for large-scale works by both Rubens and Cerano as well as the following generation of painters such as Storer and Nuvolone. Both the pathos of the male head and the female typology reveal Cerano\’\’\’\’s influence, which suggests an attribution to the circle of the great Milanese master, the most important representative of which was Melchiorre Rusca, called Gherardini, Cerano\’\’\’\’s pupil, son-in-law and heir of his workshop.

With regard to the iconography, the female figure that holds the head like a trophy can be no other than the virtuous Judith. Unlike the perfidious Herodias, the cunning Judith used her art of seduction in order to free her people from the subjugation of the Assyrians, who had besieged the Jews in Bethulia, by beheading Holofernes, Nebuchadnezzar\’\’\’\’s General, in his inebriated sleep after charming and outsmarting him (Judith, 8,1-16,25, esp. 13.1-11).

The biblical subject is very originally interpreted here in an internalised perspective. Both protagonists are depicted in contemporary garments. This poetic mixture of art and life dates back to Caravaggio and was introduced in Lombardy by Tanzio da Varallo. This intention is corroborated by the marked physiognomic characteristisation of the young Judith, which seems to suggest a portrait. The only ornament are the curls with golden light effects that masterfully exploit the trace of the brush hairs on the transparent velatura of the background. This originally Flemish technique is also used for Holofernes\’\’\’\’ eyebrows. The present Judith is unusually shorn of the seductive, decorative components of traditional iconography based on the biblical account - from Caravaggio to Artemisia Gentileschi, Fede Galizia and Cairo - and offers an irreproachable, almost rueful interpretation of the subject.

Stylistically, the focus of the painting lies in the dramatic contrast between the two heads, arranged diagonally and very close to each other. This is a compositional scheme that can also be found in Cerano\’\’\’\’s Martirio di sant\’\’\’\’Agata at the Fondazione Longhi in Florence. However, the \“horror vacui\” that reinforces the three-dimensionality of the crowded arrangement of figures is rather typical of Giulio Cesare Procaccini, whose style is echoed in Judith\’\’\’\’s vaporous hair. Cerano\’\’\’\’s influence manifests itself explicitly in the emphatic depiction of Holofernes\’\’\’\’ head in the foreground, foreshortened by means of an impressive \‘sotto in su\’\’\’\’, which seems to follow the Mannerist model of Fede Galizia\’\’\’\’s Judith with the head of Holofernes (1596) at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. And yet the open mouth, where death has put its scornful seal on its two large protruding teeth is even more powerful than the scream of the armed figure in Martirio di Santa Caterina in Santa Maria presso San Celso (1609) (with regard to the reference to Cerano and his circle, cf. M. Rosci, Il Cerano, Milan 2000; Il Cerano 1573-1632. Protagonista del Seicento lombardo, exhibition catalogue, ed. by M. Rosci, Milan 2005, no. 59, 79, 81-82).

Both the Cerano\’\’\’\’s dominant influence, enriched by that of Rubens, Procaccini and Tanzio, and the intensity and quality of this work suggest an attribution to Melchiorre Gherardini (1607-1668), a remarkably gifted, multi-talented artist who has hitherto remained in his master\’\’\’\’s shadow.

Judith\’\’\’\’s large, round face blinded by light bears Gherardini\’\’\’\’s signature, as it were, and can be compared with San Sebastiano curato da Sant\’\’\’\’ Irene in a private collection in Varese, which can be dated around 1535 (M. Bona Castellotti, La pittura lombarda del 600, Milan 1985, plate 314). Also typical of this painter are the pastel colours with the white and pink of the woman\’\’\’\’s flesh tones, which go back to Barocci via Rubens, Cerano and Procaccini, and are highlighted by means of the predominant burnt, earthly hues. With regard to the painting\’\’\’\’s attribution, Judith\’\’\’\’s head finds a decisive echo in the poorly preserved, originally incomplete Giuditta con la testa di Oloferne at the Sant\’\’\’\’Eustorgio Museum in Milan, which can be dated around 1635-37 (M. Bona Castellotti, Aggiunte al catalogo di Melchiorre Gherardini, in \“Paragone\”, 29, 345, 1978, p. 89, plate 68). Both figures are closely linked and even share the pink nuances in the flesh tone and the chiaroscuro ear. Despite this affinity, the pictorial softness of the form and the freedom of the brushwork indicate an advanced phase in Gherardini\’\’\’\’s career, who after Cerano\’\’\’\’s death in 1632 emancipated himself increasingly from his master\’\’\’\’s demanding inheritance.

For the aforementioned reasons, the present painting could be dated to the 1640s. In Varallo, Gherardini came into contact with works by Giovanni d\’\’\’\’Errico, Morazzone and Tanzio da Varallo (cf. F.R. Pesenti, Melchiorre Gherardini, dopo il Cerano, in \“Pantheon\”, IV, XXVI, 1968, p. 284-294), and this has left a visible mark in Judith\’\’ \’\’s unadorned simplicity and in Holofernes\’\’\’\’ expressionist realism, which is possibly also linked to Storer. The secular frescoes in Palazzo Durini mark the artist\’\’\’\’s turning point to the baroque instead. This development was also prompted by Storer, who introduced a new Rubens wave in Lombardy (cf. C. Geddo, Collezionisti e mecenati a Milano tra Sei e Settecento: i Durini conti di Monza, in \“Artes\”, 9, 2001, p. 42-46, ill. 8).

In 1632 Gherardini married Cerano\’\’\’\’s daughter, who can be probably identified as the model for the Judith in Sant\’\’\’\’Eustorgio, whilst her daughter Giulia Gherardini, born around 1633, possibly acted as a model for the present Judith.

We are grateful to Cristina Geddo for cataloguing the present painting.
Melchiorre Gherardini Il Ceranino - Madonna Col Bambino, San Giovannino Ed Un Angelo

Melchiorre Gherardini Il Ceranino - Madonna Col Bambino, San Giovannino Ed Un Angelo

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Lot number: 82
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Description:
description
olio su tela

old master paintings

sale mi0243

auction date

session 1 | 01 jun 05 5:00 pm.

location

milan

lot 82

(of 193)

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lot 82

melchiorre gherardini, detto il ceranino
milano 1607-1685
madonna col bambino, san giovannino ed un angelo

12,000-18,000 eur

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measurements

measurements note
101 x 82 cm.

description

olio su tela
Melchiorre Gherardini Il Ceranino - Loth Et Ses Filles

Melchiorre Gherardini Il Ceranino - Loth Et Ses Filles

Original
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Lot number: 98
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Melchiorre Gherardini Il Ceranino -  Sainte Catherine

Melchiorre Gherardini Il Ceranino - Sainte Catherine

Original
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Lot number: 20
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