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Genoa: Drawings and Prints, 1530-1800

Genoa: Drawings and Prints, 1530–1800

Bambach, Carmen, and Nadine M. Orenstein, with an essay by William M. Griswold
1996
96 pages
114 illustrations
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Genoa, well known as a seaport established in ancient times and as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, emerged as a major artistic center toward the middle of the sixteenth century, sparked by the sea lord Andrea Doria's political leadership and ready patronage and the artist Perino del Vaga's arrival from Rome. The technically masterful, even boldly experimental, drawings and prints in this exhibition illustrate Genoa's growth by the early seventeenth century into an important regional artistic school. Some of the drawings were made as independent works of art, as for instance ones by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, characterized by rich painterliness and dramatic content. Many sheets are preparatory drawings, which eloquently describe the Genoese tradition of illusionistic fresco painting that unfolded almost in its entirety within the splendid interiors of the new churches and palazzi erected on the Via Balbi and Strada Nuova (now Via Garibaldi). In addition to better-known artists—Luca Cambiaso, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Giovanni Battista Gaulli (Baciccio), Bernardo Strozzi, for example—the exhibition includes less-studied Genoese artists, such as Carlo Alberto Baratta, Giulio Benso, Bartolomeo Biscaino, Bernardo and Valerio Castello, Giovanni David, and Gregorio and Lorenzo de Ferrari, all of whom significantly influenced other artists both in Genoa and elsewhere in Italy.

A number of years before his death, Jacob Bean, then Drue Heinz Curator, Department of Drawings, envisioned an exhibition of drawings and prints selected from New York collections that would highlight the work of Genoese artists between 1530 and 1800. Not only was Jacob very much the conceptual force behind the present exhibition, but he and the late Lawrence Turčić, then assistant curator, were also noted connoisseurs of Genoese drawings. Their discoveries are attested to by a large, mostly unpublished dossier of attributions to Genoese artists made during the course of more than a decade and kept in the archives of the Department of Drawings and Prints. It is in their memory that this exhibition has been mounted, with works selected by William Griswold, Nadine Orenstein, and Carmen Bambach, the latter two of whom also prepared the catalogue entries.

Study for the Decoration of a Vault, Carlo Alberto Baratta  Italian, Brush with gray wash and gouache, highlighted with white and traces of light yellow, partly over traces of black chalk, on blue-green prepared paper, now faded
1754–1815
Saint Michael the Archangel and Another Figure Recommending a Soul to the Virgin and Child in Heaven, Bartolomeo Biscaino  Italian, Red chalk, brush and brown wash
1629–57
1650–57
1650–57
The Nativity with Angels, Bartolomeo Biscaino  Italian, Etching; first state of eight (TIB)
1650–57
Apollo Driving the Chariot of the Rising Sun, Luca Cambiaso  Italian, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over black chalk; squared in red chalk
1527–85
ca. 1565
Coverlet, Harry Tyler  American, Wool, cotton, woven, American
1839
Hunters with Dead Game in a Landscape, Giovanni Agostino Cassana  Italian, Black chalk, reinforced with colored chalks, brush, gouache, and brown ink, on blue paper
1600–1800
Modello for Ceiling Fresco with Papal Coat of Arms, Bernardo Castello  Italian, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, highlighted with white, over traces of black chalk, on blue paper; squared in black chalk
1557–1629
Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, Valerio Castello  Italian, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over black chalk
1624–59
Judith Decapitating Holofernes, Valerio Castello  Italian, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over black chalk
1624–59
Young Hunter with His Dogs in a Landscape, Giovanni Francesco Castiglione  Italian, Pen and brown ink, brush and watercolor
1641–1710
A Congress of Animals, Giovanni Francesco Castiglione  Italian, Pen and brown ink, brush and watercolor, over traces of black chalk
1641–1710
God the Father Appearing to Jacob, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto)  Italian, Brush with colored oil paint and touches of brown ink; paper partly saturated with oil
ca. 1635–45
Fantastic Subject: Five Nude Male Figures Punishing Another, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto)  Italian, Pen and dark brown ink, brush and brown wash
1609–64
Youth Playing a Pipe for a Satyr, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto)  Italian, Brush with colored oil paint; paper partly saturated with oil; lined
1645–50
Pastoral Journey with Flocks and Herds at a Stream, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto)  Italian, Brush with red and brown oil paint
1660–64
Noah Entering the Ark, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto)  Italian, Brush with red and brown oil paint; small passage in the center with gray-blue oil paint
1609–64
Laban searching for idols among Jacob's possessions, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto)  Italian, Etching
ca. 1635–40
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Bambach, Carmen, Nadine Orenstein, and William Griswold. 1996. Genoa: Drawings and Prints, 1530-1800. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.