Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gentileschi, Orazio

The Annunciation
c. 1623
Oil on canvas
286 x 196 cm
Galleria Sabauda, Turin

Orazio Lomi Gentileschi (1563–1639) was an Italian Baroque painter, born in Pisa, who was one of the more important and successful painters influenced by Caravaggio (the so-called Caravaggisti). Though Gentileschi was one of the best followers of Caravaggio and was highly influenced by him, Gentileschi gradually developed a softer, more refined version of Caravaggio's dramatic style tending rather towards the lyrical and refined, and not having the power and uncompromising naturalism of Caravaggio. His graceful figures are stately and clearly disposed, with sharp-edged drapery-qualities recalling his Tuscan heritage of superb elegance and draughtsmanship.

The Annunciation, painted in Genoa, his masterpiece, is a work of consummate grace that shows a weakening of Caravaggio’s influence. The composition still depends on dramatic gestures, here of the Virgin and the angel, and there is still a strong immediacy to the incident and an absence of idealization. The mood, however, is more restrained and lyrical than in his earlier works, the colors are light, and the earlier chiaroscuro is absent.