May 20, 2011 ~ Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit MI ~ DIA # 71.1
ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN
Giovanni Francesco Barbieri
By Linda Romanowski
I was drawn to the Assumption of the Virgin which is an oil on canvas painted in 1650 by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri. Giovanni uses a strong and bold baroque style with spacious placement of his humanistic angels in this painting. His use of vibrant blues and reds bring classic gracefulness to this masterpiece. His use of turns and angling of the faces and bodies of the angels entice me to study this painting and follow the flow and direction upwards with the flowing clouds. The Virgin is illuminated however graceful and peaceful as she ascends upward with dignity. Noticing the faces of the male angels, they appear to have very similar facial features and hair color as well as texture. My mind wonders if this is Jesus. Jesus was her son, God’s son, a symbol of love, hope, life, peace, spirituality and moral values. It appears to me that these Heavenly angels are in flight assisting the Virgin Mary on her delivery to her final resting place. This artwork has the ability to teach without words. Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, an Italian, painted an oil on canvas titled it Assumption of the Virgin. This framed Italian religious and spiritual masterpiece has the dimensions of 133 ½ x 99 ¼ x 4 in. (339.1 x 252.1 x 10.2 cm) 121 ¼ x 86 ½ in. (308.0 x 219.7 cm) with a weight of 230 pounds. Credit is due to the Founders Society Purchase, the Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund and the Josephine and Erenst Kanzler, Fund. Assumption of the Virgin is now proudly displayed at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Accession Number 71.1. The Assumption of the Virgin was originally painted for an unidentified church or monastery in Naples; Luton Hoo, collection of 3rd Earl of Bute who likely acquired it in 1750’s. A descent the 6th Marquess of Bute of 1971 was the last to hold possession of this European painting before the Founders Society for the DIA acquired the Assumption of the Virgin. (Detroit Institute of Arts) Giovanni Francesco Barbieri was born in Cento,Italy on February 1, 1591, he is also known as Guercino. He was a self-taught artist as there were no artists in Cento at this time. He studied engravings and paintings that were available locally. He suffered an acident when he was a young child which left him cross eyed; this did not affect his ability for art. Francesco Barbieri was known a "il Guercino" because of his squint. His great natural facility as an artist is evident in his many surviving drawings, of which there are large numbers in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. Guercino was extremely skillful, productive, and quick to finish his work, he was known for his frescoes, altarpieces, oils, and drawings. “He was especially adept at handling his drawing medium (chalk, oiled charcoal, pen and wash) to convey light and shade, although the often very beautiful pen and wash drawings of his maturity also display a marked, squiggly line of elegance.”(“Guercino.”International) Guercino said in the Columbia University Press that the picture that influenced him most was Ludovico Carracci's Madonna with St. Francis in a local church. From it Guercino learned about deep, rich colors, applied loosely in the Venetian way, and about the new, more intimate manner of interpreting religious themes. Giovanni was trained under Benedetto Gennari the Elder; influenced by Ludovico Carracci, and worked in Bologna on frescoes for the Casa Pannini, 1615. He was in Rome in 1621 where he worked for Pope Gregory XV on the Casino Ludovisi, and for the Ludovisi family; worked in Cento, Italy from 1623 to the 1640's, then worked in Bologna from 1644. He died in Bologna, Italy on December 22, 1666.(Columbia University Press) “This change in style, which began during the early 1620s, was a result of pressure on Guercino...