The Adoration of the Trinity (design for the decoration of a dome) thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

The Adoration of the Trinity (design for the decoration of a dome)

Oil Painting
1710 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, (1675-1741) was a painter who, together with Sebastiano Ricci and Jacopo Amigoni, was among the most important Venetian history painters of the early 18th century. From 1708-1713 Pellegrini was in England, where his first task was probably the decoration (destr.) of the stair-well in the Duke of Manchester’s house in Arlington Street, London. He also designed sets for the opera and a cupola in Castle Howard, N. Yorkshire (largely destroyed by fire in 1941) with a dramatic painting of the Fall of Phaeton. Pellegrini enjoyed considerable success in England where he was popular with the aristocracy and was appointed one of the directors of Kneller’s Academy in 1711.
In 1710 Sir James Thornhill and Pellegrini were asked to produce a painted model for the decoration of the inside of the dome of St Paul's Cathedral with subjects from the Acts of the Apostles. The Commissioners appear to have deliberated for many years but finally selected Thornhill to paint the dome in 1715. While P.24-1953 may not have been Pellegrini's actual entry, as it does not derive its subject from the Acts, it was probably painted in connection with the competition and possibly for the artist's own use. This is one of Pellegrini's earliest oil sketches and is exceptional in being dated, however it lacks the brilliant brush strokes of his later works and has an overall muted appearance.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief Description
Oil painting, 'Design for the Decoration of a Dome: the Adoration of the Trinity', Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, 1710
Physical Description
A study for the decoration of a cupola with a lantern at the centre, the Virgin, saints, angels and figures from the Old Testament are seated amid swirling clouds adoring the Trinity
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 59cm
  • Estimate width: 61cm
  • Frame height: 710mm
  • Frame width: 725mm
  • Frame depth: 65mm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, C.M. Kauffmann, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973. Frame dims measured by Nicola Costares and Ruth Hibbard, Feb 2013.
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'Pellegrini pinxit 1710' (Signed and dated by the artist on the back)
  • '45' (paintin in red on teh back of the stretcher. Also the stencil 113 p. [according to object file notes])
Credit line
Presented by Art Fund
Object history
Purchased, 1952

Sir John Wood, Bt, sale at Hengrave Hall, Bury St Edmunds, 15-8, 22, 25. September 1952, lot 1683.

Received 5th March, 1953 from National Art Collection Fund,

Hertford House,Manchester Square, W.1



Historical significance: Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, (1675-1741) was a painter who, together with Sebastiano Ricci and Jacopo Amigoni, was among the most important Venetian history painters of the early 18th century. Bringing together the High Renaissance style of Paolo Veronese with the Baroque of Pietro da Cortona and Luca Giordano, he created graceful decorations that were particularly popular amongst the aristocracy of central and northern Europe. From 1708-1713 Pellegrini was in England, where his first task was probably the decoration (destr.) of the stair-well in the Duke of Manchester’s house in Arlington Street, London. He also designed sets for the opera and a cupola in Castle Howard, N. Yorkshire (largely destroyed by fire in 1941) with a dramatic painting of the Fall of Phaeton. Pellegrini enjoyed considerable success in England where he was popular with the aristocracy and was appointed one of the directors of Kneller’s Academy in 1711.

In 1710 Sir James Thornhill and Pellegrini were asked to produce a painted model for the decoration of the inside of the dome of St Paul's Cathedral with subjects from the Acts of the Apostles. The Commissioners appear to have deliberated for many years but finally selected Thornhill to paint the dome in 1715. While P.24-1953 may not have been Pellegrini's actual entry, as it does not derive its subject from the Acts, it was probably painted in connection with the competition and possibly for the artist's own use. This is one of Pellegrini's earliest oil sketches and is exceptional in being dated. It is contemporary with his staircase dome at Castle Howard, but is closer in conception to his ceiling of 1702 in the library of the Church of San Antonio at Padua. It lacks the brilliant brush strokes of his later works however and has an overall muted appearance.
Historical context
Illusionistic ceiling painting, which includes the perspective techniques of di sotto in sù which means "seen from below" and quadratura in which the architectural elements of a wall or ceiling painting appear to be part of the real architectural setting, became especially popular during the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods. In these ceilings trompe l'oeil perspective tools such as foreshortening, and other spatial effects were used to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface or linear perspective was applied to the concave surfaces of domes in order to visually dissolve the architecture and create illusions of limitless space.

Oil sketches such as this are a type of painted work of small dimensions that first appeared in the 16th century. They derive from the Renaissance practice of preparatory drawings in pen and ink and are generally executed as a preparatory study in mixed oil and tempera for a finished larger work as an alternative to drawings. The finished version of these studies is often called a modello. Among the earliest known oil sketches are those by Polidoro da Caravaggio (ca. 1497-ca. 1543) but the technique spread quickly among the artists including Federico Barocci (1528-1612), Cristofano Allori (1577-1621), Tintoretto (1519-1594 ) and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1609-1664) and became an important feature of Baroque art. Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) introduced this practice in Flanders. This method benefits both artists and patrons as artists were able to present and promote their work while patrons could evaluate a project at an early stage. Sometimes considered as works of art in themselves, oil sketches were also collected by connoisseurs. Oil sketches were still favoured during the Rococo and the Romantic period but by the end of the 19th century, artists tended to paint directly on the support, abandoning the technique as a preparatory study.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, (1675-1741) was a painter who, together with Sebastiano Ricci and Jacopo Amigoni, was among the most important Venetian history painters of the early 18th century. From 1708-1713 Pellegrini was in England, where his first task was probably the decoration (destr.) of the stair-well in the Duke of Manchester’s house in Arlington Street, London. He also designed sets for the opera and a cupola in Castle Howard, N. Yorkshire (largely destroyed by fire in 1941) with a dramatic painting of the Fall of Phaeton. Pellegrini enjoyed considerable success in England where he was popular with the aristocracy and was appointed one of the directors of Kneller’s Academy in 1711.

In 1710 Sir James Thornhill and Pellegrini were asked to produce a painted model for the decoration of the inside of the dome of St Paul's Cathedral with subjects from the Acts of the Apostles. The Commissioners appear to have deliberated for many years but finally selected Thornhill to paint the dome in 1715. While P.24-1953 may not have been Pellegrini's actual entry, as it does not derive its subject from the Acts, it was probably painted in connection with the competition and possibly for the artist's own use. This is one of Pellegrini's earliest oil sketches and is exceptional in being dated, however it lacks the brilliant brush strokes of his later works and has an overall muted appearance.
Bibliographic References
  • Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 214-215, cat. no. 269A.
  • English Baroque sketches : the painted interior in the age of Thornhill. Exh. Cat. Marble Hill House, Twickenham, 1 May-7 July 1974, no. 69.
  • 'Minute Book H. M. Commission for Rebuilding St Paul's Cathedral' in Wren Society, xvi, 1939, pp. 107-09.
  • 'Vertue Note-Books,' i, in Walpole Society, xviii, 1930, p. 38 f.
  • National Art-Collections Fund, 50th Annual Report, 1953, p. 23, no. 1702
  • F. J. B. Watson, 'English Villas and Venetian Decorators' in Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, lxi, 1954, p, 173
  • E. Croft-Murray, Decorative painting in England,London : Country Life, i, 1962, p. 72.
  • E. Young, 'Some Pellegrini sketches and their Chronology' in Apollo, 82, 1965, p. 104, fig. 2.
  • Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings Accessions 1953 London: HMSO, 1963
  • Waterhouse, Ellis Kirkham, Italian art and Britain: winter exhibition 1960, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1960
  • English Baroque sketches: the painted interior in the age of Thornhill
Collection
Accession Number
P.24-1953

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record createdFebruary 12, 2007
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