Diana resting, with putto and hounds thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Diana resting, with putto and hounds

Fresco
ca. 1705 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This painting, a detached fresco, was attributed in 1963 to the Florentine artist Alessandro Gherardini (1655-1723) on the ground of patent stylistic similarities with the rest of his oeuvre. It shows the Antique goddess Diana resting and is probably a fragment of a large decorative cycle representing the Olympian gods. A pupil of Alessandro Rossi (1627-1707) and best known for his fresco paintings, Gherardini developed a more painterly approach in Florentine art and anticipated the style of painting characteristic of the late 18th century.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Fresco on tile
Brief Description
Fresco on tile, 'Diana resting; with Putto and Hounds', by Alessandro Gherardini, ca. 1705
Physical Description
Diana is seen reclining on the left in three quarter profile, her bow leaning against her, a crescent moon on the top of a head; a putto besides her is playing with two hounds.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 66cm
  • Estimate width: 94cm
Dimensions taken from C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973.
Style
Object history
Purchased, 1864.
Historical context
Originally attributed to the Florentine painters Giovanni da San Giovanni (1592-1636) and then Baldassare Franceschini called Il Volterrano (1611-1689), this painting was eventually attributed to Alessandro Gherardini by Gerhard Ewald (1963).



The painting is in fact a detached fresco on tile. This technique is a good example of Gherardini's art as he favoured especially this medium to display his inventive compositions and was indeed particularly appreciated as a fresco painter by his contemporaries. Fresco painting is among the most complex projects undertaken during the Renaissance. This technique, i.e. painting on wet plaster, originated in the Antiquity (see the surviving fresco of Pompeii, near Naples, destructed during the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 B.C.), was reintroduced and developed in the late 13th century and the 14th century particularly in the work of the Isaac master, Giotto and his followers and perfected during the Italian Renaissance, culminating in Michelangelo's technological tour de force in the Sistine chapel, Rome (1508-12).



The present work shows a reclined Diana resting, identifiable as such by her bow and the crescent moon on the top of her head while two hounds besides her (she is a hunter) are playing with a putto. Francesco Saverio Baldinucci in his biography of the artist recalls that soon after 1702 Gherardini painted in the palace of his friend and protector in Florence, Alessandro del Grazia, a series of frescoes representing Olympian gods. This painting may be a fragment of this lost ensemble.



The composition recalls famous examples of reclining nude women, more closely associated with Venus rather than Diana, a connection which is strenghtened by the presence of a putto at her side, interchangeable with Cupid. Here the influence of Florentine artists such as Michelangelo (see the sculpture The Night in the Sagrestia Nuova of S. Lorenzo, Florence) for the monumentality of the figure, and the Northern school, especially Titian, Veronese and Correggio, for the dynamic composition as well as the subtle and colourful palette, is patent (see Correggio, Venus and Cupid with a Satyr, Louvre, Paris; Titian, Danae, Capodimonte, Naples; and Veronese, Allegory of Love,, The National Gallery, London).



Fresco painting was used to decorate large wall areas of both private and public buildings. Such sizable paintings, in which timing was of critical importance, took careful planning and involved a number of assistants. A precise plan in the form of a drawing or of many drawings was required so that the composition would fit exactly on the wall. The artist could draw directly on the wet plaster (this underdrawing technique is called sinopia) or use cartoons (from the Italian word cartone) from which the composition was then transferred onto the wall. Another method of transfer, used especially in the 17th century for vast ceiling frescoes, was squaring, which replaced the time-consuming and costly cartoon technique.
Production
Originally attributed to Giovanni da San Giovanni and then to Baldassare Franceschini called Il Volterrano
Subjects depicted
Summary
This painting, a detached fresco, was attributed in 1963 to the Florentine artist Alessandro Gherardini (1655-1723) on the ground of patent stylistic similarities with the rest of his oeuvre. It shows the Antique goddess Diana resting and is probably a fragment of a large decorative cycle representing the Olympian gods. A pupil of Alessandro Rossi (1627-1707) and best known for his fresco paintings, Gherardini developed a more painterly approach in Florentine art and anticipated the style of painting characteristic of the late 18th century.
Bibliographic References
  • Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 129, cat. no. 148.
  • G. Ewald, 'Il pittore fiorentino Alessandro Gherardini' in Acropoli, iii, 1963, p. 94 and 125, n. 7, fig. 5.
  • Francesco Saverio Baldinucci, Vita di Alessandro Gherardini in Cod. Palat. 565, vol. II, cc. 178r-183r, Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze, see: Francesco Saverio Baldinucci, Vite di artisti dei secoli XVII-XVIII : prima edizione integrale del Codice Palatino 565, trascrizione, note, bibliografia e indici, a cura di Anna Matteoli, Rome, 1975.
Collection
Accession Number
680-1864

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record createdApril 27, 2006
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