Details



carlo antonio tavella
(1668 Milan – 1738 Genoa)

A Wide Tree-covered Landscape with Travellers Resting by a Stream. Pen and brown ink over a light preliminary drawing in graphite. 37.8 x 27.7 cm. Circa 1702.

Carlo Antonio Tavella was in his lifetime a respected and very active landscape painter, who in his youth spent quite some time in the Emilia Romagna and Tuscany and became familiar with the work of Crescenzio Onofri in Florence. In 1695 the artist was in Milan, where he was admitted to the studio of Pieter Mulier, known as il Cavalier Tempesta. Tavella’s painting possesses unmistakably eclectic stylistic features, drawing upon many different sources of inspiration. Apart from Tempesta, it was mainly the landscape art of Gaspar Dughet and Salvator Rosa which most shaped his style, although the influence of Genoese painting, particularly the pastoral genre scenes of Scorza and Castiglione, is unmistakable. Tavella painted the landscape backgrounds for many Genoese painters, such as Domenico and Paolo Girolamo Piola, while in his own works the staffage figures were often provided by fellow painters, such as the Piolas and Alessandro Magnasco. His landscapes generally seem somewhat artificial and stereotyped, lacking the charm of a spontaneous observation of nature.

Tavella also left behind a large oeuvre of decorative, free and routinely handled pen drawings. Many of them are preliminary drawings for paintings, often containing the artist’s own annotations, measurements and the name of the client. The present drawing shows Tavella’s typically austere, somewhat hasty and easily recognizable drawing style (cf. M. Chiarini, I disegni italiani di paesaggio dal 1600 al 1750, Milan, 1972, p. 64, plate 120). The picturesquely wind-tossed tree in the foreground is a frequently recurring repoussoir motif, while the deftly sketched little staffage figures are arranged decoratively in the spacious landscape without any particular relation to one another.

On the verso there is an annotation in the artist’s own hand giving measurements, the date 1702, and a dedication to the “Ill.mo Sig. Fran.co M. Serra Genova”.