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Giuseppe Bernardino Bison

(1762 Palmanova – 1844 Milan)

The Holy Family with the Infant St. John. Pen and brown ink, over red chalk. 14.2 x 18.9 cm.

The painter and draughtsman Giuseppe Bernardino Bison, a native of Friuli, gained a reputation primarily for his vedute of Venice and as a scene painter and stage designer in Northern Italy. Having completed his initial studies in Brescia, Bison continued his training after 1779 at the Venice Academy under Constantino Cedini and the renowned painter and stage designer, Antonio Mauro. He was an extremely versatile artist who employed many different genres in the paintings and numerous frescoes he made for various private palaces in Veneto. They included landscapes, topographical views, architectural capriccios and, less frequently, mythological and sacred scenes. His artistic oeuvre also encompasses a large number of drawings which are remarkable for their superb technique and lively, virtuoso style. Bison is known to have regarded his drawings, which he often signed, as works of art in their own right. The present drawing of the Holy Family with the Infant St. John, which has been sketched with rough strokes of red chalk and defined with very precise penwork, has distinct similarities with other works he produced on the same motif, for example a painting in the Pinacoteca Egidio Martini in Venice (inv. no. 232) and a watercolour pen-and-ink drawing from the collection of I. Q. van Regteren (Christie’s auction, Paris, 25 March 2015, Dessins anciens et du XIXe siècle incluant la collection I.Q van Regteren Altena, lot 117).

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