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Lorenzo de’ Ferrari

(1680–1744, Genoa)

Study sheet of a naked youth with raised arms. Black chalk and white heightening on greenish-grey paper. 41 x 55.5 cm. Circa 1726–30.

Baroque grace and lightness of touch characterize this fine study sheet from Lorenzo de’ Ferrari’s mature period. It is a preliminary study for a hovering angel intended for an altarpiece called The Glory of the Virgin that Lorenzo produced between 1726 and 1730 and is now in the collection of Genoa’s Galleria di Palazzo Bianco. The fluid, apparently effortless drawing style and the soft contours of the body reveal a complete mastery of the medium. Another preliminary study showing the overall composition of the altarpiece is also in Genoa (Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe, Palazzo Rosso.

The painter and draughtsman Lorenzo de' Ferrari was the son of Gregorio de’ Ferrari and Margherita Piola and the most important member of the second generation of what is known as the Casa Piola, the influential and productive studio which dominated Genoese painting for a century starting from around 1650. Lorenzo was a pupil of his father and was decisively influenced in his young years by the art of Guido Reni and Anthony van Dyck, who had been active for several years in Genoa. Lorenzo initially worked as an assistant to his father, but in time developed an unmistakable style of his own. He executed numerous commissions for religious and secular murals and ceiling paintings, and eventually became one of the most esteemed representatives of illusionist decorative painting in Genoa.

From the collection of Santo Vanni (1807–85, Genoa).

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