Alessandro Magnasco Italy

2-4-1667 Genoa, ITA - 3-12-1749 Genoa, ITA

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Magnasco, Alessandro

Alessandro Magnasco excelled in producing small, hypo chromatic canvases with eerie and gloomy landscapes and ruins, or crowded interiors peopled with small, often lambent and cartoonishly elongated characters. The people in his paintings were often nearly beggars dressed in tatters, rendered in flickering, nervous brushstrokes. A century later he would be described as a romantic painter.

Alessandro Magnasco also found contemporary patronage for his work among prominent families and collectors of Milan, for example the Arese and Casnedi families of Milan. This series of patrons underscores the fact that Magnasco was more esteemed by outsiders than by his fellow Genoese.

The diminutive scale of Magnasco's figures relative to the landscape is comparable to Claude Lorraine's more airy depictions.

Alessandro Magnasco's style is strikingly original and transcends the tired, academic Baroque that epitomized much of contemporary Genoese art. Ultimately, his work may have influenced Marco Ricci, Giuseppe Bazzani, Francesco Maffei, and the famed painters de tocco (by touch) Gianantonio and Francesco Guardi in Venice. But for these Rococo painters, the loose brush became a tool for frothy landscapes, capricious historical scenography, and decorative frolics, while for Magnasco, it seemed to have entrapped his reality in a gloomy cobweb.

His depictions of torture in The Inquisition Interrogations in a Jail and of other low points of humanity seem to impart a modern perspicacity to his social vision, recalling that expressed by Spanish Goya in his 19th century etchings.

Art Movement: Baroque
Influences: Valerio Castello, Filippo Abbiati
Influenced: Marco Ricci, Giuseppe Bazzani, Francesco Maffei, Gianantonio
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