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Noah and the Animals Entering the Ark

circa 1650
17th century
20.3 cm x 39.9 cm (8 in. x 15 11/16 in.)

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Genoa, Italy, 1609 - 1664, Mantua, Italy) Primary
Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Genoa, Italy, 1609 - 1664, Mantua, Italy) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, Italian
Medium and Support: Etching
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Accession Number: 2002.1768

By origin and periodic association, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione was Genoese. His style thoroughly reconciles the school’s residual Mannerism with its naturalism of Netherlandish cast. At the same time, spending much of the 1630s and 1640s in Rome, he assimilated Nicolas Poussin and Pietro Testa’s highly intellectual and idealized Baroque. Castiglione’s curiosity and openness are confirmed by his ceaseless exploration of the graphic arts and by his late activity across northern Italy. More than any other figure, he transcended conventional Baroque categories and predicted the dominant tendencies of eighteenth-century style.
Combining noble theme with a pretext for genre, the journeys of the patriarchs in the Book of Genesis were a constant subject in Castiglione’s art. With the added appeal of a menagerie, Noah and the loading of the Ark was a particular favorite. The many versions include an early oil on paper in the Suida-Manning Collection. Here, the procession is organized with the simple structure and slow cadence of an ancient relief, but brought to life by the busy hand, textured light, and even bawdy accent of Rembrandt’s early etchings.
Castiglione’s etchings are the finest of the period in Italy. This is perhaps his most pictorial and coherent. Characterized by great clarity, a silvery tone, and dense polishing scratches, this is an especially early impression. The museum possesses forty etchings by the artist.

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