Lot and his Daughters
43.1 cm x 83.8 cm (16 15/16 in. x 33 in.)
Gregorio De Ferrari
(Porto Maurizio, 1647 - 1726, Genoa)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Extravagant and lyrical, Gregorio de Ferrari’s style was the principal alternative to Domencio Piola’s handsome manufacture in late-century Genoa. Based upon the example of Valerio Castello, and informed by the long study of Correggio, this style is characterized by concatenated form, iridescent color, and ecstatic sentiment. The full splendor of this style can be appreciated only in his ceiling decoration of palaces, villas and, with a mystical force, some churches in Genoa. Although Gregorio’s style is little known in this country, it is one of the most beautiful of the Baroque and one of the clearest predictions of 18th-century painting.
The small size and oblong format of this canvas suggest an architectural function, probably as an over-door element. The calculated balance, relative stability, and general conception of the composition as a shallow relief temper Gregorio’s usual exuberance. This seems, however, compensated by the subtlety of interpretation. Having fled the destruction of Sodom, Lot dwelt in a cave with two daughters who proceeded to seduce him (Genesis 19:12-35). Here, the three appear a single being of soft limbs and rich stuffs and slow rhythms coursing around and through them. Their transgression is understated, exquisite, insinuating. Moreover, the recent cleaning of the painting has revealed the range, responsiveness, and personality of handling, from the broad, constructing strokes in the drapery to the rivuleting impasto in the fine description. This must be reckoned one of the great interpretations of the story.