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Madonna and Child with Saint Anne Appearing to Pope Paul V

circa 1703-1704
17th century
109.22 cm x 102.24 cm (43 in. x 40 1/4 in.)

Antonio Balestra (Verona, Italy, 1666 - 1740, Verona, Italy) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: Europe, Italian
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Accession Number: 2017.890

This painting is a capital example of Balestra’s style in its first moments of full synthesis. The diagonal armature and regular construction of its compositions are clichés of late-century Roman altarpieces, and passages like the figure of Pope Paul are so controlled that they suggest an actually Roman hand. But the complication of certain tones and the personality of other passages, like the figure of Saint Zeno, betray Venetian authorship. Featuring Zeno, the patron saint of Verona, and Paul V, the early 17th-century pope who asserted eccelesiastical authority against a defiant Venice, this picture along with its pair was surely conceived as a pendant for an orthodox setting, perhaps a cleric’s private residence, in Balestra’s native city.

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