Giuseppe Maria Crespi Pastoral Scene
Oil painting on canvas, depicting Pastoral Scene, attributed to Giuseppe Maria Crespi known as “Lo Spagnuolo” (Bologna 1665-1747).
In this painting, the painter places meticulous attention on scene with four shepherdesses, set in a wooded landscape.
Most likely, the four young women represent the guardian nymphs of the Capra Amalthea, who nursed infant Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida on the island of Crete.
This painting depicts the milking moment of the Amalthea goat, in fact her milk, together with the nectar of immortality provided by the Panacride bee, fed Zeus, when he was on the island of Crete.
When the goat died, Zeus placed it among the stars of the sky, took its skin and created its shield, called Aegis, while from its horns he obtained the Cornucopia, the mythological symbol of food and abundance.
Crespi was born in Bologna to Girolamo Crespi and Isabella Cospi. His mother was a distant relative of the noble Cospi family, which had ties to the Florentine House of Medici.
He was nicknamed “Lo Spagnuolo” (the Spaniard) due to his often tight-fitting clothes typical of Spanish fashion of the time.
By age 12, he apprenticed with Angelo Michele Toni (1640–1708).
From the age of 15–18, he worked under the Bolognese Domenico Maria Canuti. The Roman painter Carlo Maratti on a visit to Bologna, is said to have invited Crespi to work in Rome, but Crespi declined.
Maratti’s friend, the Bolognese Carlo Cignani invited Crespi in 1681–82 to join an Accademia del Nudo for the purpose of studying drawing, and he remained in that studio until 1686, when Cignani relocated to Forlì and his studio was taken over by Canuti’s most prominent pupil, Giovanni Antonio Burrini.
From then on, Crespi worked independently of other artists.
His main biographer, Giampietro Zanotti, said of Crespi: “(He) never again wanted for money, and he would make the stories and caprices that came into his imagination. Very often also he painted common things, representing the lowest occupations, and people who, born poor, must support themselves in serving the requirements of wealthy citizens”. Thus it was for Crespi himself, as he began a career servicing wealthy patrons with artwork. He is said to have had a camera optica in his house for painting.
By the 1690s he had completed various altarpieces, including a Temptation of Saint Anthony commissioned by Count Carlo Cesare Malvasia, now in San Niccolò degli Albani.
The work, is in a good state of conservation, with some scattered restorations, on the right arm of the nymph milking the goat and on the left side of the sky.
19th century frame, in wood and gilded stucco, with small cracks and loss of color.
66 x 58 cm unframed