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Record Image
Maratta, Carlo (Italian, b.1625, d.1713), Artist
Saint Joseph and the Infant Christ
Circa 1687
oil on canvas
850 mm diameter sight size; 1075 mm diameter frame size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Bequeathed 1948 by Sir Henry Lindo Ferguson.
Painter, draughtsman and printmaker Carlo Maratta’s work is characterised by its elegant and graceful Classicism, and its consummate harmony of disegno (design) and colore (colour) – the two fundamental principles behind Florentine and Venetian art. The sacred and the secular are also combined here, as although the subject is St Joseph and the Christ Child, the work was reputed to have been painted for a friend of the artist, who had recently had a son. The tondo or round format of the picture enhances the sense of unity between the subjects, and draws attention to the warmth of their embrace.
The attribution to Maratta has been questioned by some art historians who have suggested that the work may be by Maratta’s studio assistant, Passeri. However, Florence-based researcher, Dr Stella Rudolf, while undertaking a major study of the artist in 1990, commented that although there is some ‘fuzzy handling of paint on the heads of Joseph and the Child’, this ‘is not matched by the execution of the sculptural folds of drapery’. She went on to say: ‘one may note that the picture corresponds exactly, even in minor details, to the composition engraved by N. Dorigny . . . and that the style coincides with that of Maratta in the period in question [circa 1687]. Either it is an excellent studio copy, perhaps by Passeri, or the original itself. . . . Vouching for late Maratta pictures without having actually seen them has proved a risky procedure because of his copious studio production. Nevertheless I hope, and dare I say suspect, that Dunedin has got one.’

not on view

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