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Title Saint Gregory
Collection English Heritage (Chiswick House)
Artist Attributed to Cavedone, Giacomo (Italian painter, 1577-1660)
Date Earliest about 1640
Date Latest 1660
Description Giacomo Cavedone from Sassuolo near Modena (1577-1660) trained in the academy of the Carracci at Bologna where he practiced his art throughout his career. An essentially provincial artist, he achieved his most individual work around 1610-20 when the influence of the Carracci school was on the wane and that of Guido Reni who returned to reside permanently in his native city in 1614 had not yet fully taken hold. The Chiswick painting probably dates to some time after the later 1630s, and reflects the loose painterly technique and dramatic chiaroscuro (extreme contrasts of light and dark) of Reni's late style. The figure of the early Christian Latin Father, Gregory the Great is identified by his attribute of a dove, he is represented as a tall and powerful looking middle-aged man, in a manner befitting his important status among the fathers of the Church. Dressed in the red and white robes of papal authority, St Gregory's form is bright against the dark background as if to illustrate the religious illumination he brought into being. He is shown seated at a table, his fingers marking the open pages of a large bible, his head is turned heavenwards and wears an ecstatic expression, as if he is receiving divine guidance for his writings directly from the dove of the Holy Spirit that hovers by his ear. In his influential texts St Gregory the Great established the form of the Roman liturgy and its music, called Gregorian Chant.
Current Accession Number 88003072
Former Accession Number 133
Subject religion (St Gregory); figure
Measurements 114.3 x 95.3 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased by the Department of the Environment for Chiswick House 1975.
Provenance Recorded in the Bedchamber, Chiswick House 1753; in the Green Velvet room by 1761 and in the East Saloon 1845; Dukes of Devonshire 1753; then by descent to the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement; their sale, Christie's, London, 31 October 1975, lot 85.
Publications Faulkner, T., The History and Antiquities of Brentford, Ealing and Chiswick, London, 1845, p. 414 as 'Saint Gregory - Cavedone. Pensive countenance, with a book, a dove on the right hand. It has been observed by some good judges, that the artist had three different manners, at three different periods of his life. His first was excellent, the second indifferent, and his last feeble and miserably bad'.
Rights Owner Copyright English Heritage
Author Francesco Nevola

 

 

 

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