Sunday, March 6, 2016

Pietro Testa I

Pietro Testa
Landscape with Satyrs & Putti
17th century
drawing
Rijksmusuem

Pietro Testa
Bacchanal with Nymphs & Shepherds
17th century
drawing
Rijksmuseum

The artist Pietro Testa (1611-1650) died, like Mozart, while still in his thirties  except that Pietro Testa, unlike Mozart, committed suicide. In Patrons and Painters (that Bible of 17th-century Italian art) Francis Haskell turns his attention to the largely forgotten Testa 

 "Like his close friend Poussin he was a stubborn, proud, self-educated man of independent views. He had come to Rome from his native Lucca when in his early twenties, sometime before 1630, and had at once drifted into the orbit of the private connoisseurs rather than the great patrons of the church. ... His biographers all describe him as strange, solitary and melancholy, and his more attractive paintings reflect this side of his character  landscapes, above all, of Titianesque origin often disturbed by threatening winds, with small figures from the Old Testament or mythology sheltering from the elements or occasionally relaxing in the sun."  

Pietro Testa
Landscape with Nymphs & Satyrs
17th century
drawing
British Museum

Pietro Testa
Landscape with classical figures
17th century
drawing
British Museum

Pietro Testa
Venus Presenting Armor to Aeneas
17th century
etching
Rijksmuseum

Pietro Testa
St. Jerome
ca. 1631-37
etching
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Pietro Testa
The Prodigal Son laboring among the Swine
ca. 1645
etching
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Pietro Testa
Juno with the Body of Argus
17th century
drawing
British Museum

Pietro Testa
Landscape
17th century
drawing
British Museum

Pietro Testa
Bacchanal with Putti
1640
drawing
Rijksmuseum

Pietro Testa
Allegory of Autumn
17th century
courtesy of Christie's

Pietro Testa
Venus and Adonis
ca.1635
Akademie der bildenden  K√ľnste, Vienna

Pietro Testa
Massacre of the Innocents
ca. 1639-42
Spada Gallery, Rome

Unlike Poussin, Testa never managed to attract reliable patrons for his easel-painting. "In his discouragement, he turned to engraving. ... Here, at last, he met with the success he desesrved  but even that was bitter, for it only emphasized his failure as a  large-scale painter. In an agony of despair he threw himself into the Tiber."

Pietro Testa
Alexander the Great rescued from drowning in the River Cydnus
ca. 1650
Metropolitan Museum of Art