'18th century Neapolitan Crèche', Presepe, 18th Century
340 × 445 cm. (133 ⅞ × 175 ⅓ in.)
Founded in 1760, Colnaghi is one of the oldest commercial art galleries in the world with an unmatched history. From the late nineteenth century, Colnaghi became the leading dealership of Old Master paintings, selling masterpieces to the greatest collectors and museums of the gilded age. The only major commercial gallery to specialise in artworks from antiquity through to the modern era, Colnaghi handles unique objects from the Ancient World, the finest Old Masters and Modern masterpieces. With galleries and experts in London, New York, and Madrid, Colnaghi is able to offer an unparalleled service and programme of exhibitions and events.
Over its 260-year history, Colnaghi has grown with its inimitable owners. In 2017, Colnaghi New York was reopened under the new Directorship of Carlos A. Picón, longtime curator of Greek and Roman art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2019, art curator and dealer Victoria Golembiovskaya joined as joint CEO in London alongside existing owner Jorge Coll, establishing Colnaghi as the only major commercial gallery to specialise in artworks from antiquity through to the modern era. Today, Colnaghi maintains an everlasting connection with its past, whilst looking firmly towards the future.
Colnaghi will present Naples, an exhibition exploring the city's greatest Old Masters and its enduring influence, for London Art Week Winter 2021. The centerpiece of this show will be a magnificent '18th century Neapolitan Crèche', or Presepe. With its large-scale carved and painted figures, animals and still-life elements, this remarkable work will be shown in its own room within the London gallery.
First recorded in Lazio in the thirteenth-century and connected with Franciscan movement, presepi became a great Neapolitan speciality in the eighteenth-century. Although essentially folk-art, these wonderfully life-like artistic productions, combining sculpture and painting, drew inspiration from the works of some of the great seventeenth-century Neapolitan painters such as the religious paintings of Luca Giordano and the still lifes of Recco and Ruoppolo, as well as from Caravaggio. His brief time in Naples in 1606-7 and 1609-10, as a fugitive from justice after the famous tennis-court murder, had a seminal influence on artists such as Ribera, Cavallino, Carracciolo and Mattia Preti, all of whom will be represented in the present exhibition.
Also included, will be a group of landscapes of Naples painted mainly by northern artists during the heyday of the Grand Tour and into the nineteenth century, when the legendary beauty of the City described earlier by John Evelyn as "the most magnificent of any in Europe", inspired the famous saying "See Naples and Die". The exhibition, which opens 1 December 2021 and runs until early 2022, is one of the first in London to be devoted to the city and its art, in the last forty years.
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