Friday, February 06, 2009

Eloquence saves Innocence from Calumny

Venice 1665 - Villabona, Rovigo 1730
Oil on canvas, 148x200 cm.
Private Collection

Vicenzo Canal from Vicenza, described Lazzarini as a tireless worker and an extremely pious and pure man, so much as to feel a deep sense of guilt when he happened to paint nude women at the request of clients.

However the painter achieved a considerable success and was asked to help decorate the most important churches in Venice and the houses of the ancient Venetian nobility (Orpheus and the Bacchantes for the Procurator Correr, now in Cà Rezzonico, 1698).

The subject of the painting - as it is clear in the inscription “Eloquentia a Calumnie furore/ Innocentem libetrat/ Caput....”added on the open volume in the background on the left, below the parrot - is a free interpretation of the very famous allegory of Calumny, painted by the Greek painter Apelle

The theme was popular in the Renaissance period. Botticelli painted a version now in the Uffizi in Florence.

Calumny is represented as a beautiful woman, overcome by passion and anger; in one hand she is holding a flaming torch, in the other one she is dragging by the hair a man who is lifting up his arms, invoking the gods as witnesses.

He represents Innocence, the victim of false accusations, saved by Eloquence who is coming to help him and who is represented as a woman wrapped in a red cloak, accompanied by Cupid holding the caduceus, the sign of Mercury, the god of Eloquence.