Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Pietro Ligari 1686 – 1752
San Francesco Saverio battezza una principessa indiana /Saint Francis Xavier Baptizing the Indian Princess Neachile 
Oil on canvas
185 x 320 cm
Collezione Banca Popolare di Sondrio, Sondrio

Pietro Ligari 1686 – 1752
Davide consacrato re dal profeta Samuele / Samuel Anointing David
 c. 1717
Oil on canvas
118 x 147 cm
Collezione Credito Valtellinese, Sondrio

The Valtellina is  the small Alpine valley on the border between Lombardy and Switzerland. 

Its importance was established during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. St Charles Borromeo attempted a re=establishment of Catholic faith in the area.

However its strategic location was the cause of the initial stages of the slaughter that we now know as The Thirty Years War

It was the 17th century precursor to Serbia in 1914

Ligari and his son Cesare were the most important artists of the seventeenth century Valtelline

Pietro  created large altarpieces characterised by a balanced composition and strongly contrasting luminosity. 

He produced his most beautiful canvases during this Milanese period of classical tendencies, around 1717-1720, including the Immaculate Conception,  Saint Francis Xavier Baptizing an Indian Princess and Scenes from the Life of King David

Both father and son are strong representatives of the 17th and 18th century Lombard school of painting. 

Their allegiance was to Milan and the forces of the Counter-Reformation

The work celebrating the Jesuit missionary and Saint St Francis Xavier was originally commissioned for the Oratorio di Palazzo Sertoli in Sondrio.  It was commissioned by Francesco Saverio Sertoli, the name sake of the saint

The work commemorates the conversion and baptism of an Indian  Moslem princess in the Far East. Also in the picture is depicted the father of the princess Neachile, King Almanzor (in the red silk cloak) Before her baptism, the princess has laid down her coronet and her pearls

It is the artist`s most famous work

In the second work David is anointed by the prophet Samuel at the command of God. . This occasion is narrated in  1 Samuel 16
"Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David."

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