Friday, October 15, 2010

Memorial Day

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (" Il Guercino")(1591-1666)
The Appearance of Christ to St Teresa of Avila 1634
Oil on canvas
298 cm x 202 cm
Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, il Guercino (1591-1666)
Christ appearing to Saint Teresa
Red chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash, watermark helmet in a shield
12¼ x 9¼ in. (312 x 234 mm.)
Private collection

One of the  preparatory drawings for the painting now in the Musée Granet was auctioned by Christies in 2001 in New York

"The picture is recorded in Guercino's Libro dei Conti on 5 January 1634 and on 18 August 1634, ...

The first entry concerns the commission for a 'Tavola di Santa Teresia per il Sigr. Lumaga di lione di Francia da cordo in ducatni 400'.

On 18 August payment was registered, and the picture was probably finished.

The picture was then sent to Barthélémy Lumagne in Lyon, who hung it in his family chapel in the Church of the Carmelites.

It was transfered to Paris during the French Revolution and then sent to Aix-en-Provence in 1821.

Drawings related to this composition are at Windsor Castle (D. Mahon and N. Turner, op. cit., nos. 78-82), in the Seattle Art Museum, Washington (D.M. Stone, op. cit., no. 31), in the British Museum, London, in the Teyler Museum, Haarlem, in Cento and in Angers."


  1. I don't know whether this is the "right" aesthetic reaction, but I much prefer the preparatory sketch to the finished canvas.

    Had I the cash (!) I would have outbid the Musée Granet.

  2. Unfortunately I would have to agree

    I would suspect that the final composition had to be approved by the patron and the Carmelite authorities at the Church in Lyon before the finished article was painted and then delivered

    The finished article looks rather staged and didactic particularly in the pose of the Christ.

    I find the portrait of St Teresa more attractive in the sketch than in the finished work. It has a vulnerable quality about the face as if she is genuinely surprised and taken aback by the vision. The same cannot be said about the St Teresa in the finished article.