Still life with flowers and fruits outdoors – Francesco Duramano

Francesco Duramano (former Master of the Guardeschi Flowers) Venice, first half of the 18th century.
Oil on canvas

Description:

The still life is depicted in an external environment, albeit without a landscape background: on a clayey and barren ground rest a metal vase shaped like an amphora and some architectural ruins or boulders squared by the hand of man, all in the same chromatic range of reddish brown; in the middle, a disordered variety of small multicolored flowers, wild and weed seedlings, of which a large bunch overflowing from the central vase, many instead scattered on the ground, already picked or still buried, emerging from the ruins and cracks in the ground. On the ground, on the left, there are two pears, isolated; on the right flutter, read, two dragonflies.

The upper half of the background is monochromatic albeit faded, of a green-blue color that recalls an evening sky, but completely devoid of naturalistic elements.

The sharp chromatic contrast between the two parts separated transversely is peculiar, which creates two different backgrounds for the bright colors of the flowers: the darker and solid one of the earth in the lower part, the luminous and nuanced one of the sky in the upper part.

The painting has been relined, it is in very good condition, with some imperceptible traces of repainting; presented in a non-coeval frame.

Dimensions: 90 x 140 cm

Historical-critical analysis:

According to the expertise of Gianluca Bocchi, this still life, datable to the first half of the eighteenth century, belongs to that large production of canvases with floral subjects that were made at that time in Venice and assigned to the production of the Master of the Guardeschi flowers, that is to that conspicuous series of works all characterized by a delicacy of line, by a compositional lightness and by an apparent asymmetry in the structure of the parts, attributed for a long time, still in the late 1900s, to the famous Venetian artist Francesco Guardi.

According to Bocchi, in reality, the production including the work proposed here was carried out before that of Guardi, who only began to deal with this theme around 1750, but it is rather attributable to the Venetian workshop belonging to the Duramano family.

Founded in the last quarter of the seventeenth century by the mysterious Madama Duramano, the shop reached its apex with her son Francesco, specializing in the production and trade of floral paintings. As Bocchi also recalls in his appraisal, Guarienti’s description of him in the middle of the century is emblematic, praising his pictorial virtuosity and his fortune on the international market, being in great demand by important international collectors.

Our painting presents fully recognizable and peculiar stylistic characteristics of Francesco’s production, characterized by chromatic freshness, scenic luminism and virtuosity typical of the Rococo taste. The scenography used is typically Venetian, with square rocks infested with plants and wild flowers and on which there are metal plates and vases with floral compositions. The background is neutral, made on a budget and therefore characterized by a gray-blue tone with reddish marbling.

These scenographic compositions were often made to be inserted in boiserie or in wall frames, as airy and bright decorative elements in the most typical Rococo style. Often in these compositions there were also animals, also present in our painting in the form of two charming dragonflies.

Bibliography:

-G Bocchi, I pittori di fiori a Venezia nella prima metà del Settecento. Il ruolo dominante di Francesco Duramano, in Francesco Guardi nella terra degli avi. Dipinti di figura e capricci floreali , Trento, Castello del Buonconsiglio, 6 ottobre 2012 – 6 gennaio 2013, Trento 2012.

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