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Art in Eighteenth-Century Rome


Corrado Giaquinto
Malfetta 1703­–1765 Naples


The Trinity Crowning the Virgin

oil on canvas
39 x 25 1/2 inches
99 x 65 cm



Rolland Collection, London, by 1958
Sotheby’s, New York, Old Master Paintings, 11 January 1990, lot 113
Private Collection, New York



Mario d’Orsi, Corrado Giaquinto, Rome, 1958, p. 120, reproduced fig. 153.


Lent by Mrs. Judith Taubman

Giaquinto’s art epitomizes the struggle in the Roman settecento between classicism and the Rococo. Giaquinto trained in Naples in the orbit of Francesco Solimena (1657–1747), who himself briefly came to Rome, and who would exert a lasting influence on Giaquinto. The younger Neapolitan came to Rome in 1723 and stayed until 1753 when he accepted Ferdinand VI’s invitation to paint for him in Madrid. Clark describes Giaquinto as a Roman artist at heart; however, he was fundamentally more eclectic. He was steeped in the Neapolitan style of Solimena, but visited the Savoy court in Turin for extended periods in the 1730s where he absorbed the florid colorism and Rococo exuberance of artists such as the Venetian Sebastiano Ricci and Giovanni Battista Crosato and the French brothers Carle and Jean-Baptiste Vanloo. Giaquinto synthesized their diverse approaches with the traditional Roman Grand Manner exemplified in the seicento by Domenichino and later by Maratti.

Giaquinto’s greatest achievements came in Rome in the 1740s. In 1740–41 he painted a series of majestic altarpieces, frescoed ceilings and apse decorations for S. Giovanni Calibita, church of the Hospital of the Sacred Heart. It includes a tondo-shaped fresco of the Trinity which closely relates to a painting of the same subject in the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester (1981.2) as well as to a vertical Holy Trinity with Souls in Purgatory purchased by Anthony Clark for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1968 (68.2). The Trinitarians were avid patrons of Giaquinto which accounts for his frequent depiction of the Holy Trinity as a subject, his most important example being the dramatic nave decoration for Santa Croce in Gerusalemme representing the Emperor Constantine Presented to the Trinity by his Mother Saint Helena, for which there is a large modello in the Saint Louis Art Museum (31:1963). His final work in Rome was the high altar of Santa Trinità degli Spagnoli, also a depiction of the Trinity. After that, he worked in a frothier style for the court in Madrid, where he was ultimately replaced by the more up-to-date Neoclassical painter Anton Raphael Mengs (see cat. 11 and 14) in 1762; he returned to Naples where he died in 1766.

Corrado Giaquinto, The Trinity with Souls in Purgatory, early 1740s, oil on canvas, 39 x 29 1/8 inches (99.06 x 73.98 cm), Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota, no. 68.2

This superb modello is dated by Irene Cioffi to the decade of Giaquinto’s Roman period, ca. 1740. It has a greater richness of palette than the Santa Croce ceiling but shares with it the dramatic downward distribution of light. As in so many of Giaquinto’s depictions of the Trinity, the figure of Christ is modeled with the sort of strong chiaroscuro that comes directly from the painter who was probably, in the end, Giaquinto’s greatest single influence, his fellow Neapolitan, Francesco Solimena.❖

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