Adoration of the Magi
Date ca. 1545
Artist:Giovan Filippo Criscuolo, Italian, 1495-1584
Dimensions Overall: 60 x 33 1/2 in. (152.4 x 85.1 cm) Overall, Frame: 95 3/4 x 45 in. (243.2 x 114.3 cm)
Medium Oil on panel
Credit Line Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
Description This is an oil on panel painting. Three kings-- the young Moor Balthasar, the middle-aged Melchior and the grey-bearded Caspar-- present gifts to the Christ child. Flattened, bright forms fill the painting.
Published ReferencesSotheby's Auction Catalogue. "Neapolitan School, Sixteenth Century," AUCTION. London: Sotheby's. 03/27/1974: p. 50, no. 91.
Giovanni Previtali. _La Pitura del Cinquecento a Napoli nel Vicereame_. Turin, 1978, p. 19.
Eric M. Zafran. "Italian Painting Added to Collection," _Chrysler Museum Bulletin_. Vol. 7, no. 10. Norfolk: Chrysler Museum. 10/1978.
Jefferson C. Harrison. "Italian Art - Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century," _The Chrysler Museum Gallery Guide_. Norfolk, VA: Chrysler Museum. 1987: no. 15.
Jefferson C. Harrison. _The Chrysler Museum Handbook of the European and American Collections: Selected Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings_. The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA, 1991, p. 11, #10.
Don Harrison, "Art Unveiled," _Coastal Virginia Magazine,_ April 2014, 50.
Inscriptions Label verso: "Richard Feizer, New York"
Provenance Saint Albans Church, Bradford, England; Auctioned London, Sotheby's, March 27, 1974 (cat. no. 91); Richard Feigen Gallery, New York; Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.; Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. to the Chrysler Museum, 1978.
Current Location Chrysler Museum of Art, Gallery 204
Catalog Entry Giovan Filippo Criscuolo Italian, 1495-1584 Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1545 Oil on panel, 60" x 33½" (152.4 x 85 cm) Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., 78.294 Reference: Giovanni Previtali. _La Pitura del Cinquecento a Napoli nel Vicereame_. Turin, 1978, p. 19. The Neapolitan school of painting began its rise to international prominence somewhat belatedly, in the first decades of the seventeenth century. Previously Naples had been a provincial art center, its painters influenced and overshadowed by the traditionally more progressive schools of Florence and Rome. As did many of his sixteenth-century colleagues, the Neapolitan Criscuolo no doubt visited Rome. There, his art was transformed by Raphael's High Renaissance paintings and by the Mannerist works of Raphael followers like Perino del Vaga. Returning to Naples, he devised a version of Roman Mannerism that made him one of the mores sophisticated painters in that still parochial center. As his career progressed, Criscuolo - and the Neapolitan school with him - embraced more fully the tenets of the Roman and Florentine high _maniera_ (later Mannerist style), prompted no doubt by visits from itinerant painters like Giorgio Vasari in 1544. A work of Crisculo's early post-Roman maturity, the undated _Adoration of the Magi_ has been placed by scholars in the mid-1540s on the strength of its strong stylistic resemblance to the artist's 1545 _Adoration with the Trinity_ in the Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Naples. In the _Adoration of the Magi_, Criscuolo reshapes the art of Perino del Vaga in more current _maniera_ style, creating an elegant image of self conscious grace, of characteristically compressive _maniera_ forms and surface suavity. The artist's essentially two dimensional design is particularly pronounced in the forms of the three kings, which have been flattened against the picture plane in a dense pattern of sinuous line and shifting color and texture. As they present their gifts to the Child, the three kings - the young Moor Balthasar, the middle-aged Melchior and the grey bearded Caspar - proclaim the allegiance of all earthly rulers to the divine King of Kinds. Symbolizing this act of fealty is the crown that the eldest magus has pulled from his head and placed on the steps beneath Christ's feet. Its piers crumbling and overgrown with vines, the architectural ruin behind the Holy Family serves as a venerable Christian symbol for the old Jewish law, which was "destroyed" by the coming of Christ. Though based ultimately on High Renaissance canons, the faces and forms of Virgin and child have been keyed to a sharper _maniera_ pitch and, thus, exhibit a more rarified and eccentric kind of beauty. Remarkable, too, are Criscuolo's palette of acidic blues, greens and yellows and the snarling griffin carved from the leg of Christ's throne. Criscuolo's paintings are rare in American collections, and the _Adoration of the Magi_ offers a unique and exceptionally fine example of provincial Italian response to Roman high style in the mid-sixteenth century. Jefferson C. Harrison. _The Chrysler Museum Handbook of the European and American Collections: Selected Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings_. The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA, 1991, p. 11, #10.
Object Label Giovan Filippo Criscuolo Italian, 1495–1584 Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1545 Oil on wood By the mid-1500s, many Italian artists had adopted the so-called Mannerist style. In contrast to the Renaissance ideal of balanced naturalism, this style was characterized by highly finished surfaces, exaggerated contours, complex compositions, and impossibly bright colors in unusual combinations. Here the artist crowds the Magi, a helmeted soldier, the Holy Family, and a carved stone lion together beneath a crumbling arch. The resulting mood is both elegant and edgy. Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. 78.294
Object Number 78.294