(Temesvar 1860 - Roma 1933)
Preparatory study for the painting "The tenth plague of Egypt"
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19.2 x 29.7 cm
On the back: architectural study in pencil; stamps of the Galleria Carlo Virgilio for the exhibition on the painter held in Rome from 10 December 1981 to 16 January 1982 with reference number (2).
Rome, Galleria Prencipe, 2019.
Un coup de coeur. Grafica tra Italia e Francia dalla raccolta di Bruno Mantura, exhibition catalog edited by T. Sacchi Lodispoto, S. Spinazzè, Rome, Galleria Prencipe, 14 February - 16 March 2019, p. 70. n. 19.
Exponent of that generation of artists born around the 1860s, who knew how to transfigure the formation academic through works of strong visionary and symbolic charge, Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl in 1882 won the Rompreis of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna with The entrance of the Goths in Rome and moved to the eternal city, where it underwent the charm of the ancient and dealt with classical and neo-Pompeian subjects. Successful painter, he was later awarded with numerous awards: in 1889 he obtained the Reichel prize for Santa Cecilia , in 1891 the Kaisepreis for Wedding procession in ancient Rome , in 1892 the silver medal in Vienna for Prometheus , in 1893 the Erzherzog Karl Ludwig prize for Venus & nbsp; and in 1898 the gold medal for the great exhibition for the Fiftieth anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph with The souls of the Acheron. The catastrophic themes linked to moments of transition are one of the leitmotifs of the years of his formation from the Entry of the Goths in 1882 to The plague in Rome, which he crowned in 1884 the two years of the Capitoline alumnus. A trip to Egypt also dates back to this period, which inspired the artist, at the time decidedly oriented towards the Neo-Pompeian genre, the painting The tenth plague of Egypt, of which only two large fragments and the preparatory study. The extreme philological care in the historical reconstruction, which underlies the production of the period, also characterizes this work of Verdi atmospheres, which translates the biblical narrative of the Exodus into images. The last and tenth plague is the death that seizes every firstborn male of Egypt. The sketch allows you to reconstruct the appearance of the documented painting still intact and without a frame from a photo taken in the artist's studio. The pharaoh, rising in the middle of the night, discovers the lifeless body of his son and is seized by despair together with the members of his court. The composition focuses on the figure of the pharaoh who, after the tragic event, resolves to send Moses and the Jews to go to the promised land. The dignitaries are arranged around the throne. The massive column, placed in the foreground to visually involve the viewer, denotes a direct knowledge of Egyptian antiquities, which also occurs in Funeral in Ancient Egypt (private collection), a contemporary or slightly later work. The dramatic tone is reinforced by the naked woman, who indulges in despair at the foot of the pharaoh's throne. The female figure closes the space horizontally according to a style of Böcklinian ancestry, which recurs in subsequent works of equal dramatic charge, such as Ahasuerus at the end of the world (private collection). It is interesting to note how, following the precepts of the academic tradition, this figure was studied naked and then covered with a cloth only during the execution of the painting. The two fragments of the large canvas depict the pharaoh enthroned with his son abandoned on his knees and the woman, perhaps the child's mother, who is in despair on the left. Hirémy-Hirschl describes the nuances of the drama through the expressiveness of faces and bodies. The statuesque composure of the male figure, who looks straight ahead, impenetrable and petrified, immobile as the lifeless body of the child is, constitutes a counterpoint to the female figure, which arches the back and expresses pain in a dynamic way through the tension of the child. body and the distorted expression of the face.
Teresa Sacchi Lodispoto