Allegory of Time Louis Dorigny
The work in question hosts an ambitious allegorical scene, in which Time, played by an old man, is overwhelmed by two young women, identifiable in Hope and Beauty. Together with Cupid, impersonated by the child on the extreme right, they want to celebrate a precise sphere of values, destined to triumph over the oblivion.
The ambitious composition is one of the rare works performed by Louis Dorigny (Paris, 1654- Verona, 1742), French painter adopted by the Serenissima, where he moved permanently since 1678, famous for his decorative cycles, which made him the protagonist of the second Seventeenth century in Venice (frescoes for the Manin and Ca 'Tron families).
The son of the engraver Michel Dorigny and nephew of Simon Vouet, Dorigny decides to transfer the values ??of French classicism to the lagoon but with the stylistic elements and the chromatic palette that reveal, instead, in a clear way, the Venetian cultural climate, characterized by a rapid drafting and a pathos in the execution completely extraneous to transalpine inspiration.
The Dorigny soon abandons the native country, leaving Paris in favor of Rome at the age of nineteen (1671).
Italy was the usual destination for the most promising young French artists and, in the case of Dorigny, his talent was combined with an undisputed birth privilege, which saw him as the son of the painter and engraver Michel (Saint-Quentin, 1616 - Paris, 1665), as well as the nephew of Simon Vouet (Paris, 1590-1649), the undisputed protagonist of the Grand Siecle. The fame of the latter had soon crossed the Alps to spread to the whole of Europe through the engravings, not sparing Venice that, although physiologically not inclined to the magniloquent classicism of the master, shows appreciation of the themes, as an engraving tells us by Joseph Wagner (Thalendorf, 1706- Venice, 1780), depicting the Madonna della Rosa.
The palates of the clients, however, were already accustomed to such contaminations, occurred thanks to the contribution of foreign painters passing through or stationed in the capital of the lagoon, as happened for Dorigny, who moved there in 1678. The moment was important as the taste was structured in a humus devoid of solid references autochthonous, which was added to the echo of important experiences, such as the role of official rector at the court of Versailles played by a member of the Comaro family at the end of the seventeenth century . At the same time, the presence of the famous French intellectual Charles Patin (Paris, 1633 - Padua, 1693) in Padua during the same period, represented a direct incentive for the success of transalpine art and respect for the clients.
Louis's brush seduces the Venetian nobility, who commissions important decorative apparatuses for his private palaces and chapels, including the frescoes for Ca 'Tron like the intervention at the votive chapel erected by the Manins inside the church of Santa Maria di Nazareth.
To decree the success of the young artist between the waters of the Lagoon were not the Roman Baroque accents, but rather the peculiar classicist vocation of Gallic matrix, which knew how to confer to the aristocratic celebratory systems that their customers wanted, or the figurative legitimacy of their own role through good design. This expressive specificity, ably exercised by our painter, is the key to a long-lasting and consolidated fortune, which will lead him to Padua, Udine, Bergamo and Verona, where he moved to death (1742), not giving up, however, a stay Viennese (1711) commissioned by Eugene of Savoy, who had requested his intervention to fresco his palace in winter.
The feverish activity linked to the decorative systems necessarily limited the production of easel works, which are very rare. But the appearance of paintings like the one in question is even more appreciated, to be considered a real "milestone" for the artistic biography of Louis, who engages in a large format canvas with an ambitious subject.
The composition houses, in fact, an Allegory in which Time (Satumo), depicted as an old man with wings, who, forced on the ground, is overwhelmed by two women, personifications of Venus (god of love) and of Hope, who try, together with Cupid, to tear off his wings, to defeat him. Above them two angels with the trumpet celebrate their triumph, to represent the strength of the feelings with respect to the oblivion.
The inventio derives from a masterpiece of Simon Vouet executed in 1645 and currently at the museum of Berry, in Bourges, of which Michel Dorigny made the engraving in 1646, accompanying it with an exhaustive caption:
Spes Amor atque Venus Saturnum Vellere plumas certant raptorem airipiunque suum
Hope and love fight with saturn to tear off his feathers and contend their captor.
Our artist accurately reproduced the table, to practice in view of the execution on canvas, as we are handed down a drawing received together with the work object of the present study, which also reproduces the entire caption with the addition of a further chronological reference, that is, the date 1688. In that year, therefore, the master was preparing the ambitious pictorial essay, to which, however, he made some changes with respect to the printing, recognizable in the rationalization of the decorative tinsel on the base of the column and the omission of the trident (attribute of the dominion that the divinity exercised on the sea, besides on the sky and on the earth) to the feet of Saturn.
The pictorial technique, loose and fluid, expresses the adhesion of its creator to the Venetian cultural climate, to which he refers, moreover, to the physiognomy of the putto on the extreme right, very different from the prototype and full of pulsating luminism. In the chromatic register, where the intensity of red and blue melts in sloping pastel hues, it is possible to glimpse the germs of the eighteenth-century incendant, who will shortly animate the canvases of the great figures of the Serenissima, starting with Antonio Balestra ( Verona, 1666-1740), which shares many stylistic and formal ingredients with Dorigny.
Returning to the thematic specificity of our great canvas, we can not exclude from underlining the philological importance of this exquisite, highly appreciable representation as a pictorial document of Venetian aesthetics rich in charm and interest.
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Mr. Riccardo Moneghini
Old Master Paintings Expert - Art Historian