Adoration of the Shepherds
(Odoardo Perini)


This work has in the past been attributed to both Francesco Maffei and Girolamo Brusaferro, a mistaken attribution in both cases, but understandable if one observes the loose brushstrokes between certain figures that seem to dissolve the outlines reminiscent of the Vicenzian master. On the other hand the painting is similar to the style of the Venetian Brusaferro enabling one to place the picture in the early Settecento.

The painting risks being misunderstood, and merits further attention. The fluid colour is applied with large brushstrokes, which is unusual for a painting on a copper, shows an artist who is very secure in his drawing and his composition. The scene in the foreground is closed in vertically by the pillar and the stable, elements which draw the eye towards the opening of the landscape with the atmospheric tone of the intense blue.

The composition recalls similar inventions of Jacopo Bassano, but above all Paolo Veronese. The drawing of the roundish heads and the light chromatic range can be compared to the Adoration of the Magi in the Prague Castle and the Church of San Giuseppe di Castello in Venice. There is a reuse of placing the figures close to the architecture, resulting in an earlier substantially more rustic outdoor ambience. This can also be seen in Alvise de Friso and Benedetto Caliari’s works in the veronese manner.

A certain neo-cinquecentesque finish in an elegant and anti naturalistic manner, from the intertwining strokes and the strong tonality with an Emilian character places the picture sometime between the Sei and the Settecento. With such comparisons it would be appropriate to suggest an artist of Veronese provenance in association with the artistic sensibility of the Bolognese generation of the late XVII century, especially as the master in question uses a warmer palette and more intense and broken tonality.

Although one should always he careful when comparing the works on copper with those on canvas, there is an obvious relationship between the example in question and other works of Odoardo Perini, a veronese artist who worked in Bologna with Giovanni Maria Viani. Sergio Martinelli in reconstructing the biographical and artistic development of Perini attributes to him the Giove and Semele in the Museum of Castelvecchio (Verona), previously attributed to Marco Ricci, Giambattista Pittoni. Antonio Balestra and the circle of the Gandolfis.

The artist’s style continuously develops throughout his career tackling ever more arduous compositions such as the altar-piece the Miracle of San Domenico in the Veronese church of San Domenico – c. 1720 – or in the later ceiling of the venetian School of San Giovanni Evangelista of 1730. Our painting reminds one of earlier veronese works and the pictoral interpretations of Francesco Maffei. and also of his contemporary Antonio Balestra as well as some of the experimental works of Odoardo Perini prior to 1720. This is therefore a moment immediately before the altarpiece in the Church of S. Domenico and also of the signed and dated works (1720) in the parish of Mazzurega removed from the Church of San Gregono in Verona. There are also other ways in which this Adoration of the Shepherds can he attributed to the hand of Perini; the particular pose of the Madonna, slightly reclining her head, the particular physical type of the cherubs and the way in which the profiles are extenuated, with their softened outlines, comparable to the Sant’Antonio da Padova in Mazzurega and the heads of the Shepherds on the left of our Adoration. A drawing for an unknown religious composition (Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona inv. 84) by Odoardo Perini, demonstrates similar analogies between the foreshortened faces of the head of Joseph.

40.5 x 58.5 cm.
Oil on canvas
Historical Period
Baroque - 1600-1720
Historical events
Italian - Venetian
Price band
Sold or not available