Christ among the Doctors
(Pier Leone Ghezzi)


As a painter Ghezzi is best known for his work in Roman churches, his frescoes in several villas on the outskirts of the city, and for a series of penetrating effigies in oils. Only recently has attention been given to the smaller canvases that he produced for private consumption (Clark, loc. cit.). The Christ among the Doctors (Luke 2:42-29) is one of the more notable examples of this type to have come to light. Ghezzi’s original approach to such hackneyed themes is here evidenced in the touching reticence with which Mary and Joseph intrude upon the scene. The sharp, contorted folds of drapery that give a sense of agitation to the Doctors, as well as the rather bright and transparent change of colours, belong to the style of his Pentecost, (See Fig.1.) a modello for a lost altarpiece in the Museo Correale of Sorrento (Schleier, loc. cit., fig. 7). However, the strong characterisation of the heads and attitudes of the figures is consonant with the vivid likenesses found in his caricature drawings and suggests a date of about 1725, contemporary with his crowded Lateran Council in the Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina.

39 ¾ x 63 in. 101 x 160 cm
Oil on canvas

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE: A. M. Clark. ‘Three Ghezzis’ in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin, LX, 1971-73 (1974), pp. 62-7; E. Schleier, ‘Un modello sconosciuto di Pier Leone Ghezzi’ in Antologia di Belle Arti, II, 1978, 7-8 pp. 293-6.


EXHIBITED: London, Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd., The Settecento: Italian Rococo and Early Neo-Classical Paintings 1700-1800, 4 Nov.- 20 Dec. 1987, no. 24, colour pl. 19.

Where is It?
Acquired from Matthiesen Gallery by private collector
Historical Period
Rococo - 1720-1780
Religious: New Testament
Italian - Roman
1987-The Settecento: Italian Rococo and Early Neoclassical Paintings,1700-1800.
An exhibition held on behalf of Aids Crisis Trust (UK) and The American Foundation for Aids Research (USA). Introduction by Charles McCorquordale. Essays by Francis Russell, Edgar Peters Bowron, and Catherine Whistler. 200 pages, 31 colour plates, 88 black and white illustrations. £15 or $23 inc. p.& p.

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Price band
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