Christ on the Hill at Calvary

Christ on the Hill at Calvary
Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (Italian, 1675-1741)
Oil on canvas 
32-3/8 x 46-3/4 in. (82.2 x 118.7 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

This grisaille, or monochromatic painting, is not unique in the oeuvre of Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, one of the most important Venetian history painters of the early eighteenth century. It may be a sketch for a larger composition. It may also be a complete work in its own right as the appreciation for drawings, and for paintings non finito (unfinished), were both subjects of growing appreciation among collectors. Though the liveliness of his brushwork and the flickering light effects would suggest otherwise, Pellegrini’s composition is highly orchestrated. The narrative is divided into four sections along the lines of a diagonal X. Each quadrant reveals a different episode leading towards Christ’s crucifixion in the center foreground. In the sophisticated choreography of figures and virtuoso handling of paint, the overall schema is operatic in its ambition, tempered only by recognition of the wrenching subject.

Pellegrini made many sojourns outside Italy to Austria, France, the Netherlands and England, where his graceful decorations were well-received by Europe’s aristocracy. In this regard, the artist became an important exponent of the Venetian Rococo style throughout Europe.


[London, Hazlitt Gallery; sold 1974 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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