Luigi Garzi (Pistoia 1638 – Rome 1721), Alpheus and Arethusa

Artist: LUIGI GARZI (Pistoia 1638 – Rome 1721)
Title: Alpheus and Arethusa
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 121 x 171 cm
Period: 1705-10 ca

This large canvas by Luigi Garzi depicting the lesser-known mythological story of Alpheus and Arethusa, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, recently became the object of an in-depth scientific and iconographic study by Stefania Macioce and it appears on the cover-page of the first monograph ever dedicated to the artist, edited by Francesco Grisolia and Guendalina Serafinelli for “i tipi” of Officina Libraria.

Moving to Rome at a very young age, Garzi first trained at the workshop of the landscape-artist Salomone Boccali, before continuing his apprenticeship under the guidance of Andrea Sacchi.

The artist’s first documented works date back to the 1770s and include public commissions (San Marcello al Corso, Santa Caterina in Magnanapoli, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Santi Ambrogio and Carlo al Corso) and private (Palazzo Borghese); these prestigious commissions helped to extend his fame beyond the city’s borders and to later work for lengthy periods of time in the 1790s in Naples (Santa Caterina a Formiello, Galleria del Principe di Cellamare, Palazzo Reale and San Carlo all ‘ Arena).

In his long and prolific career he enjoyed a wealth of official recognition: in 1670 he became an academic at San Luca, later to become Principal of that same Academy in 1682. In 1680, and in 1702, he was also regent at the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi al Pantheon, the first association of artists in Rome, created in 1543 with the authorisation of Pope Paul III.

The Alpheus and Arethusa at the Giamblanco Gallery dates back to the first decade of the 18th century, when Garzi would have returned to Rome after his stay in Campania, and it constitutes one of his top pictorial productions, combining his Emilian and Marattesc classicist orientation with the influences of the work of Nicolas Poussin. The elegance of the chiastic arrangement of the figures is associated with an extremely refined chromatic palette, skilfully counterpointing between the red and blue that distinguish and differentiate the male and female components.

Click HERE for a full description in the Catalogue Twenty-five years of activity 2017/2018, pg. 54-55.

Bibliography: S. Macioce, Il mito di Alfeo e Aretusa. Appunti d’iconografia, in Luigi Garzi 1638-1721. Pittore Romeno, edited by F. Grisolia and G. Serafinelli, Milan 2018, pp. 145-159.