Title: The Birth of the Virgin
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Image: 20 1/2 x 37 3/4 inches (52.1 x 95.9 cm)
Acquired through the Herbert F. Johnson, Class of 1922, Endowment
Corrado Giaquinto was considered by his contemporaries as one of the major artists of the Roman Rococo, a style characterized by a graceful linear quality and pastel palette. Born in the small town of Molfetta, Giaquinto arrived in Rome by way of Naples in 1723. There he began to establish a reputation as a ceiling painter, decorating the vaults of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In the later 1730s, he was comissioned to paint the decorations for the palace of Turin, and by the 1740s, he was considered the most important fresco painter in Rome, having completed the decoration of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, one of Rome's most important churches. His reputation was such that King Ferdinand IV of Spain asked him to be his court painter, a position he held from 1753 until shortly after Ferdinand's death in 1759, during which time he oversaw the decorations of the Royal Palace at Madrid. Returning to Italy in 1762, Giaquinto settled in Naples until his death in 1766, one month after completing the decoration of the new sacristy of San Luigi di Palazzo. The Birth of the Virgin is similar to a larger work of the same subject executed in 1751-52 for the Cathedral of Pisa. The Johnson Museum's painting owes its inspiration to the late seventeenth-century school of Naples and especially to the work of Luca Giordano. This work also bears affinities with Giaquinto's later Marriage of the Virgin, completed the year of his death. The Museum's painting, then, marks a midpoint in Giaquinto's career where, remembering the greats of the past like Giordano, he created compositions he would ultimately use for inspiration later in his life. (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," 1998)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.