Recent Acquisitions - 4 of 12
Juno Swears to Avenge the Death of Almo and Galesus
Pen and brown and gray ink and brush and brown and gray wash, over black chalk, heightened with white, on thick ivory wove paper, laid down on artist’s mount
Sheet: 24 3/16 x 33 1/8 in. (61.5 x 84.1 cm); artist’s mount: 24 1/8 x 34 5/8 in. (61.3 x 88 cm)
Acquired by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2009
Bartolomeo Pinelli was widely celebrated during his lifetime for his popular, often satirical prints and drawings that chronicled the sites and costumes of his native Rome. Yet some of his best works were those executed outside of the commercial sphere, such as personal genre scenes or overtly literary subjects worthy of large-scale history paintings. Along with Felice Giani (1758–1823), Henry Fuseli (1741–1825), and other artists working in Rome during the first decades of the nineteenth century, Pinelli adopted an enervated, linear drafting style to depict obscure passages from ancient history and mythology, bridging the stylistic and conceptual divide between Neoclassicism and Romanticism. This immense drawing, one of two recently acquired sheets by the artist, depicts a passage from Book 7 of Virgil’s Aeneid. Attempting to disrupt the prophecy that Aeneas, the Trojan hero, would establish the city of Rome, the goddess Juno incites warfare between Aeneas’s followers and the peaceful residents of Latium, the Italian region in which the Trojans arrive after fleeing the destruction of their city by the Greeks. The pointless nature of this violence born of the goddess’s spite is underlined by the dramatic deaths of two Latin farmers, the youthful Almo and the elderly Galesus. The composition is divided between a warm brown foreground, dominated by the idealized bodies of the honorable Latins, and cooler gray background, over which Juno presides in her chariot drawn by peacocks. Because Pinelli made a series of etched illustrations for a new verse translation of the Aeneid in 1811, the later dating of the Clark’s drawings suggests that he executed the larger, finished works after his own design.