B. Guidobono - Allegoria della Primavera
(Savona, 1654 - Torino, 1709)
Allegoria della Primavera / Allegory of Spring, 1705-1709
oil on canvas, cm. 190 x 176
Milano, Collezione d’arte della Fondazione Cariplo
The painting was bought in 1985 from the Genoese collector Aldo Zerbone, who in the letter offering the work for sale suggests it is by Bartolomeo Guidobono, a painter from Savona who, together with his brother Domenico, was first active in Liguria and later in Turin.
Subsequent literature, with the exception of Bona Castellotti’s text, agrees with this attribution. It must be said, however, that the recent monograph by Mary Newcome Schleier makes no mention of the work. This canvas is without any doubt by Guidobono and one of his finest works. The artist generally tended to produce more large-scale works, frescoes and large canvases than easel paintings.
This piece dates from the artist’s mature period when he was the painter at the Savoy court in Turin and, influenced by French art, he began to produce airy compositions with abundant elegant details, which were a prelude to the triumph of Rococo.This painting bears convincing similarities to The Apartment of Madame Felicita in Turin, as Spiriti suggests, as well as to two canvases in a private collection Daphne Appearing to the Sleeping Endymion and Jupiter in the Guise of Diana with Calixtus. The superb facture, enriched by the use of soft shades and delicate chiaroscuro suggests that the work was executed for an official commission, probably for a member of the royal family.
Andrea Spiriti advances an unusual and fascinating iconographic interpretation of the subject suggesting it is Persephone crowned by Triptolemus, an erudite choice that would match the quality of the painting. It might also be a version of the more common theme of Venus dressing with the help of Cupid. The figures’ knowing glances make me opt for the latter interpretation. The captivating treatment of the subject, the skilful composition and the attention to detail make Allegory of Spring one of the masterpieces in the Cariplo Collection. The touch of melancholy in the goddess’s gaze seems to indicate an awareness of fleeting happiness, of a life whose ending is not yet defined, along a treelined avenue.