GHERARDO POLI

(Florence 1676-Pisa, after 1739)

A Performance from the Commedia dell’Arte set in a Piazza

Oil on canvas

22 ¼ x 36 ¼ inches
(56.5 x 92 cm)

Provenance:

Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1924
Juan Manuel Acevedo Chevallier, Paris and Buenos Aires (until 1980); by descent to his daughter:
Estela Acevedo Anchorena, Countess Deym von Stritez (until 2012); thence her Estate until 2016

Exhibited:
 

De El Greco a Tiepolo, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, August 24-September 27, 1964, exh. cat., cat. no. 17 ill. as by Jacques Callot

Literature:

Franco Canepa, Gherardo e Giuseppe Poli; La pittura di Capriccio nella Toscana di primo settecento. Ospedaletto (Pisa) 2002, pp. 107-8, cat. no. 68 ill.

Franco Canepa, in Fantastiche Vedute dal Ciaffieri ai Poli; La pittura di capriccio in Toscana, ed. Pierluigi Carofano.  Ospedaletto (Pisa) 2006, pp. 150-151, cat. no. 78 ill.

 

Gherardo and Giuseppe Poli were father-and-son painters active in Pisa in the early eighteenth century.  As Franco Canepa has indicated (written communication, 2017), the present painting is an outstanding example of Gherardo’s capriccio compositions.  A town square of elaborate fanciful architecture is the setting for an outdoor stage on which a commedia dell’arte production takes place.  A large, somewhat boisterous, group of townspeople gather round the stage to watch the play, while others in groups go on about their businessThe performers include the masked figure of Pulcinella at the right, and at the far left Razullo, stroking an excessively long lute.  In a print by Jacques Callot (to whom the present painting was once attributed) a depiction of Razullo is set before an outdoor stage strikingly similar to that seen in the present work (see below).  As Canepa has pointed out, our painting is in many ways unique in Poli’s oeuvre, in that the curtain backdrop behind the actors is itself a capriccio of ancient buildings, much like those in the fictive town square in which the painting is set.