After LUCA GIORDANO
1634 — Naples — 1705
The Triumph of Galatea, with Acis Transformed into a Spring
111/4 x 151/2" (285 x 395mm). inscirbed on the verso in chalk, Galatea. inscribed on the verso of the mat Paolo di Matteis (1662-1738).
This highly finished drawing is an exact copy of Luca's painting presently hanging in Palazzo Pitti, Florence. It was originally commissioned by Senator Ascanio Sanminiati in Florence (where it was noted already by 1677) though it had been painted in Naples, perhaps a year or two earlier. It was one of a superb group of paintings by Giordano painted in the 1670's in Naples and sent to patrons in northern Italy. Giordano replicated this painting a number of times, most noteably in the version at The Art Museum in Worcester, through the 1680's. Another version in the Hermitage has a spectacular frame of fish and dolphins which may have been designed by the artist. The Sanminiati/ Pitti version was especially inspirational on a generation of Florentine artists, like Gherardini and Sagrestani and was significant for the acceptance of baroque taste in Florence. One could postulate that the present drawing is Florentine, especially since the painting did not remain long in Naples to be admired there. In addition, the highly finished nature of the drawing, the incredibly controled use of chalk enabling the artist to convey every nuance of the painting, is more likely a product of the Florentine tradition of mastering Disegno. While it seems posible that this drawing was intended to be used by an engraver, I have not yet found any Italian engravings of the 17th or 18th centuries of it, only two that are both French eighteenth century. According to Livio Pestilli, "It is a fine drawing you have and I believe you are right: it was probably made in preparation for an engraving. I also agree that it was most likely made after the Pitti painting."1 Yet it is also possible that Luca had the painting copied perfectly in Naples so that he could refer to it as a model for future painted versions.
Galatea is an ancient Greek name meaning "she who is milk-white." Galatea is a sea-nymph or Nereid from Ovid's Metamorhosis; she loves Acis, a peasant shepherd. The scene depicted here is the last episode of their story in which the jealous Sicilain cyclops, Polyphemus had killed Acis. Galatea's Triumph was turning his blood into the Sicilian River Acis. Raphael's fresco of 1512 was the first modern rendition of the subject.
Ferrari & Scavizzi, Luca Giordano, Opera completa, 1992, Electa Napoli.