London exhibition tries to restore reputation for lost artist Castiglione


LONDON, Oct. 30 — Almost 350 years after the death of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, the Queen’s Gallery in the Buckingham Palace launched Britain’s first major show about the little-known artist.
The exhibition, Castiglione: Lost Genius, will be running from this Friday till March 16 next year, aiming at reinstate the painter’s reputation as one of the greatest draftsmen and print-makers of the Baroque with 90 drawings and prints.
“Castiglione’s troubled life cost him success and recognition in his lifetime, but I hope that we can rehabilitate his reputation and show that he is as innovative as some of the finest artists of today,” said Martin Clayton, head of prints and drawings at Royal Collection Trust.
Born in the metropolis of Genoa in Italy with an early exposure to artistic environment, Castiglione had specialized in portraying animals in his early years, which he painted with unusual technique of oil on paper. Because oil soaks easily, he had to paint quickly, usually without under-drawings.
When he moved to Rome, Castiglione began modeling his works on established artists, before arriving at his own unique style. His “Sacred and Profane Love” in mid-1630s was an adapted version from a painting by Venetian master Titian. However, his inexperience in drawing the nude and random scribbles of colors showed that Castiglione was still at his learning stage.
He also learned from Claude Lorrain the atmospheric light effects demonstrated in the latter’s work “The Flight into Egypt,” and followed Nicolas Poussin to depict mythological and religious subjects.
In his last years, Castiglione moved to use a wider range of colors, but his drawings became smaller and denser. The outlines were more dry and broken, and the figures blockier and more doll-like.
Clayton noted that Castiglione was quite an excellent artist, because using oil to paint on paper was difficult and no other artist at that time could regularly do so, especially without preparatory work.
In addition, Castiglione was interested in drawing oriental heads, which was perhaps inspired by traders from Africa and East around the Genoa port. He invented an etching technique of monotype so as to allow dramatic effects of light and dark.
His prints were influenced by famous painter Rembrandt, and a self-portrait in the late 1640s with velvet beret and ostrich plume was clearly based on the style of the Dutch master.
Although gifted, Castiglione was more feared than loved during his life time because of his violent and erratic character. He shot a fellow painter who mocked at his capability, and had bad relationship with patrons. He became a posthumous celebrity and George III in England bought a vast collection of his works. But he slipped into obscurity with the passing of time.
While the exhibition takes a look at the world of this lost artist, a parallel one at the Queen’s Gallery showed to visitors more than 100 works on paper presented by the Royal Academy of Arts to the Queen last year to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.
“On the surface these two exhibitions might seem very different, but they are surprisingly complementary,” said Clayton. “Both show the work of artists who have pushed the boundaries.”[db:内容2]