“In the Light of Naples” tells vivid stories through Italian artist Francesco de Mura’s art from the 1700s by showcasing many of his key works — including numerous large, vibrantly colored paintings.
De Mura’s work portrays consistent religious themes. The detailed expression on the faces of the figures in his paintings gives the viewer a strong sense of what is happening in the intricate stories without even needing explanation.
His piece titled “The Annunciation” depicts the classic Christian story of Gabriel the angel coming to the virgin Mary to explain to her that she will be with child and that her child will be the son of God.
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Others depict God and Jesus as well as Christian saints and angels. A large painting from the exhibit, titled “Christ Receiving St. Joseph into Heaven with the Madonna and Saints”, is a portrayal of a number of well-known religious figures, including the Holy Trinity, Mary, Joseph, St. Benedict and a plethora of angels among clouds. Another painting of impressive size and detail on display is de Mura’s “The Vision of St. Benedict,” telling another religious story.
Among the works with religious references, however, are some pieces that seem to be more representative of life in Europe during de Mura’s time. His painting titled “Allegory of Autumn” depicts what seems to be a peasant woman, though seemingly wealthier than a peasant would have been, holding fruit and sweetly smiling.
While browsing the pieces in the exhibit, it is evident that de Mura’s style evolved over the course of his career as an artist. He introduced the style of Rococo to his work, which was an artistic movement of the late Baroque period, and later focused on neoclassical methods.
During World War II, a large portion of de Mura’s work was lost, but luckily the exhibit contains several preliminary sketches he made of paintings that were lost.
Viewing this display of famous works of art is an experience sure to provide new insight into visual art during the Baroque period.
Behind the development of the exhibition is Arthur Blumenthal, who was the first curator at the Chazen Museum of Art. “In the Light of Naples: the Art of Francesco de Mura” is on display in the Pleasant T. Rowland gallery of the Chazen Museum of Art from now until April 2, 2017.