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Agony & the Ecstasy:
Guido Reni's Saint Sebastians
Edited by Piero Boccardo & Xavier F. Salomon
Distributed By Trans-Atlantic Publications
128 Pages, Illustrated. 6 3/4 x 9 1/2"
$56.50 Paper original
For a long time questions surrounding the many versions of paintings by Guido Reni have been the center of a scholarly debate which still continues. Two paintings of Saint Sebastian, one at Dulwich Picture Gallery and the other at Palazzo Rosso in Genoa, showing different compositions but ascribable to the same period in Reni's career, are particularly important in terms of this issue as, besides the many copies after them, there are other versions reproducingone or the other's composition, the authorship of which has long been under discussion.
Are these 'originals', 'copies' or workshop pieces created under Reni's supervision? The Saint Sebastian on display in this exhibition - the paintings at Dulwich and Genoa will appear alongside another four examples of the subject from the Pinacoteca Capitolina inRome, the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the Museo Arte de Ponce, and the Aukland Art Gallery (New Zealand) - should be seen, instead, under a different light. The authors of this catalogue present here the scholarly views that have produced strikinglydiverse conclusions, providing details about the provenance of the works, their condition, and the results of technical analysis to further help the direct comparison offered by this exhibition.
Besides the historical and critical circumstances, other cultural aspects that relate to these works have been addressed. It is impossible not to discuss the fame of such beautiful images, especially considering how the iconography of the saint has developed in time. The catalogue entries on Guido Reni's Saint Sebastian are introduced by essays that explore the historical fortune and the iconography of the martyr as well as the importance of Saint Sebastian in the artist's oeuvre, the issues concerning 'original' andstudio works, the Bolognese painter's artistic evolution in the second decade of the seventeenth century, and the direct relationship between Reni and Genoese patrons.
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