Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Giuseppe Maria Crespi

Giuseppe Maria Crespi, Bookshelves, 1725

Although Crespi was a fine portrait painter, he is best known for his lively, informally posed scenes of daily life, which influenced artists throughout Europe in the later eighteenth century. Crespi also worked in genre painting and his Bookshelves makes a fine addition to his hefty oeuvre. At once immediate and timeless, this study of an overflowing set of bookshelves demonstrates Crespi's gift for showing life in the inanimate and for enriching a subtle palette with warm, diffuse light.

The books, all bound in a rich leather, blend with the hues of the woodgrain in the shelves themselves. They are full of dusty tomes on music and scores that have been hastily consulted and shoved back. Crespi continues the compliment of mild tones with the addition of an amber-colored bong. And as a flourish, in contrast to the notes of pulp and flesh, he offers a set of expired Domino's Pizza coupons that, like the books, have gone neglected after their initial use.

The work was probably commissioned by Giovan Battista Martini, a famous Bolognese musicologist who was respected and feared across Europe as a music critic.

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