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Ciro Ferri

Head of a Beared Man Looking to Upper Left, 1600's

Ciro (Italian for Cyrus) Ferri, born in 1634, was the disciple of Pietro da Cortona, leading painter of the early Baroque. Ferri is not well known outside of Italy except for some of his drawings at the Met, which are remarkably astute and full of character. Notice the interesting angle of the man above, how he uses foreshortening to define the character and the action. I love how Ferri uses subtle strokes of white to heighten the form. Drawing such as this never ceases to inspire me.

Head of a Woman,1600's

Capturing the expression of a woman lost in thought here, seems to have a poetry all its own. A painting is not required here.

Chastity of Joseph, ca.1650's

Look at this tantalizing display of color and dynamics. A backdrop of red defines the lust of the woman reaching out for him. The choice of blue and yellow is unique and appealing. Note the marble floor with tiles in perspective and the scene outdoors behind them through the window. Ferri was also a sculptor and the way he poses his figures are evident here.

Ciro Ferri 002
Miracle of St. Martin of Tours, ca.1650

A small sample but the power of this composition does not diminish. Look at the poses and you can see the influence of Raphael and Leonardo. Crowding the scene may seem counterintuitive but here it brings a realness to the painting that would be lacking without it. Note how Ferri had each figure looking in a particular direction to avoid a banal arrangement and keeps the eye flowing around the painting, even though the main figure is the measuring point of the composition. There is plenty to learn about group figures here. There are triangles all over this arrangement. This is a painting to see in person.

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