Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

More Old Master Drawings

There is nothing in all the world more beautiful or significant of the laws of the universe than the nude human body.
Robert Henri








Charles Louis Müller, A Standing Female Nude Leaning Against an Arch, ca.1864

Once again I decided to talk about some Old Master drawings and delve into the thinking behind how these drawings may have been created and the knowledge of the artist. In the above drawing by Müller, done in sanguine with white chalk highlights, the figure is drawn from a low view-point, with her body twisting toward her left side while resting on one knee. Note how Müller alternates the bent right leg with the bent left arm to create dynamic contrast. The right arm is also foreshortened and partially in shadow. Expressing power and femininity, this is a study that is Renaissance in spirit, even Mannerist, revealing the female nude as sculptural yet always graceful.







Anton Raphael Mengs, Seated male nude viewed from the back, 1755

One of several Academic nude studies by Mengs, this …

Guercino il Magnifico

Self-Portrait of the Artist holding a Palette, ca.1635


Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino was born on February 8, 1591 in Cento, a small city near Ferrara. He is one of the great masters of the Italian Baroque and poet of painters. Noted for his speed and efficiency, Guercino also worked in a number of mediums with equal passion whether ink, chalk, charcoal, or oils. His nickname, which means 'little cross-eyes' in Italian, derives in part from an apocryphal childhood accident where he supposedly awoke from a deep sleep as a child from a loud scream that caused his eyes to cross. Another story says something was thrown into his eyes. At any rate, he was self-taught as an artist from as early as nine years old and by his early teens was discovered by the eldest of the Carracci where he would spend some time at the Accademia Degli Incamminati before venturing out on his own. Despite his apparent 'handicap', his vision and talent would make him a giant that few…

Old Master Drawings

Drawing is not the form; it is the way of seeing the form.
Degas



A male nude from behind, c.1630 Gian Lorenzo Bernini

In this blog I talk about painting but the importance of drawing cannot be understated of course, and I believe we can learn just as much from studying their techniques of line and strokes as we can from brushstrokes...more in most cases as the drawing is more expressive and intimate. It reveals the personality and character of the artist.

The above drawing apparently comes from the period of Bernini's teaching at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, one of four from the exact same model. This drawing is fairly big for a study, at 55.6 x 42cm (21 x 16 inches). Consider Michelangelo's study for Libyan Sibyl, is only 28.9 x 21.4 cm (11 3/8 x 8 7/16 inches), a small study for a fresco which would be painted several times larger than life size. I can only guess that Bernini was teaching a big class and that maybe his work was on display for students to study, or it ma…