Exhibition | Anton Maria Maragliano (1664–1739)

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 13, 2019

On view in Genoa at the Palazzo Reale:

Anton Maria Maragliano (1664–1739), Lo spettacolo della scultura in legno a Genova
Palazzo Reale di Genova, 10 November 2018 — 10 March 2019

Curated by Daniele Sanguineti

From November 10th 2018 to March 10th 2019 Teatro del Falcone in Palazzo Reale Museum hosts the first monographic exhibition dedicated to the Genoese sculptor Anton Maria Maragliano (1664–1739). Viewers can admire the artist’s masterpieces, testaments to the persuasive power of painted and gilded wood to personify the protagonists of Paradise: from the elegant Marian statues, to the graceful Crucifixes, to the great processional machines with the martyrs of the saints.

Maragliano’s ability to meet the needs of clients through beautiful images and strong emotional impacts made possible the obtaining of a monopoly that forced the sculptor to develop a structured business model. Two generations of students were welcomed in the rooms of Strada Giulia, in the heart of Genoa, where Maragliano had his workshop, giving rise to the phenomenon of divulging the master’s language which represents the most fascinating, though problematic, aspect of the approach to sculptor: and the pupils of the students pursued this popularization beyond the end of the century. The exhibition presents a dual approach: on the one hand, it displays a chronological path, with Maragliano’s cultural references, the beginnings, the artist’s workshop; on the other hand, it displays thematic sections, articulated in groups of works divided according to iconography.

The exhibition opens with a section dedicated to artistic precedents for the young Maragliano, from Giuseppe Arata and Giovanni Battista Agnesi, to Giovanni Battista Bissoni and Marco Antonio Poggio. The places that Maragliano evoked through a series of documents, engravings, and watercolors usefully tell the stages of apprenticeship and the environments that hosted the master’s workspace over the years. The magnificent San Michele Arcangelo of Celle Ligure, requested of Maragliano in 1694, and the San Sebastiano for the Disciplinanti of Rapallo, commissioned in 1700, testify to the role of models in tune with the most up-to-date figurative culture rooted in Genoa thanks to the painter Domenico Piola and the French sculptor Pierre Puget. These sculptures, capable of translating into the three-dimensionality of the artefact the engaging grace of contemporary painting and Bernini’s sculpture, reveal the new, delicate dynamism of Baroque culture.

The practice of work, from the manipulation of clay models to the collaboration with painters—especially those of Casa Piola—constitute a deepening of particular interest that make comprehensible the ideational project in the entirety of its process. The progressive juxtaposition of Crucifixes—large and small, from a chapel, from a high altar, or from a procession—shows the substantial renewal conferred by Maragliano on the iconography until obtaining a repeatable formula on the part of the students. A series of spectacular Madonnas seated on the throne and an extraordinary processional chest—the Sant’Antonio Abate contemplates the death of Saint Paul the Hermit now relevant to the brotherhood of Mele—highlight the theatrical values ​​of Maragliano’s compositions, for which the biographer Ratti, reporting the judgment of the people, wrote, “have all the air of Paradise.”

Penitential themes from Holy Week are illustrated in the enthralling section on the Passion. Alongside works of small format, including nativity statues are exhibited refined objects—sacred and profane—commissioned by noble families for their private collections. The journey ends with an allusion to the complex management of Maragliano’s heritage, thanks to the presence of some pieces made by his primary students.

The catalogue is published by Sagep and available from Artbooks.com:

Daniele Sanguineti, et al., Maragliano (1664–1739), Lo spettacolo della scultura in legno a Genova (Genova: Sagep Editori, 2018), 288 pages, ISBN: 978-8863735970, €30 / $60.


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