An Allegory with Figures in a Garden Setting
71.76 cm x 93.98 cm (28 1/4 in. x 37 in.)
(Genoa, Italy, 1627 - 1703, Genoa, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Piola was, with his pupil Gregorio De Ferrari, the leading painter in Genoa during the second half of the seventeenth century. With the catalyst of Pietro da Cortona’s High Baroque cycles, in a manner so fluent as to seem automatic, Piola managed to generalize the lessons of Rubens and Van Dyck’s dynamic naturalism and translate them into the grand scale decoration of the native Genoese tradition. Few palaces in Genoa and scarcely a church in Liguria lack a work with the undulating rhythms, variegated modelling, and softly modulated light that are his trademarks. Piola’s works may not be the most resolute in structure or deep in characterization, but they convey a ease, even a joy, that are estimable and historically significant.
Here, a beautiful young woman is interrupted by an aged, winged male who holds an hourglass and scythe in one hand and presents a flower with the other. The subject is related in basic elements and composition to a common Baroque allegory, Time revealing Truth. In fact, the explicit vanity of plaiting hair, the implicit one of a mirror, the futile gesture of the little boy, and the flower shift the meaning to the short duration, the precariousness, of physical beauty. In its suave rhythms and decorative amplitude, the painting exemplifies Piola’s mature style.