Sicilian Workshop

Blu Putto

European Art, 18th Century, Private Collection
21 x 17 x 58 cm8.3 x 6.7 x 22.8 in

Only in the last few decades has a specifically Sicilian brand of Baroque art been acknowledged as legitimate. This polychrome wooden cherub is an example of how the Baroque style takes on very particular shapes and forms in Sicily and not just because it reaches its peak of popularity much later, in the 18th century, but also because in Sicily Baroque was both popular and cultured in its decorative exuberance, it combined institutional architecture and traditional crafts and fed off the influences of Spain, Rome and the original intuitions of local artists. The figure represented here is clearly an angel, with its small engraved and slightly open wings, coloured with light polychrome brushstrokes reminiscent of the angels seen in Norman mosaics. The cherubs limbs are outlined with the typical Baroque opulence, while the attitude, the body's movement is elegantly set in an eternal step to the left. It feels like a dance: the leftward rotation of the legs is counterbalanced by the cherub's arms turned to the right, while the torso performs a slight rotation and the head goes along with this movement by tilting slightly. Even the expression of the face is sweet, though not smiling. A blue drape, modestly resting over the hips, and the dark flowing hair, are the two areas with the greatest chromatic impact, as if the balance of forms was also te be achieved through colour as well as movement.

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