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St George
17th Century
Francesco GUARINO
St George
[San Giorgio]
Oil on canvas
130 x 101 cm  [HxW]
Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Napoli

Previously attributed to Cavallino, it is a late work by Francesco Guarino from between 1645 and 1650. The artist studied under Massimo Stanzione and worked almost exclusively in Campania. In Naples, Guarino learned the vigorous naturalism of Caravaggio and Battistello, Ribera and the “Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds”, and indeed he never abandoned these formal roots even when, in the mid-1630s, he showed increasing interest on the one hand for the mature classicism of Massimo Stanzione and, on the other, for the “Neo-Venetian” pursuit of the picturesque of Poussin and Charles Mellin, who were working in Rome (and the latter also in Montecassino and Naples). This can be seen in the almost feminine beauty and insensitive gaze towards the viewer of his St George . Beneath the appearance of a warrior saint next to the impaled dragon, there may be the allegorical portrait of an as yet unidentified nobleman. This work, which is but one of Guarino’s vast production of half-figures of heroines and saints, recalls the elegant sensuality of Simon Vouet’s earlier works and the chromatic preciosity of van Dyck and the Neo-Venetian painters in Rome, and yet it never loses its formal solidity and the expressive intensity of the artist’s initial naturalistic training.

Maia Confalone

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