Giacomo Nani (1698-1755) Still life with flowers, fruit and little bird

Nani Giacomo, Porto Ercole 1698- Naples 1755.

Still life with flowers, fruit and little bird.
Oil painting on canvas.

Giacomo Nani was a painter of still lifes active in Naples in the eighteenth century.
A pupil of Andrea Belvedere and Gaspare Lopez, his first works are described in 1723 in an inventory of the Duchess of Terranova. The Nani was much appreciated by the king and his paintings are numerous at the Royal Palace of Naples and the Royal Palace of Caserta. Then there are a series of twenty-four paintings preserved in Riofrio in Spain, a gift from the king to his mother Isabella Farnese. The collaboration of Nani with the Capodimonte porcelain factory, founded in 1740, is also important.

In considering the work of Giacomo Nani we must start from the judgment of De Dominici, who considered him the best pupil of the Belvedere “universal painter in all that a professor can paint”. Among his inspirational sources a prominent place occupied Gaspare Lopez (Naples – Venice around 1732) called Gasparino and Tommaso Realfonso (about 1677 – documented until 1743) called Masillo. A certain influence also exerted on his style the example of Jean Baptiste Dubisson, the bearer in Naples of the pictorial ways of de Monnoyer.
The most important nucleus of his production is represented by the painting of flowers, a very popular genre both in Naples and in Spain in those years. His first documented works are floral, like the splendid Amphora of the Capodimonte museum. Later the Nani will introduce other elements in his canvases like vases, baskets, fountains, and in the background gardens or leafy woods with great decorative effect in line with the prevailing Rococo taste. In some cases it will perform literal withdrawals from paintings of his master Lopez, as we can see in some compositions preserved in the Capodimonte museum and in the Kuntshistorisches of Vienna. In his compositions we observe a certain brightness and a good care of perspective.

Later he will combine flowers, vegetables and fruit, a decorative theme proper to the rococo, which will be cultivated by other painters in Naples in the same years as Gaetano Cusati, Nicola Malinconico, Giorgio Garri and Nicola Casissa. Valid examples of this kind of compositions are kept at the Academy of San Ferdinando in Madrid.
In Nani’s paintings, food, game and fish will then be subjected to a luministic investigation, with respect for the objective data, which we can qualify as a new naturalist.
Other times the inevitable macaroni and other foods of the time appear and in particular, in the series sent to Isabella Farnese and preserved in Spain, are represented, as in a chosen menu, most of the dishes that were served in those years on the tables of the Neapolitans .
His production, as well as in the Neapolitan museums (Capodimonte, San Martino, Duca di Martina, Royal Palace of Naples and Caserta) and in numerous private Italian and foreign collections is preserved in Godesberg, Mainz, Einsiedeln and in the Prado.

In the painting “Still life of flowers and fruit with a little bird” the naturalistic shooting of style, the studied graphic and the luminous chromatism, characteristic of a fidelity to a painting unavailable to every sweetening rocaille, place the chronological dating of the composition within the middle of the century .
The opulent vase of flowers with delicate shades contrasts with the intense colors of the fruit, the blood red of the split pomegranate, the intense yellow of the cedars, the dewy apricots, a resumption of a naturalism so intense that it seems to attract the ravenous desires of a lively little bird.

The painting has undergone a conservative restoration at a specialized laboratory.
It’s presented in a 18th century lacquered and gilded Salvator Rosa frame.


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