DescriptionAttributed to FRANCESCO LAVAGNA (Italian, 18th Century)
Sumptuous Floral and Fruit Still Life in an Extensive Landscape, 18th Century
Oil on canvas
70-1/2 x 70-3/4 inches (179.1 x 179.7 cm)
Private collection, New York.
Little is known about the life of Francesco Lavagna, whose name appears occasionally on his trademark genre of still life painting - artful arrangements of floral bouquets and fruit disposed in groupings within extensive park-like landscapes. Birds, urns, decorated porcelain wares and even architectural fragments usually feature prominently in his paintings. Although his birth and death dates have not been traced, Francesco Lavagna was active in the late 17th and early 18th century in Naples. Owing to the strong stylistic similarities between his work and that of the still life painter from Naples with the same surname, Giuseppe Lavagna (1684-1724), it seems highly probable that the latter was a close relative, and the two men collaborated on large decorative schemes for palazzi and villas to which the present work doubtless originally belonged. Giuseppe Lavagna was a student of both Antonio de Dominici and of the celebrated flowerpainter, Andrea Belevdere.
We are grateful to the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie in The Hague for their kind assistance in researching the authorship of this still life.
The paint film is in very good stable condition. The primary support is a coarse open weave burlap (typical of southern Italian and Spanish painting) seamed with a finer linen fabric on the top half and attached with a thick paste covered mesh fabric. The horizontal seam in the top half of the canvas is visible where the two different fabrics were joined together. This strongly suggests that the painting had been enlarged by the Lavagna workshop when it was being installed in its original location for the paint on both types of canvas and the style are identical. The composition of the painting as well as its size suggests it was part of a large mural-sized decorative scheme. The secondary support is a wood stretcher that is in good condition. It has tenon and mortise joints with both horizontal and vertical crossbars. Each corner joint has two keys (one corner is missing both) and the crossbars have one key on each side. The painting was professionally conserved by the current owner this year. The old, discolored surface varnish was removed with pre-tested solvents. The superficial grime and dirt was removed in this process as well. The old lining removed easily as the adhesive (rabbit skin glue) was very dry and brittle. Areas of old restoration on the surface were removed but revealed another layer of previous restorations that were older. The areas surrounding the spots of flaking paint were consolidated. The occasional tears and seam were set with textile welding powder and local heat. The canvas was lined with Mylar and PE-CAP monofilament interleafs with natural linen backing on a hot vacuum table using Beva 371 adhesive. The lined canvas was re-stretched to the wood stretcher. All losses were filled then inpainted with Maimeri restoration colors. The surface was sprayed with several coats of Soluvar semi-gloss varnish to achieve an even sheen throughout.
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2017 October 13 Illustration Art Signature Auction - Dallas