Based on Rembrandt’s print of the same scene from 1635, this work focuses on Jesus’s rush toward the fleeing merchants. In contrast to Rembrandt, Castiglione places this drama in the background and fills the foreground with panicking livestock stampeding over merchandise splayed before us. Both parts of the composition complement each other thematically and reflect Castiglione’s sensitivity to current theoretical discussions on literature and art that considered the significance of sequential narratives in poetry and prose as well as the complementary interplay of foreground and background. Moreover, while his meticulous handling of the heap of animals and merchandise in the foreground demonstrates his brilliance as an animal painter, his lighter palette and fluid brushwork of the New Testament narrative echo that of his dry brush drawings.
Castiglione’s Career in the 1630s
After training principally in Genoa, Castiglione sought to reinvent himself as an artist during the mid-1630s in Rome, where he attended sessions at the Accademia di San Luca. There he would have been exposed to some of the issues of artistic theory and practice facing painters at the time. He would have sought to align himself with artists such as Domenichino, Sacchi, Testa, and Poussin, which may explain the dramatic hand and facial gestures of many of his figures, all geared to express emotions by visual means. Despite Castiglione’s attempts to accommodate reigning tastes in order to attract a broader base of clients in Rome and then back in Genoa during the late 1630s and early 1640s, he continued to look to others for inspiration, such as Rembrandt, whose rich chiaroscuro and dramatic subjects in his etchings he found appealing.
Gates Family Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture, Denver Art Museum
Help us make our collections more accessible by providing keywords to describe this artwork. The BCMA uses the
Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus to
provide consistent keywords. Enter a keyword in the field below and you will be prompted with a list of possible matching AAT preferred terms.