This antique Italian early 18th century old masters oil on canvas painting is attributable to the school of Neapolitan master Francesco De Mura and depicts a religious scene. The pious transit of the Saint of silence, Joseph, surrounded by angels and cherubs, watched over by Mary and Jesus and protected by the archangel Michael, who the Saint himself invoked shortly before expiring. The subject of the death of Saint Joseph had an incredible diffusion during baroque period and throughout the eighteenth century in Neapolitan and southern Italy painting, as altar pieces or sketches, starting from the compositional model of the most important painter of the Bourbonne territories between the 17th and 18th centuries, Francesco Solimena. His most talented pupil, Francesco De Mura, declines this subject -already painted by his master- with some stylistic and compositional variations. A version of the painting already attributed to De Mura, almost identical to ours, is now preserved at Philadelphia, La Salle University Museum of Art. De Mura, a celebrated 18th century Italian painter, is known for a softer painting style than the Baroque which was so popular at the time. Although De Mura, experimented with Baroque early in his career, he quickly adapted to a more controlled and refined style, utilizing rhythmical lines, light and airy colors, and delicate psychological overtones. His soft use of emotion in his biblical, mythological, and allegorical scenes hints at the enlightened rationalism of the late 18th century, occasionally foreshadowing Neo-Classicism. This rectangular antique oil on canvas painting is full of characters, architectural and symbolic elements and emotionally expresses all the compassion of the moment that heralds the transit at the bedside of the dying Joseph. St. Joseph has a waxy complexion and an emaciated faces is lying on a bed with soft white cushions, his hands are folded and his body is partially covered with a golden cloth. Next to him, on the right, is Jesus Christ – dressed in a pink tunic with soft folds and a blue cloak that falls on his shoulders- participates in the pain of St. Joseph reaching out towards him with his hand raised in blessing. Behind the figure of the dying saint, there is the Madonna who tenderly seems to be supporting Joseph’s head with a compassionate look, silently assists her husband. Holy Mary has her head covered with an ocher cloth, she wears a pink tunic partially covered with her typical vivid blue mantle. In the background, next to the Madonna, a beautiful winged angel watches over St. Joseph. The tones of the soft dresses are natural ranging from white to beige and brown. Still in the background, but on the far right of the painting, a proud archangel Michael, with his golden armor and a sword watches the intimate and delicate scene of the impending passing away. Michele holds a shining silver shield in his left hand, the painter has inserted the Latin inscription “Quis ut Deus” which literally translated means “who is like God?”. The phrase dates back to the Christian cosmogony, and is attributed to the archangel Michael, who pronounced it by lashing out against Lucifer when he questioned the power of God. This interesting scene is completed by architectural and decorative elements in the foreground, such as a beautiful bronze vase and lime stone staircases and by an angel crouched on his knees holding a burning censer helped by a winged cherub at his side. All the characters participate in this solemn moment, the artist has managed to capture in his composition all the humanity of this moment. The figure of St. John is inserted in the focal point but all the other characters are present and show their support. The angels, the Madonna and the archangel Michael are humanized by the faces and poses, each one intervenes and assists the dying saint in a sacred and moving pictorial composition. This old master religious painting is a high statement wall decoration artwork a conversation piece with plenty of history. Highly desirable and easy to place in any environment thanks to its convenient scale. The oil on canvas painting is housed in a 18th century giltwood frame.
The painting is in overall very good condition considering age and use. The colors are vivid, bright, saturated on a stable surface. A tiny lack of color low right near the vase can be easily restored upon request. The antique original frame is in fair condition, minor lack of gilding that can be easily restored on request.
Dimensions: Height: 35.44 in. (90 cm)Width: 24.41 in. (62 cm)Depth: 1.19 in. (3 cm)
Please note: this work requires an export document to be shipped outside Italy that will be issued by the government office of fine arts, the procedure lasts circa 40 days.