Pen and brush with brown ink. Inscribed in pen at bottom right Jordano. Inscribed in pen at bottom left Pietro Cortona per palazzo Altieri. On paper with watermark Bird on three mountains inscribed in a circle surmounted by the letter A.
Gore of gray wash in the upper left.
220 x 293 mm.
There are numerous pictorial evidence for this energetic drawing by Giordano, which reveals the strong influence of Ribera. A painting of the same subject is recorded in the photographic library of the Fondazione Federico Zeri. The painting was originally offered by the London art dealer Heim in summer 1975. In his catalogue Paintings by Luca Giordano, no. 11. Heim identifies the painting with the work listed in 1801 in the inventory of the Princes of Avellino, Naples and points out that two other paintings of the same subject are known to Nicola Spinosa. Another drawn version of this subject, at the Museo d'Arte Costantino Barbella, certainly not by the hand of Giordano, was pointed out to me by Alessandro Salamone.
A pupil of Jusepe Ribera in Naples, Giordano enjoyed a long and successful career. After traveling to Rome and the Veneto, Giordano began to move away from Ribera's dark and dramatic style towards a lighter, more decorative manner. He began to develop his light, airy, delicately colored style in the late 1650s, synthesizing Pietro da Cortona's Baroque decorations in Rome with the vibrant hues of Venetian art and Rubens. He was soon established as the leading painter in the city, executing altarpieces for many Neapolitan churches and working at such rapid pace that he was nicknamed Luca fa presto. He also developed a reputation beyond Naples. His foreign patrons included the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III and the Spanish King Charles II, who invited the artist to Spain in 1692. Appointed court painter, Giordano remained in Spain for ten years, working at the Escorial and for courtly and noble patrons in Madrid and Toledo. He eventually returned to Naples in 1702 and continued to work with considerable energy until his death.