84. Alessandro Maganza

Vicenza 1556 – after 1632 Vicenza

Three Studies of Saints in the Clouds

Formerly attributed to Francesco Maffei, this drawing was later ascribed to his master, Alessandro Maganza, thus adding to the already substantial collection of drawings by the artist now in the Fondation Custodia. Maganza’s graphic style was strongly influenced by the art of Palma il Giovane. In addition to the similarity of the figures, he also borrowed Palma’s contrasting effects of chiaroscuro. Maganza’s drawing is distinctive, however, for his use of washes extending beyond the drawn outlines. The play of light and shade thus overrides the line, helping to unify the figures and the space. The gradation of the wash achieved by varying the dilution of the ink contributes to the dramatic light effects.
These three verses written by Maganza* – whose talent for poetry was praised by Ridolfi (1648) – refer to the elevation of the souls of the Blessed towards the Empyrean, the highest sphere of heaven where celestial fires hold sway.

* All’hor per meraviglia e per suo giuoco.
Venn’io farfala, e corsi all’alta e bella fiama,
a cui, sarà il mondo angusto loco

Then, by a miracle and for pleasure,
I became a butterfly and flew to the highest, finest flame
The world would be too narrow a place for it