Giuseppe Maria Crespi

Death of St Joseph

Death of St Joseph
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Giuseppe Maria Crespi
Painting, Oil on canvas, 234.5x187 cm
Origin: Italy, Circa 1712

Crespi produced this work for the Cardinal Legate of Bologna, Pietro Ottoboni. The subject was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, as Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, was increasingly venerated. There was no precedent for works on this theme, and thus the artist was not tied by any traditional schemes. In the semi-gloom of a poor house the aged Joseph is fading fast. Mary weeps and the young Christ, blessing the dying man, presses his cold hand. Joseph's carpenter's tools, of no use to anyone now, lie scattered on the floor. The colour scheme is made up of dark brown tones, but the darkness is translucent and suffused with a troubled, flickering light, which makes tangible the spiritual unity of the heroes. Thus the tragic scene of the loss of a loved one gains the resonance of a sublime mystery.

Personage: St Joseph
Style: Baroque
Source of entry: Collection of Count von Bruhl, Dresden, 1769
School: Bologna
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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