This week The HighBoy takes you to Rome to be part of the Borghese family’s summer home, Casino dell’ Aurora, to feast your eyes on a true masterpiece, one of the oldest and finest frescoes still standing today, “L’Aurora,” executed by the Italian Baroque painter Guido Reni. The HighBoy’s Chief Cataloguer and Art Historian, Camille de Marchena, shares the story and beauty of this gorgeous work upon her return from Rome, which granted her an up-close look at Reni’s famous fresco.
Nestled within the façade of the Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi in Rome, “L’ Aurora,” brought to life in 1614, creates a celestial and graceful whirlwind of dynamism and strength: Artist Guido Reni depicts the ethereal figure Aurora, the goddess of dawn, guiding the figure of Apollo, personified as the sun, into the night. Enveloped between Apollo and Aurora is a small putto (a cherub), bearing a torch representing the morning star. Circling Apollo’s chariot filled with luscious gold, are lovely, flirty maidens posing as the passing hours of the day. Reni’s color palette ignites the chariot as a main focal point in his carefully thought-out composition as he leads the gazer’s eyes through boldly colored hues of clouds into the deep night of day.
During the Baroque period, artists challenged themselves to come up with inventive ways of pictorial imagery and expression. Frescoes were an innovative technique painted on ceilings of lavish palazzos to expand one’s perspective and open a new world into the divine heavens. Although Aurora (the goddess of dawn) was a popular subject, very few artists were able to encapsulate the brilliance of movement and impressive rendering of this mythological scene like Reni.
So The HighBoy is pleased to share that we have an amazing interpretation of Aurora available by Karl Max Gebhardt, a German artist born in 1834. Gebhardt was a longtime admirer of the late Baroque artist and chose to take on this masterpiece and add his own unique twist. Nearly 150 years later, Gebhardt manages to capture a similar vibrancy and vitality of composition as Reni’s “L’Aurora.”
As chief cataloguer and art historian here at The HighBoy, I come across a lot of wonderful examples of exquisite antiques and breathtaking fine art. When I saw Gebhardt’s “Aurora” in our inventory, I felt the thrill of connecting this 19th Century piece with its 17th Century inspiration-proof that fine art and antiques are an ongoing conversation among art lovers through history. While you can’t add Reni’s fresco to your home (without getting into trouble with the Italian Carabinieri, anyway), Gebhardt’s painting is a fitting tribute and a beautiful piece sure to be a conversation-starter in any home.