The compositions of these paintings relate to two small, oval red chalk drawings of the same subjects, also formerly in the Bossi-Beyerlen collection and now in the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart (figs. 1 and 2). They are part of a group of thirty-five studies by Giandomenico of Christ, the Virgin, saints, and sacred symbols.1 This series, possibly intended for engraving, is generally dated to circa 1750-53, when the artist was in Würzburg assisting his father with the fresco decoration of the palace of Prince-Bishop, Karl Phillip von Greiffenklau.2 Giandomenico’s paintings of Saint Dominic and Saint Rose of Lima closely follow the compositions of his drawings, though there are slight differences: the drawings are within ovals, while the finished paintings are rectangular; the painting of Saint Dominic does not include the star above his head; and the painting of Saint Rose includes the extended right arm of the Christ Child. There is also a preparatory drawing for the clenched fist of Saint Dominic in the Museo Correr, Venice, which is among a group of drawings that are related to works executed by Giandomenico during his time in Würzburg.3
Though Mariuz (see Literature) dated these painting to the 1760s, the fact that the related chalk drawings and the preparatory drawing for Saint Dominic’s hand have been dated to the artist’s Würzburg years would seem to challenge this view, suggesting a date of execution for the paintings to the early to mid-1750s.4 The quick, loose brushwork and use of thick impasto can be compared to that found in other works of this period such as Alexander the Great and the Family of Darius (circa 1751-52, The Detroit Institute of Arts); Christ Healing the Blind Man (signed and dated 1751, The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford); and The Minuet (circa 1754, Musée du Louvre, Paris).5
Saint Dominic (1170-1221) was the founder of the Order of Preachers, also called Dominican, or Black Friars. He is shown here with his usual attributes of a book (the Gospels) and a lily (chastity). In addition, he is accompanied by a black and white dog with a flaming torch in its mouth, an allusion to the story that his mother dreamed her unborn child was a dog that would set the world on fire with the Word of God. It also has been suggested that the dog represents a pun on Dominicanus, the word for a Dominican friar, and Domini canis, "dog of the Lord."
Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617), Patroness of the Americas, was born in Peru. As an infant, a servant had a vision that her face turned into a rose and she eventually adopted that name at her confirmation. At age twenty she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic. She lead a life of prayer, fasting and penance and, as shown in this painting, was known to wear a metal spiked crown concealed by roses. She was beatified by Pope Clement IX in 1667 and canonized in 1671 by Clement X, the first person born in the Americas to become a saint.
1. For the entire series see G. Knox and C. Thiem, under Literature, 1971, pp. 120-125, cat. nos. 110-144.
2. Ibid., p. 121.
3. Red and white chalk, 80 by 142 mm, see G. Knox, under Literature, 1980, pp. 129, 135, cat. no. D.44.
4. See Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd., under Literature, 2008.
5. See respectively, A. Mariuz, under Literature, p. 118, reproduced plate 35; p. 120, reproduced plates 51-2; pp. 131-2, reproduced plates 83-4.
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