Francesco de Mura

The Virgin and Child

Francesco de Mura
(Napoli, 1696-Turino, 1782 )

Oil on copper (oval) 10.3 x 8.6 cm Attribution approved by Prof. Nicolas Spinosa.


T.Zennaro and N. Spinosa in La Pittura Eloquente, exh. cat., Maison d’Art, Monte-Carlo 2010, n. 24,pp. 127-129, illus. p. 129.

The painting presented here was made for devotional purposes, and as is clear from its reduceddimensions and copper support, itwould have been used privately, following a custom that waswidespread in Naples (and elsewhere) between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The Virgin looks heavenward, suggesting to any beholder that they should have faith in divineprotection, while the Christ Child seeks an explicit dialogue with the person on this side of the image,directing his index finger and lively gaze outwards.This is undoubtedly a work by Francesco De Mura, painted during his maturity in the middle years ofthe eighteenth century, yet still clearly echoing his youthful admiration for similar works painted byhis master, Francesco Solimena.

With respect to the latter, however, De Mura’s art is made of colours that are brighter, moretransparent and precious. This came about through his contacts with the circle of French painters inRome and Turin between the end of the 1730s and early 1740s (Pierre Subleyras in particular), andwith Corrado Giaquinto during the 1740s. Furthermore–again compared with Solimena–theexpressive content also appears more sweetened, with a tone of greater intimacy and familiarity.

The delicate oval of the Virgin’s face, the clear palette and composed naturalism of the figures alsoindicate contact with the latest classicising trends that wereemerging in Naples during the middle ofthe Settecento.

Nicola Spinosa