Bolognese artist ( active in the second half of the 18th century ), Two heavy drinkers
Polychrome terracotta cm 22 x 21 x 19 dated ( 1789 ) on the base.
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Even Bologna, like Naples, can boast of a glorious tradition in the production of statuettes made of polychrome terracotta, designed to populate the Christmas nativity scene. A production that reached its apogee in Bologna in the second half of the eighteenth century, as the exhibition “From the Carisbo Foundation’s Art and History Collections: ancient statues of terracotta of Bolognese Nativity scenes”, held in 2015 in the exhibition halls of Casa Saraceni.
This exhibition was an important occasion for the rediscovery of a figurative culture, beloved by the local community, expressed by artists such as Filippo Scandellari, Domenico Piò, Clarice Vasini and others, educated at the Clementine Academy during the eighteenth century, on the teaching of Giuseppe Maria Mazza and of Angelo Piò, and at the Academy of Fine Arts of Napoleonic institution in which Giacomo De Maria, the first Bolognese sculptor to attend the Roman studio of Antonio Canova, was particularly active.
Precisely to this “low genre” can be traced the terracotta presented here, bearing on the basis, as the date of execution, the year 1789. Cultured in a convivial embrace, close to yield to the flattery of wine, sit on the ground, one with legs crossed, the other with the right knee flexed used as support for the flask, both with cheeks and nose reddened by the warmth given to the faces by the intake of alcoholic beverage, the two protagonists of this terracotta reveal a naturalism not loaded, which thus demonstrates their most true nature of artistic exercise firmly regulated within cultural grids and classicist prescriptions; the same ones that only took hold in Bologna in the late eighteenth century when the reorganization of the Clementine Academy, wanted by Benedict XIV, began to bear fruit.
The theme of drunkenness and its moralistic condemnation comes back to another inevitable character in the restricted repertoire of the Bolognese Nativity scene, the so called “Dormiglione”: the latter, as our two drinkers, symbol of materialism insensitive to the call of faith, from drinking wine and falling asleep, can not hear the good news announcing the birth of the Christ. Forget about the evangelical motto “Vigilate”, they have been overwhelmed at the crucial moment.