Leonardo Coccorante ( Naples 1680 – 1750 ), Architectural capriccio with stormy seascape
Oil on canvas cm 87 x 140 signed ( with monogram “LC” ) lower left.
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The sources tell him as a painter of “bizarre” ruins and gardens adorned with classical sculptures from the vast archeological area of the Flegrei Fields, of views of Naples and of the harbours of the Viceroy analytically given on the canvas, of macabre and esoteric scenes shown in “capricious”. Just as the latter genre, born as a pictorial exercise derived from the transposition of theater scenery projects, Leonardo Coccorante was a great master.
The painting presented here is, in fact, one of the most successful works in the genre of “capriccio”, a type of view in which no precise geographic location is recognized and which includes ancient architectural structures, often accompanied by generic figures. It is a composition derived from the imagination of the artist in which he delights to associate freely in the same space magnificent monuments of antiquity from different places, in order to create an ideal and aulic landscape.
Painter of Neapolitan origins, the Coccorante was active in the first half of the 18th century. Viviano Codazzi and Angelo Maria Costa’s pupil, he became one of the finest landscape painters of the early Neapolitan 18th century, often assisted in the parts of figure by Giovanni Marziale, Giuseppe Tomajoli and Giacomo del Po. Known largely for his detailed large landscapes in which throng classic architectures or ancient ruins, as opposed to small human figures in the foreground that emphasize the majesty of the surrounding ruins, the Neapolitan master is the author of landscapes and fantastic views, characterized by marvelous seafront backgrounds, just like in the painting presented here, and preromantic intonation compositions.
In our painting, the presence of the monogram “LC”, in addition to a clever reinterpretation of the use of light adopted by Viviano Codazzi and the use of a pre-romantic manner, is an irrefutable proof of the attribution to the Neapolitan master. The painting is to be placed in the period from 1720 to 1733, in a group of works, made with freedom of invention, characterized by the “sea-architecture” combination: these are paintings conceived through the environmental research of the first light which animates floors, ruins and rocks in the background of a stormy sea taken from the real. This sea, which overlooks the city, is present in almost all the works of the Neapolitan master, forming the ideal counterpart to the most conventional landscape painting.