Crucifixion on Calvary

Luigi Ademollo (Milano 1764 – Firenze 1849)
Date
1791-92
Collection
Location
Pitti Palace, Palatine Chapel

The striking, antiquarian vision that inspires the overall pictorial decoration of the Royal Chapel also emerges in the large wall panel with the Crucifixion. The episode is characterized by a courtly severity, reminiscent of David's Oath of the Horatii, especially in the analogous contrast between the brutality of the male world, embodied by the men straining hard as they try to raise the crosses on the hillside, and the pain and shock expressed by the opposite group of pious women, characterized by sinuous, soft and ethereal forms and relegated to the right side of the composition, an ideal counterpoint to the excitement of the central scene. The dramatic event placed in the foreground, under a leaden sky streaked with clouds, is the backdrop to the rocky background dotted with rare leafy patches, probably inspired by the rocky landscapes of the Roman countryside seen and noted by the painter: everything is pervaded by a sense of atmospheric lightness, rendered thanks to the masterful dosage of the glazes. Ademollo had learned this from Swiss painter Ducros during the years of his apprenticeship in Rome as a young man. In perfect thematic symmetry with the opposite wall, where Christ's Entry into Jerusalem corresponds to the Triumph of David, here too the Christological episode is symbolically tied to the underlying biblical event depicted in monochrome along the base: Moses and the bronze serpent, an episode from the Old Testament that prefigures the salvific role of the cross.

Credits
Elena Marconi