Giovanni Maria Galli known as Bibiena (1618/19 – 1665), Ascension, 1651. Size 450 x 350 cm ca. Signed below, left ‘GIO. MARIA. GALLI. 1651.’. Bologna, church of San Girolamo della Certosa, San Bruno Chapel.
The painting closely follows Francesco Albani’s style, who was Bibiena’s master. As a matter of fact, chroniclers of the time remark how painstakingly Bibiena draws on his master’s style. Taking into consideration the dignified attitudes and the calm feelings of the characters it portrays, it can be said that this particular canvas, out of the whole cycle, best represents the Classical ideal pursued by Guido Reni and his school. Being signed and dated, the picture is one of the few known artworks by this painter.
The restoration | The restoration was carried out by Katia Ronzani, who had to mend several damages caused by time and neglect. The canvas had heavily parched and a very visible cut had formed in the middle. In many points, the painted surface had come off the frame and risked falling down. The delicate chromatic pattern was altered by the yellowed protective paint that had moreover totally tarnished in some areas, due to dampness. The restoration made it possible to heal and consolidate the painting, and to thoroughly read it in its completeness.
Giovanni Maria Galli known as Bibiena (1618/19 – 1665) | Little is known about this artist, the founder of a famous family of architects and theatrical set designers who worked throughout Europe. Bibiena is the place-name of his native town, which he chose to distinguish himself from a colleague by the same name who worked with him in his master’s, Francesco Albani, studio, where he had begun training in 1628. His new “surname” was then passed on to all his descendants. Very little has remained of his pictorial production: in addition to the Judgment canvas in the church of San Girolamo, there are two portraits of Carthusian saints, as well as a Saint Augustine in the Bologna National Picture Gallery and the fresco depicting the Blessing to the three-thousand Bolognese crusaders in the Sala Farnese of the City Hall, datable 1658-60.