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The Baptist before Herod by Anton Angelo Falaschi
Oil painting on canvas
Anton Angelo Falaschi
cm. 13×22


In this display case are two sketches done for the decoration of the Gonfalone church in Viterbo. That of Falaschi which was approved shows John the Baptist in front of Herod. In the foreground are two groups of figures: on the left three people, on the right a group of four. In the background an architectural scene dotted with more figures The scene represents a meeting between the Roman judge, Herod and John the Baptist. The judge, tetrarch of Galilee, sits on a throne flanked by female figures Erodiade in throne and young Salomè.
In the rear an older person between two soldiers, one trying to block the man. S. Giovanni is shown without clothing with just a sheepskin, his attribute and a long cape that falls to his feet. With the left hand he holds the cross, showing his role as precursor of Christ. The two soldiers wear armor and plumed helmets but only one carries a shield and lance. The sovereigns wear regal clothes contemporary fashion of the painter’s time. Herod hold the scepter in his left, the queen brings her hand to her face and both are carefully listening to the Baptist whose right arm points towards them creating the focal point of the picture. Behind the throne a dark curtain covers part of the architecture The scene takes place inside a painted lunette that acts as a frame and cuts the grey background of the canvas where a Latin inscription holds the artist’s name and date of the work, 1756.

An artist of little personality who gained his first notions of design and painting from Francesco Maria Bonifazi (1722) then went to Rome for some years. His limited known production shows weakness in design and knowledge of anatomy and perspective, and according to Noris Angeli he was poor in chromatic effects. We must take with a grain of salt even the dates of his birth (1710) and death (1756) given by Mario Signorelli. Major surety is given in the biographical data of Simonetta Angeli and Fulvio Ricci who put the date of his death in 1768 at the age of 67.

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