A fascinating oil on canvas painting depicting a group of monks in a wood carving studio, this oil on canvas was painted by Giovanni Torriglia in the late 1800s. The darkened tones used by Torriglia (black and brown) are offset by a gilt frame with foliate details above a deep cavetto molding.
Five monks are gathered around a workbench inside a workshop covered in shadows. One of the young monks, who is wearing glasses, is manipulating a sheer green fabric across the only light source: a shuttered window behind our quintet. Two senior clergymen sit behind the workbench on slatted Savonarola chairs. They gaze with delight at a junior monk hammering a chisel into wood, sculpting a winged angel. A final youthful monk leans on a wonderfully carved sgabello chair, watching the apprentice closely. The colors are splendid, accentuated by tiny nuances such as the wood chips on the floor, various completed sculptures behind the monks, and a green-leafed tree visible outside the window.
Giovanni Battista Torriglia was born in Genoa, Italy in 1858. At the age of 17, Torriglia studied at the Ligustica Academy of Fine Arts. The subjects of Torriglia’s early works were mainly religious or historical, and his use of shadows and light sources garnered him much recognition, including the Durrazo Grant in 1886 and Academician of Merit in 1912. In 1901, Torriglia settled in Tuscany and began focusing on more light-hearted renderings, depicting Italian families in indoor settings.
CONDITION: Very good condition with minor rubs to frame with light losses and age separations. Evidence of an old repair to the canvas. Rigged for hanging. Signed in the lower right corner “G.B. Torriglia” with a placard affixed to the frame indicating the title of the painting is The Carvers Apprentices.