Signed and dated low right: C.Z. / 1834
This high quality of this painting confirms the skills of Carlo Zatti, whose notable artistic path, from Reggio Emilia to Modena, Florence, Milan, Rome and, mostly Venice, city where he has lived and worked a long time, makes of him one of the most interesting figures of the italian figurative scene between Romanticism and Purism , as many studies dedicated to him confirm (in particular the monography written by F. Silvestro, Carlo Zatti pittore, Reggio Emilia, folder of the “Bollettino Storico Reggiano, Anno XXXVI, n 120, September 2003).
The recovery of this Paris, painted when he was very young, allows us to consider his natural predisposition to painting and to verify his solid formation , as this 1834 oil on canvas is the first notable result, confirmed three years later by another great achievement as the victory of the 1837 Grande Concorso di Belle Arti di Brera with the painting Adam and Eve crying over the body of Abel still at the Accademia di Brera (A. Musiari in Pinacoteca di Brera. Dipinti dell’Ottocento e del Novecento. Collezioni dell’Accademia e della Pinacoteca, Tomo secondo, curated by F.Mazzocca, Milano, Electa, 1994, pp. 698 – 700 n° 780).
The studies of Zatti begin at the Scuola Superiore di Belle Arti in Reggio Emilia guided by professor Prospero Minghetti, returned to his home town after a paramount journey to discover the new tendencies of Neoclassicism in Bologna, Florence and Rome, where he had a strong friendship with Tommaso Minardi. As next step he moves to the Accademia Atestina di Belle Arti in Modena, where he will have as classmates Alfonso Chierici and Antonio Fontanesi, who will introduce Zatti to Adeodato Malatesta, who will become his rival.
Our painting is realised right before his transfer to Florence in 1835 and precedes another mythological youth masterpiece such as Standing Cupid meditating a shot, still 1835 (Modena, Galleria Estense), as well as another notable painting of the same year such as Santa Filomena, now at the church of San Bartolomeo in Fiumalbo.
Zatti confirms his predisposition to painting and his already mature taste confrontating himself with an iconography such as Paris, very common in the Neoclassical times, both in painting and sculptures, used by David and Canova, for instance. He was able to give to the topic a new outburst, conferring to the figure of the legendary sheperd, depicted sitting with the golden apple in his hand and the mount Ida on the background, an almost romantic sensibility.
What is most striking in the painting is the mastering of the technique, confirmed by the oustanding quality of the naked body and the drapery. The body, carachterized by a soft and mellow anatomy depicted in an elegant and scenographical manner. The drapery feels modulated in a beautiful symphony of folds of the red mantle wrapping the body of the young man and falling to the ground. Particularly succesful is also the leopard mantle, that gives an exotic feel to the image.
We can admire the same sensibility in the background, characterized by a successful panoramical opening that leads the eye of the viewer on the banks of a river and to the mountains. The absorbed look of the protagonist is in perfect syntony with melancholy and dreamy atmosphere ready to become part of the myth.
Milan, 19 April, 2018
Prof. Fernando Mazzocca