This is one of six rectangular or lunette-shaped studies which were made by the painter as models for the frescoes for the dome and spandrels of the Duomo in Cesena. Purchased in Bologna in 1953, three of them bear the signature and date Roma 1749 on the back. They were thus made during Giaquinto’s long stay in Rome. The artist had trained in Naples between 1719 and 1727, first under Nicola Maria Rossi and then under Francesco Solimena, before moving to Rome in about 1730, then to the court of the king of Spain in Madrid in 1753. He moved to Naples in 1762 at the service of the local Bourbon court, upon the recommendation of the architect Luigi Vanvitelli. Giaquinto started by studying the great frescoes and canvases of Solimena and matured his style in Rome by following the examples of modern preciosity and compositional refinement mainly adopted by French painters at the French Academy. He developed an elegant language with a brilliant chromatic rendering which was particularly suited to the decorative Rococo tastes of international patrons and of the leading European courts in the middle of the century.
This style can also be seen in the painting on display: it has a light and airy composition with short, rapid brushstrokes, colour infused with light and an alternation of warm, golden tones with mother-of-pearl brilliance which are contemporary with those of Giovan Battista Tiepolo: the finest and most qualified artist of the brief season of Rococo in Europe.