Design for a Wall Decoration
  • Tommaso Bigatti, attr.
  • Italy, early nineteenth century
  • Design for a Wall Decoration
  • Gouache on swanskin
  • 322 × 520 mm
Private collection, Paris

A wall decoration is a highly unusual theme for this talented artist, whose work traditionally has been handed down only through gouaches with Roman motives created for Italian travellers on the so-called Grand Tour in the 19th century. Yet numerous details and technical parallels point to his hand. The typical beaded edge around the central image sections, a special colour scheme, and the incomparably fanciful variety of the Neo-Pompeian decorations indicate Tommaso Bigatti’s hand. Both the selection of particular fine parchment and the excellent gouache painting can be found in all the artist’s known works as well.

The central motif in the oval shows Ariadne on the beach of the island Naxos, from which her unfaithful lover Theseus has just departed; she pines over the disappearance of his boat into the distance. Two tondi, each depicting a flying putto, frame this picture, and lead the viewer’s eye to the central image through the putti’s shared glances. The dark pedestal area is depicted three-dimensionally by shadows adumbrated at the lower edge.