Skip to content

Andrea Sacchi (1599-1661)

April 1, 2011

Andrea Sacchi's St. Gregory & the Miracle of the Corporal, 1625-1627.St. Gregory and the Miracle of the Corporal

Andrea Sacchi 1625-1627.

Oil on canvas.

Commissioned for St. Peter’s, now in Pinacoteca, Vatican.

This painting is an example of Sacchi’s matured style.  It contains both Classical and Baroque elements.  This is a story of a miracle; the piercing of a sacred cloth with a dagger.  This cloth was used to clean the chalice in the Mass.  It bleeds from its puncture.

The figures are arranged in a Classical triangle.  However, the two figures at the bottom of the group have their backs to the picture and look up at the pope.  This dynamic spiraling turns the triangle into a pyramid.  The composition as a whole has a contrappasto between those in disbelief, now realizing their Faith, and those who believed all along.

Sacchi painted this in warm Venetian colors and tones.  There is a painterly quality to his brushstrokes.  He had also looked as masters such as Raphael in his studies.  This is evident in the psychology of the painting as well as the composition.

Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy 1600-1750. Vol II. High Baroque Yale University Press. 1958.

Divine Wisdom

Andrea Sacchi 1629-1633.


Antechamber to private chapel in Palazzo Barberini, Rome.

Andrea Sacchi’s ceiling fresco in the Palazzo Barberini was painted before Pietro da Cortona painted the ceiling of the Gran Salone.  The two compositions are very different from each other.  Andrea Sacchi’s is considered more Classical, yet utilizes di sotto in su, as was vogue, inspired by Lanfranco’s Council of Olympian Gods (Harris).  However, one cannot help but notice the lack of depth of the background.

Because this was a private room, the decorum of the Counter Reformation did not apply here.  This scene is from the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon.  It referenced the beauty of Wisdom.  Each character in this composition is an allegorical figure.  Sacchi’s accomplishment in portraying these figures is in their affeti.  The figures do not need much context to convey who they are, they simply just are.  Their gestures express all one needs to know.

Since this room led to the private chapel of the Barberini, it acted like a nave of a church.  The doors of the chapel were right below the bottom of the composition on the ceiling.

Ann Sutherland Harris. “Sacchi, Andrea.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 1 Apr. 2011 <;.

Vision of St. Romuald

Andrea Sacchi 1631.

Oil on canvas.

For S. Romualdo, Rome, now in Pinacoteca, Vatican.

Andrea Sacchi’s work in the Barberini Palace put him in favor with the family.  Cardinal Lelio Biscia commissioned an altarpiece by Sacchi for the new church of the Camaldolese Order.

The altarpiece contains a simple, Classical composition.  Sacchi depicts the monks in their characteristic white robes.  St. Romuald tells the others about his vision and points behind the listening figures.  Behind them is his vision.  Even further behind the vision is distant landscape.  A warm golden light comes from the vision and shines on the figures of the foreground mostly illuminating St. Romuald and another listening monk.

The figures each have very individualized features.  This makes for a personal experience for the viewer.  This is a contemplative piece that evokes the viewer to concentrate just as the figures in the painting are.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: