In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week: Francesco Antonio Simonini, “The Expulsion of the Turks from Austria.”
A court painter who displayed his artistic talent early, Francesco Antonio Simonini (1686–1753) found himself in the good graces of the Grand Duke of Parma in his teens. At the Duke’s expense, Simonini was sent to study his craft in Florence. During his journey, some scholars believe the young artist may have come into contact with the outstanding battle scenes painted by Jacques Courtois and may even have met the artist himself. Whether or not this is true, Simonini became renowned for his dramatic depictions of violent conflict.
Working mostly for the Grand Duke of Parma, Simonini was later lent to the Papal Court in Rome, where he continued to build his reputation as a skilled painter of landscape and battle.
Heading to auction on December 19 via the Sarasota Estate Auction is a chaotic battle scene by Simonini that documents the expulsion of the Turks from Austria. Simonini’s characteristic brushwork and color are marvelous and add yet another captivating element to an already magnetic image.
A swarming group of cavalry with swords in hand pounces on the fleeing Turks in a sweep of violent movement across the foreground. Dancing from left to right, horses rear on their hind legs, sprint, and topple over one another. Smoke rises from the middle ground before another distant group of cavalrymen advances toward a barely visible town. At close inspection, the surface of the painting is vivid with expressive, painterly strokes. Further, the juxtaposition of the light pastel skies and the dark battle below provides balance between light and shadow. Finally, points of saturated red, blue, and yellow found within the Turks’ dress dart around the piece, asking the viewer to continuously move across the picture and revealing the narrative.
Those seeking to stake a claim on the piece will need to act quickly. As Lot 9, the painting will be available early during the December 19 auction, which begins in earnest at 9 a.m. Auction estimates are between $40,000 and $60,000.
To view the full catalogue, visit Live Auctioneers.
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