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: Giovanni Battista Langetti, “Sorrow.”
Although he was orphaned at a very young age, late Baroque painter Giovanni Battista Langetti (1635-1676) managed to achieve artistic success in 17th-century Italy. Likely raised by Giovan Battista Carlone and his family, Langetti began his artistic training at the Genoese parish of Santa Sabina, where the young painter was heavily influenced by the naturalistic style of local master Gioacchino Assereto. Assereto’s strong use of tenebrism found its way into Langetti’s pictures as well.
Specializing in paintings of biblical heroes, prophets, pagan characters, and philosophers, Langetti’s work was well received in Naples and, later, Venice. Scholars have attributed part of the painter’s success to the neo-Stoic culture popular during the mid-17th century. Langetti’s style, which includes strong tenebrism, a saturated palette, and dramatic compositions, is often closely associated with Baroque masters Jusepe de Ribera and, of course, Michelangelo Caravaggio.
Among a number of other notable works, Langetti’s “Sorrow” will appear during Auctionata’s Old Master & 19th Century Paintings sale on April 27 in Berlin, Germany. The beautiful canvas, dated 1663, displays a deceased Christ recently deposed from the cross. Christ lays reclined, still wearing his crown of thorns. A faint light glows just behind his head as a dramatic light illuminates the scene from the left, outside the frame. A strong diagonal structure dominates the composition, giving the somber scene a degree of tension and uneasiness, a feature appropriate for the picture’s subject. Significantly, neither Mary nor Saint John appears in the scene. Rather, Langetti has elected to include a number of mournful putti at Christ’s side. Across the upper right of the canvas, dramatically lit putti are displayed in various states of flight, frozen by the artist in twisting gestures. Barely discernible are two angels directly next to Christ. One gracefully holds Christ’s limp forearm and kisses it tenderly while another appears to hold a shroud in its hands, perhaps foreshadowing the martyr’s burial. All told, the painting is a magnificent piece of Italian history and a fine example of Baroque painting. Bidding will start at €40,000, though auction estimates are expected to exceed €80,000.
To view the full catalogue, visit Auctionata.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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