• Title: The Sacrilegious Theft
  • Creator Lifespan: 1667 - 1749
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Birth Place: Genoa
  • Date: around 1731
  • Provenance: Archbishop's Picture Gallery
  • Physical Dimensions: w236.5 x h177 cm
  • Painter: Alessandro Magnasco
  • Description: This painting is among the finest examples of Magnasco’s work because of the refinement of its execution and the orchestration of its space. The subject is the attempted sacrilegious theft that happened on January 6, 1731 in the abbey church of Santa Maria Assunta in Siziano (Pv), the provenance of the painting. The thieves were tried and sentenced to death. The placement of the figures in the scene transforms an event in local news, almost an ex voto, into a powerful and suggestive work. The scene is structured into two distinct narratives, clearly indicated by the Virgin, who stands above. On the left, the thieves are being chased by the dead who have come back to life, while on the top right, the thieves are shown being hung. The visionary scope of the scene comes from the elongated, darting figures, masterfully depicted with quick brushstrokes and white highlights. The colors are earthy, with green-brown tones, which help give the painting the almost macabre atmosphere that characterizes it. The work, signed by the artist on the tombstone in the center of the composition, is one of the few fixed points used to reconstruct the chronology of his life.
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: © Archivio fotografico Museo Diocesano, Milano
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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