Curator’s Choice

Two Angels

Two Angels

Two Angels - Battista Naldini (1537-1591)

Francesco Curradi, Florentine, 1570-1661
Oil on canvas, circa 17th century
H 36 in. x W 36 in.
Museum Purchase

Two Angels, by Francesco Curradi, is probably a detail from a
much larger work, as evidenced by the emerging handholding the book at the left side of the canvas. Undoubtedly, it was salvaged as a beautiful remainder of some damaged piece. Perhaps it was painted for one of the many churches or religious orders in Florence, or commissioned as a private altarpiece by one of the affluent merchant families of the city.

Curradi has presented the youthful angels in true celestial majesty and unique sophistication. Rendered in a very realistic manner, they appear quite human in form and depict the beauty of the Florentine portraiture, with their noble expressions, serenity and almost pensive attitude.

In the artistic sense, these are probably angels of Virtue, shown with their symbols of purity and Christ's Passion, so clearly evident. The more dominant angel on the right wears a crimson robe, symbolizing loyalty to Christ and his teachings. He bears ornamented silver salver which displays a crystal and silver cruet containing the Sacred Wine, a symbol of Christ's precious blood. The angel on the left, somewhat subdued by shadows, holds a radiant spray of white lilies in his right hand, signifying purity and chastity, as he too gazes in deep reverence at the symbol of Christ's Passion.

The overall effect of the composition is dramatic, with Curradi's excessive use of chiaroscuro (strong contrasts of light and shade). He draws attention to the pale faces and hands of his subjects and likewise the detailed symbols of the painting by juxtaposing extremes of color and value. Here he excels as a colorist – a true Florentine in every sense.

Exhibition History:
Knights of Columbus Museum
A Gift of Faith: Knights of Columbus Religious Art Collection
Aug. 1 - Sept. 30, 2001, New Haven, Conn.

Francesco Curradi,

Francesco Curradi began his studies under the direction of Giovanni
Battista Naldini (1537-1591) and later attended the Accademia del Disegno in Florence.
Both Curradi and his teacher, Naldini, looked to the style of Lodovico Cardi, also known as Cigoli, one of the leading Florentine painters of the 17th century. Curradi painted in the Counter-Mannerist style. Several of his paintings hang in various churches in Florence, as well as in the Uffizi Gallery.