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Paolo De Matteis, The Triumph of Galatea
Biblical - Historical - Mythologic
Material and technique
oil on canvas
230 x 280 cm
Alessandro Zuccari

This fine depiction of The Triumph of Galatea, signed and dated ‘Paulo de Matteis 1700’, comes from the Gualino Collection. It achieves a very successful balance between seventeenth-century Baroque and the Classicism of the art academies of the eighteenth century.
The mythological subject, which is taken from classical literature and was very a popular theme in painting in the  sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, is the story of one of the fifty nymphs of the sea, born of Nereus and Doris. The busy, joyful scene shows the goddess seated on a shell-shaped chariot drawn by two dolphins.  Nymphs, tritons and cupids take part in the triumphal procession, while Acis, the handsome Sicilian shepherd with whom the nymph was in love, looks on from afar.
The predominantly warm tones of the painting are pleasing against the deep blue of Galatea’s cloak, which billows out in a curve as in ancient depictions of the same subject. The Arcadian atmosphere and classical stamp of the painting recall the work of Carlo Maratta and of the Roman painter Luigi Garzi, ably mingled with the decorative tendency and Veronesian style of Luca Giordano, de Matteis’s first teacher. The painting was probably executed in Naples, where the artist frescoed the pharmacy of the Carthusian Monastery of San Martino in 1699.

The Triumph of Galatea
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