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Jan Miel, The Limekiln
1650 ca.
Material and technique
oil on canvas
87 x 163 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
The scene is set in an imaginary place, dominated by the huge furnace that gives the painting its title. The complex of ruins and farm buildings resembles the fortified constructions found in the Roman campagna. Numerous figures are grouped around the kiln, although the artist does not link them to the work performed there. Instead, the unusual building becomes a narrative device that allows Miel to describe the day-to-day life of a marginalized section of the populace.
As is evident from this painting, Miel was strongly influenced by the work of the Bamboccianti, so much so that for a long time his paintings were mistaken for works of Pieter van Laer, known as ‘Il Bamboccio’, and Michelangelo Cerquozzi. The Limekiln is one of two versions of the same subject attributed to Miel and inspired by a similarly themed painting by van Laer. The scene is dominated by busy groups of figures: card players, musicians, men and women making camp among the dogs and rag merchants. The painter’s aim is to portray the human dimension of the lesser-known Rome of the poor people, so dear to the Bamboccianti and so far-removed from the world depicted in those years by the great masters of Baroque painting.
The Limekiln
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