Domenico Piola
Genoa 1627 - 1703 Genoa
The Supper at Emmaus

Pen and brown ink with brown wash on tinted beige paper

200 x 275 mm. (8 x 10 in.)

Domenico Piola was the leading artist in Genoa in the second half of the seventeenth century. From a family of artists who would dominate the art of that city until 1768, Piola developed his highly popular fresco style largely from Castiglione and Castello, his immediate artistic predecessors. He was also a prolific draughtsman, and his many designs for book illustrations and academic frontispieces promoted his work throughout Europe. The elements of Castigliones work that Piola absorbed led to the undulating figures, streamlined twisting draperies and diagonal composition that typify his drawing style. Piola and his son-in-law, Gregorio de Ferrari, created a bold decorative idiom that provided Genoa with a late Baroque style that rivaled the activity of contemporary Rome.

Our drawing of the Supper at Emmaus is a good example of Piolas draftsmanship. The dramatic yet well balanced composition of the drawing, with its characteristic butterscotch colored wash, suggests that it might have been a study for a painting. However, no such painting has been found to date. There is another possibly earlier drawing of the same subject from the Winthrop Newman collection. Note the masterful handling of the wash to create dramatic lighting on the face of Christ, and the numerous pentimenti seen in the hands as Piola worked to bring greater balance into the overall composition.