Cefalù, 1572 - Napels, 1645
Saint Lucia

polychrome wax relief on glass, wooden and gilt bronze frame

cm 12,5 x 10,5



Giovanni Bernardino Azzolini was born in Cefalù in 1556 and died in Neaples in 1645, where he spent most of his life. It was in Genoa around 1610 and then in Rome, where he was registered in the book of the “academic” painters of the Urbe in 1618 (P. A. Orlandi, Abecedario, ed. 1753). Orlandi says that in his works in wax he was a sublime inventor who had no equal.
Saint Lucia is here represented with a suffering but serene face, her hair framing the face in soft wawes. The rich green and ocher colored dress decorated with gold motifs and the delicate white petticoat are spotted with the blood, coming out from the wound at the base of the neck where a dagger is stucked.
The quality of this relief suggests that the author may be Giovan Bernardino Azzolini: the stylistic comparison of the known works in wax known by Azzolini, such as the series of the Last Four Things, shows the same hand. The modeling of the soft waves of hair and also of the delicate neck is the same as in Azzolini’s Blessed Soul, the head is bowed as in the Soul in Purgatory. In the artist’s biography there are mentioned only the Last Four Things as works in wax but we may suppose that the sicilian artist might also have done a representation of Saint Lucia, because she was very popular and loved among the sicilian devotees. In a private collection there is another version of the Sain Lucia, presumably by the same author, in which there is also the cup with eyes, which is the traditional attribute of this Saint.
This iconography with a dagger in the throat is quite rare, an example of the end of the sixteenth century is the statue of Saint Lucia in silver in the Cathedral of Syracuse.

Comparative literature: A. GONZÁLES - PALACIOS, Un adornamento vicereale per Napoli, in S.Causa, edited by, Civiltà del Seicento a Napoli, 2 vols., II, Napoli 1994, pp. 289 -290.