Now celebrated for raising everyday subject to parity with other genres in Italian art, Crespi was adept with pastoral or religious themes, notably in his youthful masterpiece, "The marriage at Cana". Trained in his native Bologna in the tradition of its 17th-century classical painters, Crespi transcended those origins through his study of late Renaissance and Baroque art. Crespi painted "The marriage at Cana" in his early twenties; this sumptuous work, depicting the miracle when Christ turned water into wine, established the artist's reputation.
The work renders homage to Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) whose enormous "Marriage at Cana" (now in the Louvre) Crespi may have seen in Venice, and to Federico Barocci (1530-1612) whose art he studied, principally in Urbino. Crespi quotes specific details from celebrated works by each artist; numerous stylistic borrowings-for example, Veronese's use of high color of Barocci's depiction of movement though bodily torsion-show Crespi subtle assimilation of past achievements.
Many years passed before Crespi could equal the excellence of this work, which critics rank among the most impressive paintings of the late-17th century. In his maturity, Cerspi's work became wholly distinctive in its warm humanity; it is often humorous but can also echo the sobriety of Dutch art. Crespi exerted great influence on younger painters, such as Giambattista Piazzetta and Pietro Longhi.
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