‘Le saut de l’Ange’ – Oil on canvas – 18th century – Italy – [ME102]
This oil on canvas painting from 18th century Italy, titled “Le saut de l’Ange,” is associated with Baroque aesthetics. The painter plays with the effects of light and contrasts of chiaroscuro. The depth is not solely based on rigorous geometric perspectives and straight lines. The impression of movement is conveyed through the very expressive gestures of the characters, communicating through their gaze. This painting shows us the efforts of a love-stricken suitor to seduce his beloved and the probable fall of a figure in the background, near a precipice. Can falling in love lead to falling from a great height? This seems to be the allegorical question that the artist is asking us.
Don’t we say “falling in love”? This 18th-century Italian oil painting seems to play, if I may say so, “on both fronts.” The dizzying fall, whether emotional or fatal, is located in the foreground of this painting, as well as in the background.
In the foreground, the bucolic scene narrows around a seduction attempt, a figure from the famous Dance of Love. On an overturned barrel and out of sight, outside the Domain, a suitor offers a snack – slices of melon and a glass of white wine – to a lady who seems to politely turn away. But who is this other woman, proudly carrying a laundry basket on her head, who sneaks away as if not to disturb?
In the background, the chiaroscuro approach to this painting reveals a feudal mound bristling with guard towers, illuminated by a sky that seems to be clearing. Nevertheless, at the edge of the precipice, a strange tree openly evokes the silhouette of a human being, with arms outstretched, ready to jump into the void.
Who will fall in love, who will fall from a great height? That is the mystery of this oil on canvas painting titled “Le saut de l’Ange,” a plunge that, from the top of a rock or the depths of a changing heart, always remains hazardous.
Height: 130 cm width: 97 cm