Entertainment in a garden of Albaro
Alessandro Magnasco, detto Lissandrino
In the garden of Villa Saluzzo called Paradiso, a well-known suburban residence in Genoa on the slopes of the Albaro hill, a group of nobles and some ecclesiastics spend their hours amiably: a crumbling wall separates them from the vast landscape that can be enjoyed from that terracing of the park. Ladies, knights, cicisbei and prelates whose light and dark cassocks constitute pauses of light, marking the sequence of vanity of the whole, are observed by the painter who, aloof, at the service of the lords, but not participating in their world, is intent to portray the scene, noting every detail. Magnasco's agile, flickering and at the same time precise touch, with irony and critical spirit, shows the now inexorable disintegration of the society of the ancien régime, which appears unaware of how much his own "golden paradise" is threatened from the outside, if a boy with clothes crumpled it manages, undisturbed, to climb over the ruined wall. Three quarters of the composition are occupied by the panorama overlooking the villa, the true protagonist, at least quantitatively, of the painting; Magnasco gives a meticulous recording of it, revealing an adherence to truth very close to the spirit of the Enlightenment, for which the view, which the unusual format of the painting recalls, is an instrument of investigation and rationalization of space, not at all in contrast with the conscious dissent of the 'author towards the decorative and celebratory purposes in vogue at his time. Critics, by now unanimously, place this canvas around 1740, when, returning to Genoa, his hometown, Magnasco re-proposed themes and ways that had made him famous in Florence and Milan for the more conformist and less up-to-date Genoese client.