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Buon anniversario

Behind the scenes

Today it's buon anniversario to Girolamo Nerli, born this day in Sienna, in 1863.

Girolamo Nerli Bacchanalian Feast. Oil on canvas. Collection Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū; purchased 1970.

Girolamo Nerli Bacchanalian Feast. Oil on canvas. Collection Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū; purchased 1970.

Bacchanalian Feast was one of the first works acquired by the Robert McDougall Art Gallery's new, young director Brian Muir. He was appointed in 1969 and this work was acquired the following year. He wrote about it with breathless excitement in the first issue of his other innovation Survey, the Gallery's newsletter. On page seven he wrote:

Bacchanalian Feast is a gem of movement and emotion. It is no sober appraisal or geological dreaming. Nerli-like, it has associations with Italy and with the contemporary. Vaguely out of the Macchiaoli out of the Barbizon School, it is a wild sketch and splash of colour flinging itself against the solid background of solemn columns. The people in it have their own festivity; scarves and fur, garlands and an urn, gigantic, and pink with frivolity.

It's a tiny painting, smaller than a sheet of A4, yet as Brian Muir suggests, the energy just dances off the canvas.

Well bought Brian and many happy returns Girolamo.