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Viladomat, Antonio

Barcelona (Spain), 1678 - Barcelona (Spain), 1755

Son of the gilder Salvador Viladomat, he received training from Pascual B. Savall and Juan Bautista Perramon. On the occasion of the War of Succession to the Spanish Crown, the court of the Archduke Charles (for whom various foreign artists collaborated) based itself in Barcelona for some years. This context gave rise to a decisive encounter between the painter and the set designer Ferdinando Galli-Bibiena, who introduced him to Italian art. In Barcelona they cooperated on the decoration of San Miguel church (which was subsequently destroyed). Antonio Viladomat achieved a personal style in which elements of 17th-century naturalism merged with Baroque gesticulations and attitudes. In 1720 he married Eulalia Esmandia, and three years later he became a licensed painter even though he always maintained a certain degree of independence from the strict tutelage of the Barcelona Association of Painters. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya houses his best-known work, the 20 canvases depicting the life of Saint Francis (1722–1724) and painted for the cloister of the Franciscan convent in Barcelona. According to Ceán Bermúdez, this was his masterpiece, and the series is directly linked to the severe gravity of the Spanish monastic painters, especially Zurbarán’s. This project was followed by a larger one, which includes 40 canvases for the chapel of Dolores in the church of Santa María de Mataró (1727–1737). His genre scenes are also of interest, of which his Allegories of the Four Seasons (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona) are a good example. His still lifes of kitchen items, such as Still Life with a Turkey located in the same museum, embrace the tradition of Tenebrist chiaroscuro, while simultaneously foreshadowing some of Goya’s works of the same genre. His legacy was widely disseminated thanks to the workshop he established in Carrer del Bou, where the Tramullas brothers, among others, received instruction. One of his religious canvases is held by the Museo del Prado, The Holy Family with Saint Augustine, and it depicts a passage from the Confessions in which the baby Jesus wounds the saint’s heart with an arrow. The painting originates from the legacy of Pablo Bosch (1915) (González Escribano, R. in: Encyclopaedia M.N.P., 2006, vol. VI, pp. 2180–81).

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