Antonio Maria Viani
Italian, c. 1555–c. 1635
Design for a Ceiling with Angels and Putti Bearing Emblems of the Passion, c. 1600
pen, brown ink, blue-grey wash over black chalk, heightened with white on blue paper faded green, squared in red and black chalk for transfer
50 x 59.9 cm Image: 44.8 x 56.9 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from the Louisa J. McBean Bequest
One of the most gifted Italian artists working in the tradition of Giulio Romano, Antonio Maria Viani created this preparatory drawing for a larger decorative scheme for a church ceiling. Typical of the elaborately decorated ceilings of the Italian Baroque, this ambitious composition depicts a celestial space with a multitude of putti and angels floating amongst the billowing clouds. They hold various heraldic instruments of Christ’s Passion known as the Arma Christi, including the spear, the crown of thorns, and the loincloth of Christ. Presented as emblems of salvation and redemption, these insignia were meant to help the faithful achieve a higher level of spiritual contemplation of the resurrected Christ. In 1586 Viani moved to Munich to assume his duties in the court of William V, Duke of Bavaria (1548–1626), and in 1592 he returned to Italy to work in the court of Vincenzo I Gonzaga, 4th Duke of Mantua (1562–1612).