Federico Moja - inv. 42
During the second half of the 19th century, Federico Moja was one of the most esteemed artists of the genre of perspective painting, exemplified by this small watercolour. This genre was initiated in Milan by Giovanni Migliara, who had been Moja’s maestro, and depicts architectural views and monumental interiors. Moja won recognition and success in this field, to the extent of being called to teach perspective in the Academy in Venice in 1845, a position he held for a good thirty years.
In this work, Moja depicts a cross-view of the transept of a great Gothic cathedral, showing the backs of a group of faithful kneeling at prayer in front of a side chapel. The architecture of the building and its monuments have been rendered in exemplary perspective. His free and lively use of watercolour portrays the statues and monuments decorating the majestic interior with fluid touches, concerned more with chiaroscuro contrasts than with detailed definition. A slanting, fluid, transparent brushstroke suffices to render the shaft of light that enters from the great rose window on the right and falls on the minute, but animated, crowd in prayer.
The work was donated to the newly instituted Poldi Pezzoli Foundation by the architect Pagis in 1880, a year therefore before the Museum opened to the public.