Francesco Morone - inv. 1551
This is a masterpiece by Francesco Morone, one of the most important painters in Verona between the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth century, son of Domenico and heir to the largest workshop in the city. The dimensions and shape of this work would suggest that it was perhaps originally destined to decorate a chest.
The famous episode comes from the Book of Judges (16: 18-19): Samson, seduced by the beautiful Delilah, falls asleep and his enemies succeed in cutting off the seven plaits on his head, thus depriving the hero of his superhuman strength. The painting faithfully follows the biblical text, even with the presence of the young man, on the left, who is cutting Samson’s hair (a figure almost always ignored when this episode is represented).
What strikes one, however, is the calm tone of the narration, with its delicate and slow gestures. The setting too, with the beautiful early sixteenth-century costumes and architecture defined by sure foreshortening, reflects courtly taste, close to the contemporary production of Vittore Carpaccio, the greatest narrator of Venetian painting who had a decisive influence on Francesco Morone’s art. The poor state of conservation of the painting does not unfortunately allow a satisfactory reading of the work from a stylistic point of view.