Eleuterio Pagliano - inv. 267

Eleuterio Pagliano (1826-1903)

The Origin of the Compagnia della Misericordia
oil on canvas  
98 x 121,5 cm
signature and date
"E. Pagliano 1857"
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 267

not on display
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Dated 1857, the canvas was presented the same year in Milan at the Brera Academy exhibition, where it was purchased by marchioness Rosa Trivulzio, mother of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli.
The painting, set in fifteenth-century Florence, illustrates an episode that, traditionally, leads to the reconstruction of the Compagnia della Misericordia. Founded in the thirteenth century, this confraternity had among its duties the burial of poor people, a task which was taken from it in 1425, when the political authorities merged it with the Company of the Bigallo.
The canvas illustrates the dramatic moment in which a citizen lays in front of the gonfalonier the body of a young woman, left unburied in Santa Croce because it had arrived after the hour appointed for burials.  This provocative act would have thus underlined the need to reinstate the Compagnia della Misericordia  and to entrust it again with all its tasks.

Following the principles of history painting, the artist has paid great attention to the correct characterization of the clothing of the figures and to the convincing setting of the scene. Following the teaching of Domenico Morelli, Pagliano nevertheless grafts onto the historical subject a veristic sensitivity, making his characters not only the walk-ons of a re-evocation, but the actors of a drama.


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