This oil painting was painted by the Italian artist Giuseppe Maria Crespi (1665 – 1747), also known at the time as Il Spagnolo. Specifically, the work was carried out between 1709 and 1710, and is preserved today in the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence.
Crespi is the main representative of Bolognese painting of late Baroque and early Rococo art. A pictorial current that can be considered inaugurated by the creations of the Carracci brothers, above all with the art of Anibale Carracci author of very “official” works” such as the Farnese Gallery, but also others that are much more informal. And it is precisely with these last ones that the art of the Late Baroqueor Crespi can be most closely related.
Crespi's Flea Finder
The informality is very clear in this scene where we see a woman looking for fleas in her nightgown and on her body. Although it is not necessary to understand the image with a burlesque spirit. Actually, he presents us with a daily scene during the morning toilet, and in fact this same theme was captured in other of his works. But not only him, but also painters such asBartolomé Esteban Murillowho painted paintings such as The Young Beggar, where we see a child also looking for parasites on his body.
The truth is that Crespi was one of theprotected artists of the Duke of Ferrara, and this aristocrat had an important collection of Dutch painting, where there was no shortage of costumbrist works with the most everyday scenes, so it would not be strange if could inspire in them.
Also in Italy there are examples of this type of painting with the most everyday and mundane themes. In fact, the Carracci were the main promoters of genre painting, as did Caravaggio. Although, Caravaggio did not make any difference between one type of theme and another.
Regarding Crespi's style, we see a painter who resorts to a very loose technique, of touch and stain, somewhat sketchy. These characteristics also link him to Pietro Longhi, the contemporary Venetian painter of his. An artist known to have traveled to Bologna and contacted Crespi.
In short, we are dealing with a work and an artist with multiple influences, from Carracci's customs to the sketches of a painter likeGuido Reniat the end of life of the. Not to mention the chiaroscuro inheritors of Caravaggio's art that can be seen on this canvas.