Claudio Giulianelli was born in 1956 in Rome, Italy. Like a lot of artists, art was not his original chosen career path. Initially, he studied chemical sciences, but soon his interest in the arts became greater and he began to study the history of art and focus on painting techniques. This interest in art arose in Claudio, so he says, during his summer holidays as a child in Porto Ercole, Tuscany, where he learned of the legend of Caravaggio’s (1571 - 1610) death from old fishermen. Supposedly, Caravaggio made it to the area on foot before dying in a hospital there of a deadly fever in 1610 and is said to be buried in a cemetery nearby; this is enough to grab the attention of any child and draw them into the dramatic art world. He also has mentioned that he was left “bewildered” by the work of Hieronymus Bosch (1450 - 1516) as a schoolchild. His works are heavily influenced by these 15th and 16th century artists.
Claudio Giulianelli considers himself to be a “symbolist” painter as well as “hermetic” and creates works in which the primary figures interact with the subject of alchemy in the creative sense, and in his words paints the “mystery of nature”. In this month’s auction, we have a work by the artist that showcases his personal style as well as undeniable skill for rendering the human form. Lot 518 in the November Sale is titled La Regina (2021) and is an oil on canvas painting by the artist. The painting shows ‘La Regina’ or ‘The Queen’ holding what appears to be a marionette puppet which were popular for entertainment in Italy during the Renaissance, in particular during the commedia dell’arte period in the 16th century; perhaps a direct reference to the period relating to the work of his influence, Caravaggio.
The vivid colours used in all of Claudio’s works are congruent with someone who has been influenced by the work of Bosch, particularly Garden of Earthly Delights (1503 – 1515). The “mystery of nature” is also reflected in this piece as the stillness of the setting contrasts with the almost otherworldly nature of the Queen’s headdress. Claudio’s skill as a portraitist is also clear in this work through the proportions of the figure as well as the rendering of the oil on her skin and the projection of her collarbones and muscles beneath it. The Queen holds the marionette puppet as though it is a baby, and we can see his lifelike eyes looking up at her in awe; a comment perhaps on a royal looking after her subjects in exchange for admiration.
As a contemporary artist, it is interesting that Claudio Giulianelli chooses not to address political topics in his work, as is currently a popular approach in the art world. He uses neutral themes and unidentifiable figures to connect with a broad audience and allow for differing perspectives on subject matter. The titles of his works are often vague, only slightly guiding the audience in the way of interpretation or simply to give context to the viewer. Claudio has shown internationally in both joint and solo shows over 33 times, in countries such as England, China, USA, Colombia, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates, to name only a few. His works are in both public and private collections around the world, such as the Palazzo della Cancelleria in the Vatican, in galleries, homes, and also in churches in Italy and Austria. Claudio Giulianelli’s La Regina would be a welcome addition to wherever it is hung; bringing brightness and life to a room along with an element of mystery and magic in the subject matter.