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Lanzani, Andrea
The Blind Belisarius The Blind Belisarius
around 1695 around 1695

A blind man props himself up from the ground with a beggar’s cup in his hand, as a woman reaches over to give him alms. A soldier coming up behind him raises his hand and grimaces in shock at the scene. A message on a strip of paper affixed above the beggar’s forehead identifies the man as the great Byzantine general Belisarius (around 500–565). The artist of this large easel painting has combined robust forms and powerful feeling with lavish drapery passages and decorative pastel colours for an exhilarating overall effect. The protagonist takes a typical beggar’s pose, humbly lying on the ground but propping himself up on one arm. His figure looms in the foreground, filling the space, its robust frame and musculature hinting at the aged warrior’s former prowess. No decorum spares the viewer from confronting Belisarius’s empty eye sockets, accentuated with blackish tones. His physical demeanour forms a strong contrast with the woman’s smooth, rounded features, which the artist adapted quite directly from a print after a painting of the same theme by the Genovese artist Luciano Borzone (1590–1645).

 
Lanzani, Andrea
Milan, Italy 1641–Milan, Italy 1712 Milan, Italy 1641–Milan, Italy 1712
The Blind Belisarius The Blind Belisarius
around 1695 around 1695
Oil on canvas Oil on canvas
height / width: 139.00 x 178.40 cm; 54.72 x 70.24 in.
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Bader, 1971 Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Bader, 1971
14-006

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