ALBANI, Francesco
(b. 1578, Bologna, d. 1660, Bologna)

The Four Elements: Water

1626-28
Oil on canvas, diameter 180 cm
Galleria Sabauda, Turin

Although in Rome Albani worked for Guido Reni in the chapel of the Quirinal Palace, he remained in these years essentially devoted to Domenichino's type of classicism. Even before returning to Bologna, his special gift led him towards light-hearted and appealing representations of myth and allegory in landscape settings of the sort that is perhaps best exemplified by the Four Elements in Turin, painted in 1626-28.

In the allegory of Water, Galatea on a shell chariot is pulled by dolphins, surrounded by nereids, tritons, river gods and cupids. On the foreground shore, to the left, nereids and cupids are playing with pearls and coral.