Just in time for the peak of Carnival season, the Uffizi Galleries have unveiled a new addition to their Baroque collection: a 17th-century masquerade scene by the Austrian artist Johann Paul Schor.
The sizeable masterpiece (1.22m by 3.17m), which won first prize at Florence’s International Biennale Antiques Fair, portrays the 1664 Carnival procession in Rome of Prince Giovanni Battista Borghese. More than one hundred figures draped in gold and wearing laurel wreaths surround the prince’s baroque float as onlookers watch this otherworldly sight from their balconies. The upper section of the float is occupied by members of the Roman aristocracy sitting around a fountain against a backdrop of golden-leaved trees, while guarded by a menacing dragon.
Hidden among the crowd are figures from Commedia dell’Arte, with Arlecchino driving a horse-drawn cart; in the far left, an apple is falling in mid-air, about to drop on a masked-figure’s head; and even Schor couldn’t help but join the celebration by including himself in the bottom right corner of the work, holding a manuscript with his signature.
The painting will soon be displayed in Palazzo Pitti’s new Museum of Carriages (Museo delle Carrozze), with Schor representing the European influence on the Italian Baroque scene.