Alessandro Magnasco is described in the sources as a Genoese painter who moved to Milan in 1672 and was apprenticed, after his father’s death, to one of the most influential producers of dramatic and scenic altarpieces in 17th century Lombardy: Filippo Abbiati. Although the artist would always remain tied to his hometown – where his family still lived – his experience in Lombardy and with his master, in particular, had a significant influence on his style. Rigorous adherence to reality and a lack of attention to the narration of facts can be seen in his early pictorial production, firmly rooted in religious subjects, keeping with Abbiati’s tradition. A turning point in his production can be dated to the last decade of the XVII century when the painter began to devote himself to general scenes without renouncing the characteristic vein of realism and scenography that distinguishes his style. For instance, in this canvas, the colours retain the dramatic quality through which it is possible to recognise Magnasco’s hand, and the atmosphere is nervous, dramatically rendered through a fast, lashing, yet careful brushstroke. It is worth noting this artist’s use of white and light-coloured paints to render the bodies: it is used to bring out the individual elements of the clouds, the men’s limbs, and the snow on the mountains in the distance, making the depiction dramatic but never gloomy.
Bibl.: L. De Rossi, Due paesaggi con figure di A. M. e Antonio Francesco Peruzzini, in Arte. Documento, 2003, 17-19, pp. 456-461.