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Swoon-ologia Italia

Bernini's "St Teresa in Ecstasy" a marble statue in St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome could be said to embody the concept of swoon-logia or more commonly called Stendahl's Syndrome.

“Stendalhl’s Syndrome,” or “Florence Syndrome” used by artists to describe a light-heartedness and emotional joy experienced when a viewer the emotionally transcendent message expressed by the artist in the work. My coined word for this emotional connection between artist and viewer is “swoon-ologia.”

Stendahl (1783-1842) - is credited with coining this term after visiting the basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. “I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty ... I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations ... Everything spoke so vividly to my soul. Ah, if I could only forget. I had palpitations of the heart, what in Berlin they call 'nerves'. Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling.”

The intense connection between painter and viewer I call "Swoon-ologia,"

A painting of the Tiber RIver in Rome at Sunrise by the author. A 24" x 26" oil on linen done en plein air on a morning early in June.

The author painting in Taormina, Sicily. The ancient Roman theatre was also painted by the American 19th c. artist, William Henry Hastletine

I experienced this on my first visit to Italy and Venice. While strolling I walked into what appeared to be just another huge basilica. This cathedral turned out to be The Church of The Frari, which contained Titian’s masterpiece, "The Assumption of the Virgin." The painting is a tour-de-force of dynamic figurative painting, with vivid coloration and amazing draftsmanship of a twisting Virgin, clad in beautiful and intense red, in clouds with gaze fixed heavenward. It has been described as the most accomplished expression of divinity with abundant depictions of rapture.

When I first saw this work of Titian's, I could almost hear trumpets or angels. In that instant I realized the power of art, and its power as a medium, to teach and inspire.

The author painting on the Island of Capri- with the natural bridge being depicted with a view south toward the Amalfi coast seen the background. The American Painter William Hastletine did a painting of this same motif in 1871

My purpose has been to recreate this effect in my work while painting en plein air and experiencing the atmosphere and light of Italy. Over more than twenty visits to Italy both painting and teaching , I have constantly sought to capture and teach the magic of the masters.

For example, I have painted some of the same sites that Corot painted, including the bridge at Narni, or the view of the ancient bridge, Ponte Fabricio. With students I visited and painted the sunset over a bridge the subject of a painting by Turner also painting outside Orvieto to discover that Turner had painted there in the 19th century. A Roman theater in Sicily painted by Haseltine provided another subject. Painters have been making pilgrimages to Italy for a long time to practice their art, learn from masters directly or to study their work.

The author painting a full moon rising over the ancient forum in Rome.

The author painting a sunset from Piazza Cafferelli near the Roman Forum.

My goal in my exhibition at the North Star Art Gallery in March 20202 is to share the joy of sitting in front of Roman antiquities, Tuscan and Umbrian agrarian scenes, Venetian light, or the beauty of the Amalfi coast from Capri. Seeing these landscapes and ancient ruins has long held a resonance and excitement for me that I hope offers a Stendahl Effect to visitors.

A view of Venice from a point near the Academia Bridge. This 18" x 20" oil by the author will be part of the show at the North Star Art Gallery in March of 2020.

To view some short vids of painting on location "en plein air" check out these Youtube links below. Also, the author has two full-length instructional DVD's on painting in Italy, available on his web sites- and A great way to learn from an award winning painter.

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