Cristoforo Savolini
Italian, 1639 ‑ 1677
The Expulsion of Hagar, about 1675
Oil on canvas
40 × 37 in. (101.6 × 94 cm.)
Gift of Mrs. Baylor O. Hickman  1970.43

Painting, Interrupted
This unfinished painting reveals the artist’s preferred technique. First, Savolini prepared his canvas by applying a layer of reddish-brown paint to the entire canvas. This gave him a smooth surface suitable for painting, and it allowed brighter colors to “pop” against the dark background. Then, Savolini sketched the general outline of his forms in white. Next, he focused on finishing the anatomical details of the figures—faces, hands, legs—before painting their garments. Finally, he
would have completed the composition by adding a background. Due to tragic circumstances, this painting was never completed. At age thirty-eight, when he was at the height of his career, Savolini was killed in a horse riding accident. The Expulsion of Hagar was found in his studio shortly after his death. Three other pictures, including a Madonna and Child, were also found in a similar state of progress.