Celina of Tuscany

Vinciata (American, 1911—1996)

created circa 1970
Oil on Canvas, 14.25" x 27"
A Gift of the Stuart and Barbara Padnos Foundation
Physical rights are retained by Grand Valley State University. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. Copyright laws.
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About The Artwork

Born in rural Virginia, Vinciata (Joseph Wallace King) embraced painting early in his life. He began art classes in high school and soon after found employment designing theatre sets and decorating department store windows. His first visit to Florence proved decisive and the Italian inspiration profoundly affected his work. The artist experimented with styles ranging from expressionism to Neoclassicism, and throughout his career he moved fluidly between the various approaches.

Celina of Tuscany exemplifies his Neoclassical work, which he distinguished from commissioned portraits and other genres through his pseudonymous signature Vinciata. As Vinciata, the artist drew inspiration from Italian Renaissance music, painting and architecture. He modeled his works on quattrocento and cinquecento altarpieces, in triptych form or as single panels, which demonstrated unity between the figure and background and employed atmospheric and linear perspective as well as chiaroscuro modeling.

Taking its cue from the format and style of such paintings, Celina of Tuscany is a traditional triptych featuring a young girl set against a rural Tuscan landscape. Even though Vinciata uses three separate panels, the composition suggests that we read them from left to right as one continuous scene. Landscape elements on the left panel continue into the center, which then flow into the right panel. A low horizon line allows the artist to paint a dramatic, Romantic sky laden with heavy clouds. Customary Tuscan elements — cypress trees, Medieval-era castles with crenellated towers, and panoramic hilltop views — characterize this work. Indeed, the castle in the right panel resembles the Castello di Vincigliata, the Florentine stronghold that the artist visited during one of his first trips to Italy, from which he adopted his pseudonym. Vinciata unites the sitter with the background through color, repeating the golden hues of the clouds in Celina’s eyes and clothing.

After the artist’s death, his widow donated Vinciata’s archives and a collection of paintings to Elon University in North Carolina.


Assistant Professor, Frederik Meijer Honors College, Grand Valley State University



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