To my family members (and interested friends):
Our cousin Alfonso Buongiorno, whom we met in Italy in 2018, recently sent me this link to a website that features the paintings on the ceiling of the Collegiata church in Solofra, Avellino, Italy, our Troisi and Buongiorno hometown.
Check out this amazing presentation, everyone. Click on any panel for a fabulous enlargement–that enlarges even more!
I think all the scenes are episodes from the life of Christ. Curiously, none are of St. Michael the Archangel, whom the church is named for and who is featured EVERYwhere else (behind the altar, on the exterior doors, etc.) It makes me wonder if they dedicated and named the church after the ceiling was done, maybe? If I could actually read Italian, I might be able to figure this out.
I’m fascinated by the putti characters in some scenes, and in the frames around other scenes. Their faces, and even the faces of the major characters, look like portraits of real people to me. Do any of them look like Buongiornos or Troisis we know? Both of our families were in Solofra by this time (1600s).
The painters of the images in this church were a father and son pair of local men named Guarino or Guarini (they aren’t sure which, seriously, or maybe both names were used by each at different times, I’m not sure) who both studied in Naples with Caravaggio. The Caravaggio influence is clear by the “realness” of the portraits (figures’ faces) and by the dramatic lighting in several of these images, AND we had a Caravaggio lesson from Lucia Petrone when we were in the church. Check out the detail about a figure’s dirty feet here: https://feetonthegroundnyc.com/we-meet-lucia-petrone/
Did neither of these painters ever grab a little Troisi boy (Grandpa’s great-great-great-something) to model for them and memorialize forever??? (It’s my fantasy that we are going to see someone we recognized one of these days in one of these paintings, if we just keep looking….)
By the way, our great-grandfather Beniamino Troisi’s mother’s maiden name was Guarino, so maybe we are descended from these famous artists! I don’t know if it’s likely, or if it’s a common name in town and, therefore, not likely. I haven’t gotten close enough to any of our Solofra contacts, and my Italian isn’t good enough, to sort that out, but it’s on my list of details to nail down (I hope) on my next trip.