The sketch is a useful example of Bigari’s work in the late-Baroque period. The intricate stucco work depicted here became one of the overall key characteristics of Baroque interiors, enhancing wall spaces, niches and ceilings. The immense attention to detail in Bigari’s sketch, filled with natural curving forms and punctuated with a sweet cherub figure, illustrates the emphasis that was placed on exaggerated decoration at the time.
While it has not been possible to connect this drawing with any existing mural or decoration by the artist, the complexity of the design certainly suggests that it was an important commission. A close comparison may be made with a drawing by Bigari now in a private Bolognese collection, which is a study for the quadratura design and fresco of Apollo Crowning for the Muse of Painting on the vault of the Palazzo Bovi-Tacconi in Bologna, painted in around 1761.
Vittorio Maria Bigari was the leading decorative painter in Bologna in the middle of the 18th century. Bigari began his career as a scenographic painter and stuccatore. He soon developed a particular reputation, however, as a master of large-scale mural and ceiling frescos, often working as a figure painter in collaboration with designers of elaborate, illusionistic architectural decorations, such as Stefano Orlandi.
Bigrari travelled extensively throughout Northern Italy, fulfilling commissions in Faenza, Milan, Ferrara and Turin. Although never enrolled in the Accademia Clementina in Bologna Bigari was four times elected principle of the institution between 1734 and 1773.