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ASSIDUOUS attention to the study of anatomy totally deranged the mind of Cigoli, which unjust persecutions had previously disturbed. He passed three years in a state of insanity, yet never wholly forbore amusing himself in his art. He had, at times, some lucid intervals, during which he produced several small compositions, worthy of the talent he displayed. Upon his convalescence, his genius developed itself with an animation that excited envy, but confounded all competition.
As Cigoli finished his works, it required the utmost precaution to take them out of his hands, in order to preserve them; for, in his paroxysms of madness, when he discovered a picture, he took his brush, and without altering, in the least, the disposition of the whole, converted every figure into a skeleton. This mania produced, one day, the most singular effect. A picture was given to him by one of his friends, representing Venus surrounded by the Loves; Cigoli amused himself with dissecting the goddess, but as he had not time also to disfigure the Loves, Venus remained under her hideous form, in the midst of the laughing group.
It was, probably, during the time he was in this unhappy condition, that Cigoli painted his Flight into Egypt. The great charm of this little piece consists in
the naïveté, which reigns no less in the execution, than in the idea. Cigoli did not possess, in an eminent degree, a knowledge of aerial perspective. This is perceptible in the manner in which the back ground of the picture advances, although the distant objects are touched with considerable judgment.