a journey through neapolitan still life of the 17th century
a journey through neapolitan still life of the 17th century
Catalogue by Véronique Damian We warmly thank the following for their assistance: Mercedes Águeda Villar, Bruno Arciprete, Gioacchino Barbera, Roberta Bartoli, Ken Berri, Paolo Bertuzzi, Duncan Bull, Frank Dabell, Giuseppe De Vito, Dario Disegni, Elena Fumagalli, Arturo Galansino, Gian Antonio Garzilli, Francesco Giovanetti, Mina Gregori, Riccardo Lattuada, Mario Lazzari, Vito Librando, Stéphane Loire, Alberto Marchesin, Franco Paliaga, Almudena Perez de Tudela Gabaldón, Maria Silvia Proni, Habiba Taïbi, Paola Renna, Paolo Rosa, Nicola Spinosa, Bonaccorso Vitale Brovarone, Marco Voena. Graphic design: François Junot. Reproduction and printing: Imprimerie Blanchard – September 2007
© Galerie Canesso, 2007 ISBN 978-2-9529848-1-2 EAN 9782952984812
Ambasciata d’ Italia Parigi
Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Napoletano
a journey through neapolitan still life of the 17th century Paris, Galerie Canesso, 26 September – 27 October 2007 The exhibition is under the Patronage of the Embassy of Italy to Paris, and of the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Napoletano
A potential collection
“Natura in posa” in seventeenth-century Naples: progress and setbacks in research
Some reflections on Neapolitan Still Life in the first decades of the seventeenth century
pierluigi leone de castris
Creatures of the waves, and of the mind: the figurative qualities of Neapolitan marine life
filippo maria ferro
Neapolitan still life: new demands on the sense of sight
32 34 46 61 64 68 76 80 104 106 118 130
Giacomo Coppola (cat. 1) Giovan Battista Recco (cat. 2-6) Paolo Porpora (cat. 7-12) Paolo Cattamara (cat. 13) Giovanni Quinsa (cat. 14) Luca Forte (cat. 15-17) Master S.B. (cat. 18) Giuseppe Recco (cat. 19-29) Giuseppe Recco / Francesco Solimena (cat. 30) Giovan Battista Ruoppolo (cat. 31-35) Giuseppe Ruoppolo (cat. 36-40) Andrea Belvedere (cat. 41)
A potential collection maurizio canesso Presenting this exhibition of Neapolitan seventeenth-century still life paintings not only provides an excellent occasion for opening our gallery to collectors, scholars, and art lovers – it also means revisiting some of our business history. Of these fifty paintings, twenty-five have passed through our hands and have been exhibited here, and – together with others from public and private collections – constitute a coherent group. We hope they may interest specialists as well as provide stimulation and revelation for those who are as yet unfamiliar with Old Master paintings and how fascinating they can be even when displayed out of context. This group reflects our taste, our criteria for selection, and our eye for the quality and conservation of the works themselves. Notwithstanding its commercial nature, the spirit behind L’Œil Gourmand should not be understood exclusively thus, since none of the works exhibited are for sale. Rather, our aim is to show that among the various genres and numerous options available in today’s art market, it is still possible to create a prestigious collection composed of absolutely outstanding pieces, important as much for their history as for their quality. It is here that the dealer’s profession comes into its own – identifying paintings, selecting them, keeping them in stock, and opening the door to them for future collectors. I should like to thank those who have worked with us, whether directly or indirectly, and in particular Nicola Spinosa, Soprintendente per il Polo Museale Napoletano, who promptly and enthusiastically endorsed the concept of the exhibition and suggested directions for research; H. E. Ludovico Ortona, Ambassador of Italy in Paris, who had no hesitation in supporting the project; the lenders, Professor Giovanni Bazoli, Presidente del Consiglio di Sorveglianza Intesa Sanpaolo, for the paintings formerly owned by the Banco di Napoli, Vittorio Di Capua, Piero Cei, and all those who have wished to remain anonymous. Many of them have identified themselves with this initiative, and will recognise in the criteria we have adopted the same principles they used in their acquisitions. Finally, I should like to express my deep gratitude to Véronique Damian, who has coordinated the exhibition and edited this catalogue.
“Natura in posa” in seventeenth-century Naples: progress and setbacks in research nicola spinosa
Soprintendente per il Polo Museale Napoletano
For decades scholars have given prominence to still life – although calling it “natura in posa” would be better than “natura morta” – as it developed in Naples in the seventeenth century. The substantial achievements of Neapolitan still life painters as they evolved between naturalistic and Baroque trends began to be recognized in the early 1950s; at the same time scholars began to increase their knowledge of other painters active in Naples during the Seicento, ranging from Gio van Battista Caracciolo and Carlo Sellitto to Aniello Falcone, Bernardo Cavallino, and Domenico Gargiulo, and from Massimo Stanzione and Andrea Vaccaro to Luca Giordano and Francesco Solimena. Further recognition came with subsequent scholarly discoveries, above all through an extended series of exhibitions on this subject, mostly organised in recent years. Yet the situation has become more difficult, due in part to this very research. The complex evolution of the genre and its manifestation in Naples throughout the seventeenth century – independently of current trends in other Italian and foreign cities – now appears to be even more intricate and in some ways even more confused than it seemed when modern studies began, spurred on by the celebrated exhibition on Italian still life presented in 1964-1965 in Naples, Zurich, and Rotterdam. Approximative knowledge and confused scholarship were also evident in the subsequent exhibition held in the Museo Pignatelli in Naples in 1984-1985, exclusively dedicated to the still life genre in the Neapolitan area, and in the more recent, almost oversized display of Italian still life organised by Mina Gregori in Munich and Florence in 2002 and 2003; the latter exhibition was able to take advantage of the contributions to the Neapolitan theme contained in the extensive volumes on still life edited by Federico Zeri and published in 1989, as well as other recent research, mostly by Giuseppe De Vito. Our present-day knowledge of Neapolitan still life between the ages of Naturalism and the Baroque is affected
by some of the limitations inherent in the most recent studies and the exhibitions held since 1984. It is true that the numerous and continuous contributions by De Vito and those of a handful of other authors have allowed us to gain a better understanding of some of the protagonists of this genre in early and mid-seventeenth century Naples (Luca Forte, Giuseppe Recco, Paolo Porpora, and a few others) – not least because previously unpublished or scarcely known works have been brought to light. But as in the past these contributions are based almost exclusively on the sometimes unconvincing (if not completely unreliable) results of analyses carried out through stylistic comparison between anonymous or variously attributed paintings and works that are signed and often well-known, with opinions occasionally dictated by personal or commercial concerns. It is a known fact, however, that using stylistic analysis alone – even when completely up to date and sometimes highly effectively, but without the necessary care – can risk creating far-fetched hypotheses and at best approximate solutions, especially in the field of still life in general, and that of Neapolitan painting in particular. This happens not only with the genre artists of whom we know only the names, such as Ambrosiello Faro (or Russo), Angelo or Antonio Mariano, Angelo Turcofella (or correctly, Carlo Turcopella, as he is cited in documents) and many others, their names sometimes wrongly reported even in recent years because the citations come from miscellaneous sources, the odd archival document, or estate inventories of early collections; it is also true of works by painters whom we know through a substantial nucleus of signed and often dated or securely datable paintings. Among other examples we may cite Luca Forte (fig. 1), among the best-known protagonists of the first period of Neapolitan still life. His early oeuvre has only recently and convincingly been identified by Pierluigi Leone de Castris, who has connected it with the activity of Giacomo Coppola, at last identified as the author of the still
Fig. 1 — Luca Forte, Still Life with Fruit and Flowers, Marano di Castenaso, Molinari Pradelli collection.
life in the Museum of Gallipoli, exhibited here (cat. no. 1), which de Castris places early on, in the mid-1610s, at the dawn of the genre in the Neapolitan area, and at the centre of the complex network of artistic relationships that developed between Rome and Naples in those years. A natural consequence of this situation is that approximation, vagueness and no small confusion are even more evident, also as the result of a solely style-based approach when dealing with the genre painters by whom only very few pictures have completely undisputable attributions, or when the identity of the artist is totally unknown. A notable case is that of a painter who remains anonymous to this day, yet who was responsible for one of the greatest achievements of the first period of still life in Naples – the well-known composition of flowers, fruits and vegetables currently attributed to the so-called “Maestro di Palazzo San Gervasio”, whose name derives from the small town in the province of Potenza where the painting is housed. It has received many and varied attributions because of the confusion surrounding the beginning of the still life era in Naples. Among the proposed authors are Andrea Belvedere, Paolo Porpora, Luca Forte (in my opinion still the most convincing hypothesis), Aniello Falcone, and even the Roman artist Giovan Battista Crescenzi. A similar case is that of Giacomo Recco, among the pioneers of Neapolitan still life according to early sources, and one of the first members of a well-known family of Neapolitan genre painters – possibly the brother of Giovan Battista, and certainly the father of Giuseppe and teacher of Paolo Porpora. Giacomo has long been the subject of modern scholarship, but after the recent exclusion from his small oeuvre of a series of Vases with Grotesque Decoration and Flowers (attributed to him for reasons that do not appear to be completely valid), he seems now to be identifiable only through a Still Life with Child on wood panel (fig. 2; whereabouts unknown) published in 1988 by De Vito because the back of the canvas bears his presumed signature and that of Artemisia Gentileschi, who was responsible for
the figure. De Vito also compared this with a nucleus of paintings of fish, game and flower vases (the latter mostly in the Castello Ursino, Catania) which he believed showed stylistic affinities and parallels with the ceramic vase and flowers inserted in the Annunciation signed by Massimo Stanzione (datable to the beginning of the 1640s and now displayed in the Florentine church of S. Stefano al Ponte), believed by De Vito to be by the oldest member of the Recco family. The obvious consequence of this debate is that very little or nothing is known of Giacomo for certain. This has a bearing on how we perceive the problematic beginnings of his best-known pupil, Paolo Porpora, who received his apprenticeship in the workshop of Giacomo Recco while still very young and was hitherto known mainly for his mature compositions, in a period coinciding with or even later than his Roman sojourn of the 1650s, and characterized by refined, richly coloured depictions of sottoboschi (forest floors) and exuberantly Baroque floral compositions. However, in 1999 De Vito used exclusively stylistic considerations to attribute to the young Porpora a substantial group of still lifes with fish, molluscs, seafood, and the occasional tortoise. In some cases these still reflect an evident naturalism, and are datable to about 1640 or immediately thereafter, when Porpora had freed himself from dependance on Giacomo and had moved (possibly in the mid-1630s) to the much-frequented workshop of Aniello Falcone. At this point it is natural to express some doubt and ask certain questions: if nothing is known of Giacomo Recco as a painter of still lifes with different types of fish, as suggested by various sources and documents, how far may we extend the hypothesis of assigning to the younger Porpora all paintings with this type of marine composition, now attributed to him by De Vito, without considering that at least some of them, especially those with a more naturalistic imprint, could instead have been painted by his teacher? Furthermore, as regards the many Forest Floors now attributed to Paolo Porpora, how many were really painted by his hand, and which can instead be attributed to the less known and rarer Paolo Cattamara, by whom very few paintings have been identified with certainty? No less perplexing is the similarly problematic identification of another Neapolitan genre painter of this early
Fig. 2 — Giacomo Recco (?) – Artemisia Gentileschi (?), Still Life with Child, whereabouts unknown.
Fig. 3 — Giovan Battista Recco, Still Life with Goat’s Head, Naples, Capodimonte Museum.
period: Giovan Battista Recco, mentioned in early inventories as “Titta Recco” and as author mainly of kitchen interiors and pantry scenes. He was probably the brother of Giacomo and uncle of Giuseppe, and only two still life paintings serve to identify him, each clearly signed in full and dated respectively 1653 (Mendola collection, Catania; exhibited here, cat. no. 5) and 1654 (Rappini collection). Other compositions have been attributed to him through either their stylistic similarities with the two works just mentioned or the presence of the letters “GBR”, which however could at least in some cases refer to the later genre painter Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, also mentioned early on as the author of compositions with pantries and kitchen interiors. This is another puzzle that is hard to solve, also because of the connection hypothesised (further complicating the issue, and not based on firm data) between Giovan Battista Recco – an artist whose identity still appears based on a strong naturalistic style, given the evidence of his two signed still lifes – and the Spanish still lifes and bodegones of Alejandro Loarte, Juan van der Hamen, Juan Francisco de Zurbarán, and even of the young Velázquez in Seville, a connection that could have been established by means of direct awareness or by the mediation of the genre painter Giovanni Quinsa, probably of Spanish origin and active in Naples at the beginning of the seventeenth century. All
these hypotheses overlook the fact that Jusepe de Ribera had been in Naples since 1616. In his works painted before his permanent move from Rome to the Viceregal capital, or even for a long period thereafter, a large number of depictions of natura in posa are present in both his sacred and secular compositions. Such works have an extraordinary visual intensity and pictorial qualities of a clearly naturalistic kind, and constitute a precise and exemplary model for the first Neapolitan genre painters and their individual development after about 1630; this influenced Giacomo Recco, Luca Forte and Giovan Battista himself, and even touched the younger Giuseppe Recco, some of whose pictures have been attributed to the hand of the Spanish master. To ensure a positive identification of paintings by Giovan Battista Recco we must also recognise that apart from some recent progress we are still in a phase of approximative knowledge, almost exclusively based on the rather unconvincing results of stylistic analyses and comparisons. Confirmation of this state of affairs comes from two extraordinary examples of the genre in the Capodimonte Museum: both display a pronounced naturalism and powerful pictorial intensity as well as an evident similarity of subject matter, yet fluctuate when it comes to authorship. These Kitchen Interiors with Goat’s Head (figs. 3, 4) have been attributed together or separately by modern scholars to either Giovan Battista or Giuseppe Recco, in spite of the fact that they are evidently different and vary in the quality of lighting, colour and representation of reality, thus indicating different dates of execution.
Our earlier mention of Ribera’s presence in Naples after 1616 leaves room for further considerations of some importance, already repeatedly expressed, so as to provide a more extensive and careful assessment of the beginnings and subsequent evolution of the genre, above all with reference to the contemporary activity – whether sacred or profane – of pittori di figure and di storia. I shall note here that before settling in Naples Ribera may well have sent paintings there at the request of Neapolitan or Spanish patrons residing there, and that these depictions – containing the vividly naturalistic passages one sees in his personifications of the Senses or in the austere portrayals of Apostles or Ancient Philosophers – could date from his youthful, successful Roman sojourn, documented in 1612 but which may have started even prior to his short period of activity in Parma between 1610 and 1611. I do not want to reiterate the need for wide-ranging research and detailed investigation of the organisation and distribution of work in artists’ workshops in seventeenthcentury Naples – workshops that were in some cases true business enterprises with a varied and sizeable output, and with different specialists directed or coordinated by a single master who was the entrepreneur and organiser, as in the case of Giovan Bernardo Azzolino – a shop most likely inherited by his son-in-law Jusepe de Ribera – of Aniello Falcone, or (later on) of Luca Giordano and Francesco Solimena. Nor do I wish to repeat an invitation to extend the investigation of how Neapolitan genre painters related to local and foreign patrons, also because the study of these patrons and collectors, while still based on little more than archival documents and estate inventories, has nonetheless achieved some progress. In the field of still life, and after the now distant insights of Ulisse Prota-Giurleo, this progress is due to the research and extensive writings of Edoardo Nappi, Renato Ruotolo, Gérard Labrot, and Pierluigi Leone de Castris. Rather, I should like to underline once again that during the early and developing years of still life painting in Naples, and alongside the artists who specialised only in genre pictures, there existed a number of history and figure painters who painted true still lifes – some quite extensively, others on a limited basis – although unfortunately they are almost exclusively documented only through early sources, archival documents, or inventories. Such artists include (in the early seventeenth century) Carlo Sellitto, Filippo Napoletano, Battistello Caracciolo, Aniello Falcone, and Andrea de Lione; they and other painters often inserted notable depictions of natura in posa in their sacred or secular subjects. Modern and contemporary scholarship has tended to attribute these depictions to specialists, who were invited from time to time to collaborate (as they did with landscape painters and quadraturisti) by incorporating their work into the more complex and prestigious compositions by authors of figurative compositions. These passages of still life appear beside Biblical heroines or martyred saints, ecstatic or annunciate Virgins, mythical ancient characters or virtuous and epic protagonists of modern chivalric poetry: they include precious objects, or domestic, mundane ones, copper pots or maiolica dishes,
Fig. 4 — Giuseppe Recco, Still Life with Goat’s Head, Naples, Capodimonte Museum.
finely worked glass and crystal, books and parchment worn by frequent reading, pages of sacred or secular music – or flowers and fruit, fish and vegetables, birds and animals of every species, all presented in bella mostra and painted dal vero, and transferred to canvas with a true reflection of their different forms, textures, surfaces, light, and colour. Sometimes, especially in the second part of the seventeenth century, they are also arranged in extraordinary and fanciful groupings, with spectacular theatrical effects, according to the sumptuous and enthralling style of the magnificent Baroque age, for the sheer pleasure of the eyes and to unleash the fertile imagination of the heart and mind. More rarely, at least in Naples, they were painted in order to suggest erudite and hidden symbolism and allegory in more or less evident ways, with edifying, moralizing, didactic, or celebratory intent.
Fig. 5 — Giuseppe Recco, Still Life with Piglet, London, Trafalgar Galleries.
Fig. 6 — Jusepe de Ribera, The Departure of Jacob, Madrid, Museo del Prado.
Among these appreciated, celebrated, and well-remunerated history and figure painters (beyond the well-known instance of Aniello Falcone and his crowded workshop), one example of great importance for the start and subsequent development of the Neapolitan still life is Ribera. As mentioned above, starting in the early years of his career in Rome and up to his advanced maturity, he inserted extraordinary passages of natura in posa in both religious and non-religious compositions, without making use of the collaboration of genre painters. These depictions also reflect the changes in his stylistic evolution, from the energetically naturalistic beginnings to the more pictorial and neo-Venetian style of the mid-1630s, and it is not hard to imagine that they became valuable examples for Neapolitan still life painters, certainly from the early 1630s, if not earlier. Moreover, since the recognition of the two extraordinary sunny, Mediterranean landscapes in the collection of the Duchess of Alba, painted by Ribera in 1639, it has been possible to ascertain two points: not only that the Spanish painter was one of the most noteworthy landscape artists active in Naples in the second quarter of the seventeenth century (although to understand this it would have been sufficient to consider the magnificent landscapes in many of his compositions from the mid-1620s onwards), but also that his activity as a specialist had a significant influence on the directions taken by local painters like Domenico Gargiulo or the young Salvator Rosa. Apart from Ribera, and as regards the inclusion of still life elements in Biblical scenes or personifications of the Senses and wise men and philosophers of antiquity, an important role was also played by the artist known as Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds (whether he is Bartolomeo Passante, mentioned in various sources and estate inventories, or, as recently proposed, the Valencian Juan Do, active in Naples since the beginning of the 1620s); and the same may be said, with less emphasis, of Massimo
Stanzione, Bernardo Cavallino and Giovan Battista Spinelli. These and many others were painters who had different training and stylistic inclinations, but were all authors of both sacred and secular compositions which often included prominent depictions of still life, for which the critics have always considered the presence and the collaboration of single specialists: Giacomo Recco, Paolo Porpora, Giovan Battista or Giuseppe Recco. This could certainly have happened, at least in some rare cases; however, why exclude the possibility that the artists we have mentioned would not themselves be capable of painting not only the various objects that occur in their larger compositions but also autonomous and no less notable examples of natura in posa? It is certainly meaningful, for example, that a Still Life with Piglet initialled “GR” (fig. 5; Trafalgar Galleries, London) has been attributed – entirely inappropriately, or perhaps provocatively? – to Ribera, whereas it is undoubtedly by Giuseppe Recco, who like his presumed uncle Giovan Battista and perhaps the young Paolo Porpora (I dare not stretch the hypothesis further by suggesting Luca Forte), was probably well aware of the passages of still life in the Spaniard’s work, and in particular in the Departure of Jacob of 1637 (fig. 6; Madrid, Prado). Likewise, Giuseppe Recco and his fellow genre painters of the early Seicento must have known other such compositions by Ribera from the 1620s, or by the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds, inlcuding the latter’s Velázquez-inspired Painter’s Studio (fig 7; Madrid, private collection), with one of the most extraordinary passages of still life in Naples dating from no later than the mid-1630s. The collaboration of genre painters such as Giuseppe Recco, Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, Abraham Brueghel and Andrea Belvedere – as is well documented – must be acknowledged in at least some compositions by Luca Giordano and Francesco Solimena, who, in any case – I am sure – certainly had the skills to paint both figure scenes and magnifi-
cent and independent depictions of natura in posa. So why should we not aim for a more detailed study of the roles and patterns adopted by painters in Naples – at least within the initial evolution of Neapolitan still life, and beyond the examples set by the Master of the Acquavella still life or Angelo Caroselli (as some have suggested)? What parts were played by painters such as the rediscovered Giacomo Coppola, Luca Forte, Sellitto, or Falcone, but also by masters of figure paintings such as Battistello, Ribera, the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds, Massimo Stanzione, or Bernardo Cavallino? I am certain that positive results and surprises would not be lacking if research were aimed in the right direction. Consequently, in the light of what I have stated in this essay and with the detailed historical profile of Neapolitan still life, especially for the first half of the Seicento, provided here by Pierluigi Leone de Castris and the authors of the cata logue entries for this exhibition, my contribution can only be an invitation and exhortation. Within reasonable limits, we should expand rather than re-evaluate what scholars have provided thus far, so as to achieve a greater knowledge of the tightly-packed chapter in the history of art offered by genre painting in seventeenth-century Naples. In this sense this exhibition presented by the Galerie Canesso constitutes a notable contribution for future studies, thanks to the presence of many unpublished paintings, works long hidden from view, many of them signed and even dated, together with a similar number of already known compositions with convincing attributions, which will surely add further fuel to scholarly discussion. One yearns for the day when it might be possible to organise a wider display of Neapolitan still lifes of the seventeenth century (and – why not? – those painted in the early eighteenth), all signed and dated or authentically documented, beside which the legion of debated, uncertain works could finally find some elements of irrefutable certainty.
Fig. 7 — Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds, The Painter’s Studio, Madrid, private collection.
It is also with this aim in mind that the Soprintendenza per il Polo Museale Napoletano and the Museo di Capodi monte, which houses one of the most important group of genre paintings, has decided to sponsor and assist this exhi bition by the Galerie Canesso. We are confident that this will favour the need to expand our knowledge and allow for a renewal of the scholarly debate which up till now has been conducted more through documentation and photographs rather than direct examination of the works and on concrete comparisons between them. Certainly many issues will remain open. However, if all doubts and questions posed by the beginnings of Neapolitan still life and its development, like those of any other chapter or period of history, art, or culture, could be solved by scholarly papers and one or more exhibitions on the subject, what future, and also what present, would unfold for our progress and growth, and that of society at large?
Some reflections on Neapolitan Still Life in the first decades of the seventeenth century pierluigi leone de castris
The origins and first steps of Neapolitan still life have always prompted fascination and interest in scholars of genre painting, perhaps in part because of a certain air of mystery and the almost complete lack of information regarding the crucial years between 1610 and 1630. Certainly the most felicitous period, in which still life painting began to be truly appreciated in Naples, began in the 1640s and 1650s, complementing new trends in interior design and decoration in the palaces of the Southern Baroque, as documented in the inventories of the great collections of that period. Indeed it was in the houses of such collectors as Peppe Carafa, Gaspar Roomer, and Ferrante Spinelli that for the first time artists of this “genere minore”(lesser but by now clearly successful), acquire character and name; while inventories of earlier collections – Filomarino della Rocca (1634), Partenio Petagna, Onofrio de Anfora (1644) – only ever list the rare still life compositions hanging on the walls as works by unknown artists.1 Reading inventories appended to wills, we learn that the collection of Giuseppe Carafa (younger brother of the Duke of Maddaloni and beheaded by the rebel followers of Masaniello in July 1647) included about forty still life compositions. Among these were two by Luca Forte (c. 1605-1656), two of “cetrangoli e limoncelle”(citrus fruit) by Giacomo Recco (c. 1603-1653), seven representing fruit by “Ambrosiello”, four with flowers by the otherwise unknown Nardiello, three of “frutti grandi” (two by a certain “Ursolupo” and one by “Pauluccio”, possibly either Porpora or Cattamara), and another twelve with animals, six of which are specifically mentioned as having been painted by a certain “Pietro Fiammingo” who in the same inven. For collection inventories see Labrot, 1992, passim. The concept and
tory is shown to have worked with Pacecco De Rosa on an Orpheus. In the collection of Ferrante Spinelli prince of Tarsia, who died in 1654 and whose palace outside the Porta Reale housed one of the first and largest Southern Italian galleries, a similar inventory lists no less than fifty-one still lifes. Among these are eighteen flowers or fruit pictures by Forte – plus a canvas with “figure che sonano, et cantano con frutti” (people playing and singing with fruit) by Forte and Aniello Falcone, two small works “con piccioni” (pigeons) and “con pollastre e fichi” (poultry and figs) by Filippo Napoletano, four “con frutta e fiori” by Titta Recco, one “con un pezzo di carne con una testa di agnello, gallina, et altre cose” (“with a piece of meat with a lamb’s head, a hen and other things”) by Ambrosiello, one “con una gatta, et un cane” (with a female cat and a dog) by “Guglielmo Fiammingo”, one with fruit by “Giovanni Antonio”, and ten works composed by an uncertain artist, with fish, flowers and animals, adding to ten works of the mysterious “Pietro Fiammingo” mentioned above, whose wide and interesting repertoire ranged from “fiori e frutti” to fish and crustaceans, chicken, foxes, parrots, dogs, goats, boars, hares, and a variety of other animals. Finally, the collection of the rich merchant and collector Gaspar Roomer, at the time of his death in 1674, numbered one hundred and twenty still life compositions, at least six of which – before 1630 – were said by Capaccio to be by a certain “Gerardo Vanden Bos Fiamengo”, probably the same as “Gherardo di Bosco” or Gerrit van den Bosch who in 1619 was paid by the Medici in Florence for “tre paesi grandi […] entrovi diversi animali” (three large landscapes…with various animals), housed to this day in the depositi of the Florentine Galleries.2 According to archival and literary sources the following artists, well known and less so, would therefore be
opening of this essay are based on Leone de Castris, 2005, to which the reader may also refer for bibliographic and archival references regarding
. See Capaccio, 1630, pp. 863-864; Ruotolo, 1982; Fumagalli, in Rome,
the topics developed here.
1995, pp. 69-72.
the local or foreign protagonists of genre painting in urban aristocratic collections around the middle of the century: Luca Forte, Giacomo Recco, Filippo de Llaño, Giovan Battista Recco, “Pauluccio napoletano”, “Ambrosiello” and “Giovanni Antonio” – perhaps the “Ambrosiello Faro” and “Antonio Mariano” mentioned in about 1667 by Tutini together with Luca Forte and Giacomo Recco among the painters “celebri assai […] in pinger poi fiori e frutti dal naturali” (“much celebrated… for painting flowers and fruits from nature”) – as well as the aforementioned Gerrit van den Bosch and the completely unknown Ursolupo, Nardiello, and Bernardo, and Guglielmo and Pietro “fiamminghi”. But to create a truer picture of the production of still life in Naples in the first half of the seventeenth century, we must at least add the names of the Spaniard Giovanni Quinsa, who signed and dated two paintings of fruit and flowers (1641 and 1642), and the presumably foreign Pietro Dous, documented in 1639 as author of floral compositions, and – as I attempted to highlight in greater depth in my essay of 2005 – a further four earlier Neapolitans, Giacomo Coppola, Carlo Turcopella, Vincenzo Venturino and Ambrosiello Russo, mentioned in archival documents, respectively, as authors of “verdure” (vegetables), flowers, hunts, and animals in 1610, 1620, 1628, and 1627. The first of these can be identified, in my opinion, with the mysterious artist who signed the large and remarakble Still Life in the Museo Civico, Gallipoli with the monogram “G.C.”; the second is most probably the same as the “Ambrosiello” mentioned in inventories and who was given the surname “Faro” only by Tutini and subsequent scholars. From this network of names and dates it seems possible to understand the relatively early start of the still life genre in Naples, as well as the presence there, especially during the first years, of Flemish artists, whose time in Rome was later maligned in Salvator Rosa’s Satire: they were branded as a nuisance, mediocre, and lacking in “studio, o diligenza. […] E son le scuole loro le mandre, e stalle, E consumano in far, l’etadi intere, Biscie, Rospi, Lucertole e Farfalle” (“training or diligence… Their schools are the herds and stables, and they spend whole summers painting snakes, toads, lizards, and butterflies”). Nevertheless, at least since the 1570s, Naples had hosted a true colony of Flemish painters, some as permanent residents, others as temporary visitors. Their most typical work consisted of genre pictures: views, scenes of withcraft, and above all landscapes – perhaps the most popular genre among local collectors of the late Cinquecento and early Seicento – painted either by specialists in this field such as Bril, Swanenburgh, van Aelst or Stinemolen, or by more flexible artists who worked in fresco and even devotional painting, such as Pietro Mennens or Loise Croys.3 As regards the relationship between these oltremontani who had immigrated to Naples and the still life genre, it is worth recalling some specific instances: it seems likely that flowers were the subject of paintings on copper
for a clock documented as having been made in 1590 by Jan Brueghel for the abbot Francesco Caracciolo. Shortly thereafter, in the first years of the new century, we know that a certain Bartolomeo Ghesenz was painting some “cacce di fiandra” (“Flanders hunting scenes”) between 1606 and 1613, and that Croys and Jan Snyers, another “immigrato”, were asked respectively in 1613 and 1604, to compose devotional paintings, landscapes, or subjects from ancient history, as well as images of the Seasons; not to mention the fact that Croys’ son-in-law François de Nomé, a painter from Lorraine who specialised in views and ruins, left Rome for Naples in 1610 and would soon assert himself as the author of Vanitas pictures. However, I personally believe that the role of Flemish artists in this area and period was more significant for their widespread affirmation of the genre and creation of a taste for this kind of painting within Naples than for the formation of a lasting language that could influence new generations of local painters – in spite of the fact that, as we have seen, hunting scenes remained a Flemish prerogative for several decades. Between 1607 and 1610, and clearly reflecting a penchant for Caravaggio-style naturalism in this field, the first depictions of flowers and fruit begin to appear in the Immaculate Conception in Santa Maria della Stella and in the Virgin with Child and Young Baptist in the Museo di San Martino. These were painted by the young Battistello Caracciolo (1578-1635), an artist who appears in the inventories of the collections of Gaspare San Giovanni Toffetti (1651) and Davide Imperiale (1672) as the author of “un putto à dormire, con molti fiori attorno” (a little boy sleeping, surrounded by many flowers) and a composition with “frutti, et altro” (fruit and other things). The same can be said of the wonderful grape bower in the Bacchus in the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, attributed – I believe correctly – to Carlo Sellitto (1581-1614), who also painted the still lifes with fruit, fish and other animals listed in the “Lista delli quadri de bascio” left in his workshop when he died, or commissioned from him and paid posthumously in 1615 by Orazio di Falco and Matteo Geronimo Mazza.4 Sellitto was also a pupil of the Flemish artist Croys, whose daughter Claudia was his fiancée, and he was an intimate member of Croys’ circle until his death. Between 1605 and about 1614 other artists were in turn pupils or collaborators of Sellitto, including Filippo de Llaño, mentioned above and better known as Filippo Napoletano (1587-c. 1629), who worked in Naples between 1610 and 1614 mainly painting landscapes, but also – in Florence, from 1617 – citrons and other fruits. Filippo’s “scientific” naturalism cannot be explained solely by his acquaintance with the the Neapolitan circle of Croys and other Flemish or foreign painters such as Jacob Thoma and François de Nomé. Another example is the figure painter Filippo Vitale (c.1585-1650), also a true follower of Caravaggio from the beginning, who some years later, in 1639, gave his daughter in marriage to Aniello Falcone (1607-1656) and who
. For the Flemish colony in Naples see the summary by Leone de Castris, 1991, pp. 21-106, with references to literature and documents.
4. Bologna, in Naples, 1977, pp. 76-78; and Santucci, therein, pp. 94-97.
Fig. 1 — Luca Forte (?), Still Life with Birds, Turin, Galleria Sabauda.
as early as 1631 presented the genre painter Luca Forte as his witness in a legal document. We have already had the occasion to mention the partnership of Falcone and Forte when speaking of the collection of Ferrante Spinelli, and we shall return to them later. It is not easy to establish whether the late works of Caravaggio, who sojourned in Naples between 1606 and 1610 – so raw and essential, and lacking descriptions of flowers, fruits or similar objects, at least in those pictures known to us – could have had any role in directing genre painting in Naples towards a truly naturalist and Caravag gesque style between the first and the second decade of the seventeenth century. However, some of his original compositions (or copies) from an earlier period and at least partially representing still life, could have arrived in Naples from Rome during these years; the inventories of the collections of Pompeo d’Anna in 1676, of Giacomo Capece Zurlo in 1715, and of Giovanna d’Aragona Pignatelli in 1723, mention for example “un quadro di frutti e fiori” and two “di frutti” attributed to his hand. Better still, a decisive role may have been played by the possible (and sometimes documented) academic excursions made by Neapolitan artists to Rome – or indeed by an influence running in the opposite direction, with the early presence in Naples of Roman Caravaggesque paintings, or even painters – but always along what I believe was a fundamental axis between the two cities. In this respect it may be worth recalling the documented contact in 1615 between the Southern painter Giovan Bernardino Azzolino and the Marchese Giovan Battista Crescenzi, a still life painter who was soon to be converted to the style of Caravaggio. During the early 1610s, and before leaving for Spain in 1617, Crescenzi set up an Academy in Rome teaching young artists to portray objects from nature. The sojourn in Naples from 1613 to 1618 of another naturalist, Angelo Caroselli, was previously only hypothesized but is now certain and also significant. Caroselli was paid on the 15 November 1616 for the Madonna dell’Arco
Crowned by Two Angels, with Saint Onuphrius and Saint Catherine Marrying the Christ Child below, “con paese inclusovi” (“with a landscape included”), a work commissioned by the notary Giuliano Nepeta for his chapel in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Barra. Sometime later the Fusco and Capecelatro collections included his Saint Francis with Saint Dominic and Herodias with the Head of John the Baptist, and one wonders how much they may have evoked Caravaggio’s treatments of these subjects. Finally, the possible presence in Naples of Bartolomeo Cavarozzi, probably before his departure for Spain following Crescenzi in late 1617, is also important. This mayhave been in about 1615, considering the influences then visible in the early development of another Southern painter, Paolo Finoglio (c. 1590-1645). Alongside Crescenzi and Caroselli, a further “complementary” presence is decisive in this context – that of the great and still anonymous Master of the Acquavella Still Life, author (with Cavarozzi, who painted the figures) of the The Lament of Aminta, acquired in 1615 by Juan de Tassis, Count of Villamediana, as by Caravaggio. This painter has been identified as Luca Forte, Crescenzi, Caroselli, or Cavarozzi himself by Stefano Bottari, Carlo Volpe, Ferdinando Bologna, Mina Gregori, and Gianni Papi, and he is the true intellectual heir of Caravaggio as regards genre painting in the period around 1610-1615.5 In my opinion, this was the path – originating with Caravaggio and Rome – that was enthusiastically followed in Naples before 1614 by Carlo Sellitto in the Bacchus in Frankfurt, and shortly thereafter, in the years around 1620, by Giacomo Coppola in the canvas in Gallipoli, mentioned above. The same direction was also taken during the 1620s (perhaps involving unexplored connections with Juan van der Hamen and Alejandro de Loarte) by the young Luca Forte, who was probably born around 1605, in his earliest still lifes in the Galleria Sabauda, Turin (fig. 1), the Galleria Corsini in Rome, the Museum of Pontevedra, the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, and in some private collections (fig. 2 and cat. no. 16). Luca Forte is undoubtedly the central figure for the development of genre paintings in Naples in the first half of the century, since the identity of Giacomo Recco, the other highly praised artist of that time, remains uncertain. Securely datable works by Forte are all quite late, between the 1640s and 1650s – the Still Life for Peppe Carafa now in Sarasota, dated to about 1647, the Vase of Flowers dated 1649, recently published by De Vito (2006), and the two small paintings on copper with Bowls of Grapes formerly on the London art market, probably identifiable with those paid for in 1656 by the Duke of Maddaloni. The fact that he belonged to what Ulisse Prota-Giurleo (1951) called a “complesso familiare di artisti napoletani” (family network of Neapolitan artists) active as figure painters, makes a most appropriate connection with our second reflection about the collaboration of specialists in figures and still life within the same work; but this is also relevant for instances 5. Leone de Castris, 2005, pp. 78-80, with earlier literature.
Fig. 2 — Luca Forte, Still Life with fruits, private collection.
of history painters depicting flowers, fish, and fruit, or even composing true, independent still lifes. The greatest of the Neapolitan followers of Caravaggio, Battistello Caracciolo, took it upon himself to include large, significant passages of still life in some of his religious works for both public and private devotion, from about 1607 and extending to his mature years, as in the Volponi Lot and his Daughters. The same could be said also of the main representative of the secondo naturalismo in Naples, the Spaniard Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652), from the time of his earliest Roman works of the 1610s, such as the celebrated Five Senses, to his Neapolitan paintings , such as the Sense of Smell (Oslo, Nasjonalgalleriet) and the Allegory of Winter (Florence, private collection). This was still true later on in the work of the even more mysterious painter known as “Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds”, who used the same raw impasto to convey the bruised, naked bodies of saints or shepherds, the fleece of sheep, the white of flower petals, sheets of paper or parchment, and the cold reflections of light on chains, skulls, marble surfaces, and backs of musical instruments.6 The issue is more complex for other local artists. The figure painter Carlo Sellitto, as we have seen, was working on independent still lifes before 1614, and others were painted some years later by his pupil, the landscape painter Filippo Napoletano. As regards the other pupil frequenting Sellitto’s workshop, Filippo Vitale (who as we have said was in close contact with the principal local genre painter Luca Forte
in 1631), we should recall that in 1612, the godfather and godmother of his son Carlo were Sellitto himself and the mother of the very young Andrea Vaccaro (1604-1670). In that same year, 1612, Vitale adopted the children of his wife Caterina De Mauro’s first marriage, who became the painters Pacecco (1607-1656) and Annella De Rosa (1602-1643); later, in 1626, he gave Annella and her sister Maria Grazia in marriage to two artists, Agostino Beltrano (1607-1656) and Juan Do (1604-1656); and in 1639 he gave his daughter Orsola’s hand to another painter, Aniello Falcone – thus constituting a true “complesso familiare” of artists, held together by relatives, friends, and collaborators. De Dominici stated that Vitale’s stepson Pacecco (initially his partner) and Annella herself, her husband Agostino Beltrano and Andrea Vaccaro would all in turn attend the important and well-established workshop of Massimo Stanzione (1585-c. 1656) during the 1620s and 1630s. Early sources tell us that others of the same generation, including Paolo Finoglio, Giuseppe Marullo (c. 1605-1685), Francesco Guarino (1611-1654), Antonio De Bellis (c. 1610-1660), Giovan Battista Spinelli (c. 1613-1657), and Bernardo Cavallino (c. 1616-1656), also attended this shop. For his part, Aniello Falcone founded an academy for study “dal naturale” in the 1630s, successfully trained battle painters, and in the late 1640s founded an anti-Spanish association called “della morte”, whose members appear to have included his “pupils” Domenico Gargiulo (c. 1609-1675), Salvator Rosa (1615-1673), Carlo Coppola (c. 1610-1660), Paolo Porpora (c. 1617-1670), Andrea de Lione (1610-1685), as well as Vaccaro and Marullo, mentioned above.7 7. De Dominici, 1742-1745, vol. III, pp. 33-34, 44-69, 74-76, 96-97, 101-121,
6. Spinosa, 1989, pp. 852-871; and in Florence, 2003, pp.188-193.
Fig. 3 — Luca Forte – Domenico Gargiulo, Marina with Fishermen and Display of Fish, whereabouts unknown.
Now almost all of these Neapolitan artists – whether painters of history, sacred or secular subjects intended for public devotion or private collections, or of genre, landscapes or battles – demonstrated a distinct interest in still life during the first half of the century and even beyond, as underlined by the studies we have cited by Ferdinando Bologna, Raffaello Causa and Nicola Spinosa, and by Giuseppe De Vito (1988, 1990, 2000, 2006). It is worth seeking a clearer definition of this interest, which took different forms according to different periods. Falcone, for example, was composing still life alone, independently, as well as working together with his friend and associate Luca Forte, as we know from the inventories of the Spinelli di Tarsia, which in fact record a composition “di figure e frutti” painted by both artists and “uno d’animali e figure”, perhaps one “con galline e testa d’agnello” (“with hens and a lamb’s head”) and four “ritratti di cavalli” (“portraits of horses”) painted only by Aniello. As for paintings such as the Expulsion of the Merchants from the Temple or the Concert in the Prado, the formidable passages of naturalism – plates, baskets, cages, and doves, in one
case, or fruit and flowers in a big vase on the other – can be attributed in one composition to Aniello and in the other to Luca. Some signed Still Lifes by Salvator Rosa and Andrea de Lione are known, in the Gemäldegalerie, Munich and in a private collection in Geneva, respectively; these reflect a more complex and evolved pictorial culture. Evidence of Andrea de Lione’s activity in this field appears in the genre passages in works such as his ex-Lanfranchi Venus and Adonis, or in the seventeen paintings with animal subjects listed as by him in the collection of Francesco Emanuele Pinto, Prince of Ischitella.8As for Giuseppe Marullo, a Still Life with Flowers signed in full in Latin appeared on the art market ten years ago; it is not of the highest quality but corresponds to the work of Forte and the putative Giacomo Recco9. Domenico Gargiulo is recorded as author of two works “di fiori e di figure” in an inventory of the collection of Giacomo Capece Zurlo (1715), and a Basket of Figs with Fruit and Flowers initialled “DG” in a private collection has recently and hypothetically been referred to him by Mina Gregori10; but it is quite probable in his case – as in that of his teacher Falcone – that he alternated independent activity in this field with collaborations of genre specialists. One can see this practice in the Marina with Fishermen and Display of Fish, marked “F”, in another private collection (fig. 3), published in 2000 by De Vito, where the fish (and signature) can certainly be given to Luca Forte, but with a seascape and lithe little figures of fishermen that seem to belong more to Spadaro than Falcone. Regarding Guarino, Cavallino, de Bellis and Spinelli, it must be said that while their depictions of still life may be very refined and occasionally show great naturalistic effect, they are still fairly limited and functional, and show more a sensitivity for genre subjects and a fluency in depicting nature than a desire to excel in the genre or create collaborations with specialists (as in the cases of Falcone and Spadaro). Examples of such depictions – lilies, roses, olives, grapes, palms, fruit, jars, baskets, working tools, wooden cradles, helmets, copper basins, plates and tableware made of pewter or pottery – appear respectively in the Death of St. Joseph in San Sossio di Serino, the Catello Birth of the Virgin, the Virgin of the Rosary in Sant’Andrea, Solofra, and the Isaac Blessing Jacob in the Schönborn collection in Pommersfelden; in the Immacolata in the Brera Gallery and the Banquet of Absalom in the Harrach collection in Rohrau; in the Healing of Saint Sebastian in Amiens, the Stories of Saint Charles Borromeo in the Neapolitan church of San Carlo alle Mortelle; and in the Lanciano Annunciation and the privately-owned Saint Stephen, Lot and His Daughters, and Saint Dorothy. A more complex issue is presented by artists such as Stanzione, Vaccaro, Finoglio, Pacecco, and Beltrano. Of all Neapolitan painters, Stanzione may be the one who 8. Zeri 1988, pp. 203-208; Spinosa, 1989b, pp. 862, 871 note 35, 902, with earlier literature. 9. Semenzato sale, Goito, 1997, lot 1130. 10. See Ruotolo 1973, p.152; and Gregori, in Florence, 2003, pp. 220-221.
most consistently, from the 1620s to the 1650s, dedicated large areas of his compositions to true representations of flowers, fruits, baskets, jars, vessels, plates or herds, and a number of paintings prove it: the objects laid on the table in the Supper at Emmaus in the Papal Palace in the Vatican, the jars and lambs of the Sacrifice of Noah at Capodimonte, the lilies and sewing basket in the ex-Galante Annunciation, the vessels, fruit baskets, flowers, and grapes in the Prado Bacchanal, and the spectacular rooster in the Woman in Costume in the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. There are post-prandial objects too: plates, vases, animals, in the Eucharistic Supper in San Martino, and fruit baskets in the Virgin of the Rosary in San Lorenzo, the Saint Dorothy now in Buenos Aires, the Stories of the Virgin in San Paolo Maggiore and in the Baptist in San Martino. In all these works, and even in the late, evanescent and truly Reni-inspired Last Supper in the Neapolitan monastery of Camaldoli, Stanzione always renders matter with naturalistic solidity – knives balancing on the edges of spotless tables, accompanied by their shadows, and the physical qualities of metals or ceramics – mingled with a increasing painterly softness that corresponds precisely to the evolution of his own language, in many respects running parallel and possibly receptive to Velázquez, thus suggesting his personal involvement in genre painting. However, scholars have highlighted at least two instances where on the contrary one might see the the presence of a genre specialist working beside the figure painter – one involves the two prominent vases of flowers in the Annunciations in Santo Stefano al Ponte in Florence and in the Church of the Annunziata in Marcianise (1655); the other, recently
Fig. 4 — Luca Forte – Massimo Stanzione, Putti Gathering Flowers, Naples, private collection.
discovered on the art market, is a large canvas with Putti Gathering Flowers (fig. 4) with figures by Stanzione and the methodical, vivid display of tulips, roses and other flowers by Luca Forte. These still life passages are a fundamental or at least equally important part of the composition, and confirm that during his last ten years of activity, during the 1640s and 1650s, Stanzione must also have alternated his own penchant for still life with collaborations from the major available specialists11. It is very likely, even if no sound evidence has yet been found, that the situation was the same for Stanzione’s pupil and Vitale’s stepson Pacecco De Rosa, who was certainly aware of the work produced jontly by Falcone and Forte and whose many sacred or secular works – ranging from the Adoration of the Shepherds now in the Chamber of Deputies to the various versions of Venus and Mars or Venus and Adonis – contain flowers and fruit baskets, vases of more or less precious metal, baskets of doves, and depictions of dogs or herds of animals, apparently painted directly by him; yet his lost Orpheus, once in the palace of Peppe Carafa, was painted in collaboration with the animal specialist “Pietro Fiammingo”, as we noted above. During the first half of the century I believe the same also applies to Andrea Vaccaro, Paolo Finoglio and Agostino Beltrano, who were able on their own to paint compelling depictions of roses, lilies or herds in many of their Virgins with Rosary, Immaculate 11. Causa 1972, fig. 405; De Vito 1990, p. 123; idem, 2006a, pp. 11, 13.
Virgins or Biblical Stories, but were likely helped by specialists in the most challenging passages. In Vaccaro’s case, this might concern the garlands and extensive flowery meadow in the Rinaldo and Armida formerly in the D’Avalos collection and now at Capodimonte, and certainly in the numerous animals (these too by “Pietro Fiammingo”?) present in the Orpheus and the Bacchantes in the Palazzo Reale, Naples, and in the flower wreath that frames the Saint Anthony in Blois and a young initialled Baptist that passed through Christie’s in Rome in 1986 – all works that can be dated to the 1640s and 1650s. As regards Finoglio, collaboration can probably be seen in the flowery meadows in the lower part of the Saint Anthony in the Galleria Corsini in Rome and, perhaps, even in the exceptional lilies (whose clarity resembles Forte) that adorn a Saint Gaetano Thiene in San Paolo Maggiore, Naples, which I believe could be by Finoglio. In the work of Beltrano (whose beautifully laid table in the Last Supper in the Cathedral of Pozzuoli emulates and rivals Stanzione’s at Camaldoli) evidence of collaboration could come from the flowers that enliven the modest Virgin and Child with Saint Nicholas of Tolentino of 1650 in Sant’Agostino degli Scalzi, and it is certainly present there in a privately-owned work (fig. 5) datable to about 1640/1645 and later replicated by Marullo in his Miraculous Catch of Fish in the Museum in Capua. Here Beltrano’s bald, bearded Fisherman is very similar to other figures of his such as the Pagano Lot and His Daughters, the Last Supper mentioned earlier, and the Martyrdom of Saint Alexander in the Cathedral of Pozzuoli; but this figure is accompanied by a striated landscape in the style of Spadaro and a depiction of fish, cuttlefish and squid whose rich handling of colour and reflection resembles those of
the marine Still Lifes proposed by De Vito as works by the young Paolo Porpora before his journey to Rome in 1650. The first half of the seventeenth century is probably not one of the better known or greatest periods of affirmation for Neapolitan still life painting, as it was still a long way off from the splendour of the Baroque age and the giant formats and decorative qualities of the grand compositions by Giuseppe Recco or Abraham Brueghel, but nonetheless it is in my opinion by far the most interesting period, marking the passage from the legacy of Flemish specialists to the birth of a melting pot of local naturalists. It represents the moment – in light of special relationships with Rome and Spain – in which an independent genre was instituted, and it also saw the outcome of a combined effort in the choices made by Neapolitan figure painters between naturalism and their interests for the neo-Venetian style. Its pioneers were Giacomo Coppola (newly rediscovered), Luca Forte, Giacomo Recco (whose identity still demands better definition), Paolo Porpora, and, reaching as far as 1650, Giovan Battista Recco; but as we have seen, there is much to discover, and much to understand about these painters and their numerous contemporaries, whose story remains largely unwritten. 12. The figure of the child in the Still life with Seafood, Wine, Bread and a Pie on wood panel published by De Vito (1988, pp. 75-76, figs. 29-30), with “Artemisia Gentilesca Giacomo Recco Fe.” inscribed on the verso seems to me to be by Beltrano and not Artemisia Gentileschi; thus the writing is not only unreliable proof of authorship for the figure painter but is unfortunately also weak evidence for identifying the elusive Giacomo Recco. The child can be compared with the angels in Beltrano’s documented Madonna delle Grazie in Nola (1646-1647) and his signed Coronation of the Virgin in Santa Maria del Popolo agli Incurabili in Naples (1649).
Fig. 5 — Paolo Porpora (?) – Agostino Beltrano, Fisherman with Basket of Fish, Naples, private collection.
Creatures of the waves, and of the mind: the figurative qualities of Neapolitan marine life filippo maria ferro
In Battistello’s Virgin and Child in the Capodimonte Museum, a picture steeped in divine fate, symbols assume a concrete form in the delicious offering of small apples, cherries, and hazelnuts depicted in a corner of the canvas1. This early reflection of Caravaggio’s style already shows how Neapolitans viewed nature as full of agitation, not least because the great painter had left a disturbingly emotional mark on a local culture that was already sensitized by Flemish painting. Traditionally, cose di natura evoked an immanent theological truth within the reality of the world by means of a fine network of signs, and this view persisted when the interest for flowers and fruit led to independent, elegant images that could express quiet prayers on their own2. There is however a moment in history in which economy marks a separation between cultures, and this happened in the countries of Northern Europe, in particular in the Flanders, at the end of the sixteenth century. The affirmation of commerce connected with the new Atlantic routes, the growth of an entrepreneurial bourgeois class, the religious schism between Catholics and Protestants, set into motion an unstoppable process of separation between the sacred and the profane. In that period the wealthy markets, the stalls full of fruit, fish and meat and the kitchens well stocked with food take the scene and become the true subject of the representation, even if still inserted in the by now faint frame of episodes of the gospel. It is a profane triumph that is equally announced in landscape painting. During the same time span natural philosophy rediscovered its relationship with nature free from any speculative conditioning, and opened itself up to a tangible knowledge of the world. In any case this passage, both in painting and
in natural philosophy, was not easily accomplished. It is not so much the sacred frame which constitutes the problem, but the conception itself, the mental attitude that informs and decides how to represent reality. In Northern cultures the critical attitude based on particular interpretations of the philosophy of Aristotle encourages the artists to carry out research which is strongly mentally independent from tradition, increasing direct interest towards nature. The humanist Hadrianus Junius summons for this new style the comparison with Pyrrheicus, the ancient Greek painter of shops and kitchens. The curiosity of collectors contributed to the speeding up of this process. Even if the representation of naturalia was considered as pittura minore, connoisseurs with bourgeois taste, such as traders and bankers, appreciated and commissioned it. Following this thought it is understandable that among the first experiences which can be considered are those of the Antwerp masters Pieter Aertsen and his nephew Joachim Beuckelaer: their markets with sellers of fish and venison and their kitchens with busy cooks takes centre stage in front of views of the town (for example in the painting by Beuckelaer formerly in the Farnese collection and now in Naples, Capodimonte), and confirm the flourishing wealth and rich production of the Low Countries and the growing importance of their ports after the discovery of America and of the routes to the East3. However, even if the profane display inclined to earthly pleasures seems to subvert vegetarian and penitential still life paintings, a subtle discipline still comes through in these images, even if with only marginal importance the gospel episodes continue to be present. In a painting by Aertsen (fig. 1) Christ’s encounter with Martha and Mary
1. The painting is in the Certosa di San Martino, inv. 21683; see Bologna,
3. The Low Countries (Flanders and Holland) were a fundamental nexus
in Naples, 1991, p. 211, no. 1.2.
for continuous influence and developments in still life throughout
2. Pozzi, 1987.
Europe. See Bergström, 1956.
Fig. 1 — Pieter Aersten, Meeting of Christ with Martha and Mary, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.
is set under a side of veal and fades into the background when compared to a small cheese wheel and some lemons; in another rendering of the same subject (Rotterdam, Museum Boymans Van Beuningen) the sacra conversazione occurs in the background, while a table is set with a fat bird, cheeses, apples and grapes in the foreground. This might appear to be a diminutio but on the contrary the religious depiction emerges, under the weight of opulence, as an admonition. The conviction that insinuates itself here is that wealth is connected (in Protestantism) to the idea of vanitas. A composition by Joachim Beuckelaer offered for sale at Christie’s New York4 sets an allegory of the Three Ages of Man around a table, contrasting the merry party in the foreground – with toasts in honour of a newborn child and a young musical couple – with the loneliness of an elderly man before a spent hearth in the background. In the same way the awareness that life is ephemeral emerges in the displays of markets and dinners. The imagery of food expresses the utopian desires of paupers and outcasts, as in the case of the Land of Cockayne by Pieter Brueghel, thus revealing the other face of society, as opposed to bourgeois wealth. Yet many signs show how the philosophy of nature overlays theological visions. While still maintaining their symbolic meaning, naturalia abandon their usual sacred quality and proclaim their independence: cherries and cucumbers continue to stand for blood and sin, but instead of foreshadowing the Passion in the silent communication between Mary and the young Jesus, they present themselves as cose di natura. This is the case with Battistello, whose fruits foreshadow those represented with dazzling
brightness by Luca Forte, all part of a search that seeks both urgent reality and formal abstraction. In Naples – distinct from the examples of Caravaggio and the Flemish painters – the lively ideas of natural philosophers from Calabria and Campania emerged independently. Telesio, Bruno, and Campanella characterised a new course and in fact steered Neapolitan culture in a radically profane direction, encouraging an extremely rigorous search for truth. In particular, Telesio took a decisively naturalistic turn with his De rerum natura iuxta propria principia, published in Naples between 1565 and 1585: “ciò che la natura rivela” (“what nature reveals”) and “ciò che i sensi testimoniano” (“what the senses witness”) come together in a unified vision. Giordano Bruno’s position was religious and pantheistic, yet love of nature and knowledge of it prefigure an intimate union with the universe and provoke a Dionysian thrill for the infinite. The supremacy of the sense-based approach preached by Telesio is found again in the Compendium de rerum natura by Tommaso Campanella, published in 1595 and then again in 1617. This purposeful invention was enriched in a special way by local tradition in both painting and philosophy. Charles Sterling5 hypothesised a continuity of vision connecting the nascent painting of reality and the enchanting frescoes and mosaics of Roman Antiquity (figs. 2, 3, 4). Reading ancient authors’ detailed reports of the wonders of mimesis would have ignited the imagination of modern artists, activating unconscious affinities. Following this line of thought, De Vito6 pointed out peculiar coincidences between Roman paintings and works by Luca Forte, Paolo Porpora and Filippo Napoletano. Precise comparisons became clearer as the study of ancient paintings widened in quantity and scope7. 5. Sterling, 1952, 1959. 6. De Vito 1990, pp. 115-119; 2003, pp. 146-150; 2006b, pp. 72-77.
4 Christie’s, New York, 25 May 2005, pp. 62-63, lot 27.
7. Sampaolo, in Rimini, 1998; De Caro, 2001.
Fig. 2 — Roman art, 45/79 AD, Still Life, fresco (detail), Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, from Pompeii.
Was this transfer of meaning therefore assured by the evocative description (ekphrasis) of Philostratus and by the Imagines?8 Actually the villas of Mount Vesuvius with their refined decorations emerged from beneath the lava and oblivion only in the eighteenth century. Yet doubts still remain. Mina Gregori reflects that “It is very likely that in the sixteenth and seventeenth century painters and their patrons knew of examples from antiquity through surviving wall paintings and mosaics in Rome and its dominions”9. However this may have evolved, our painters must have dreamt of past images, marvelling at the Western expressive tradition that had emerged from Hellenistic sensitivity. Reflections of the ancient world were also found in the images devised for banquet halls – a philosophy of nature already present in Pliny. The magic realism on the walls of villas communicated an unbroken tradition to Renaissance artists, and the abstracting quality of the Middle Ages was no longer there to erase this need for mimesis. Thus the famous grotesques of Nero’s Domus Aurea became a limitless repertory of decorative imagery, based largely on motifs drawn from nature. And the xenia – tablets offered to guests, as testified by Vitruvius, Philostratus and Martial – offered a bella mostra of the fruits of the earth, shown in their natural state, like the inviting Basket of Figs discovered
at Oplontis (fig. 5): this ritual was devoid of the sacred, yet it preserved its rhythm and fullness. Filippo Napoletano became the ambassador of these wonders in Florence, where he painted citrons, shells and a “crystal cooler with various fruits” for the Medici. Painters of nature were deeply impressed by this authentic realism, and felt as if they were reliving the occasions where painted offerings were given to the guests at Ancient Roman banquets. In Naples a notable quantity of masterpieces was created by Luca Forte, Paolo Porpora and the Recco and Ruoppolo families, bringing the so-called still life genre to the high level seen elsewhere in Italy and Europe10. A distinctive sign of Neapolitan culture was reflected in early knowledge of aquatic species and the representation of fish. Used as a symbol of Christ (ichthus: iesous christos theou uios soter), fish were almost always depicted on the the table of the Last Supper, and this allegorical content became part of the vanitas theme of the Reformation, as in the carps painted in France by Sébastien Stoskopff, the poet of silence11. Fish were therefore typical of Northern markets12, and they embellished the Fish Markets by Bartolomeo Passerotti13 and Kitchens by the Cremonese Campi family14; yet more varieties of fish accompany the Cook in a Kitchen in the 10. Causa, 1972; Naples, 1984-1985; Salerno, 1984, 1989; Zeri – Porzio, 1989; Spinosa, in Florence, 2003, pp. 188-193. 11. Tapié, in Rome, 2000, pp. 212-213. 12. Helmus, 2004.
8. Acanfora, in Florence, 2003.
13 Guarino, in Rome, 1995-1996, pp. 94-95, no. 6.
9. Gregori, in Florence, 2003, pp 15-19.
14. Gregori, 1991.
Galleria Corsini, Florence, attributed to the Pensionante del Saraceni or Van Oost the Elder15. The Biblical Miraculous Catch of Fish eventually unfolds the allegorical meanings in an objective contemplation, and highlights the magic of fish emerging from the water. They are represented in this way by Bernardino Cesari in the Calling of Andrew, painted for the chapel of the fish-sellers in Sant’Angelo in Pescheria, Rome, in 1619; in the same year the Roman artist Antonio Tanari composes his triumphal depictions of fish for the Medici court17. The fascination with fishing and the surprise of fish struggling in full nets are also forcefully proposed by the Neapolitan Giuseppe Marullo, a close follower of Ribera, in the large evangelical picture now in the Museum of Capua. Compared with other still life subjects such as vegetables or animals, fish achieve a very specific intensity and figurative quality. “Fish, that mysterious underwater creature”, notes Mina Gregori in a fascinating digression, “coincided with what was considered imaginary during the anti-Renaissance, potentially even bringing out the mediaeval belief in its demonic nature and erotic meaning”18. These are the creatures which Ulisse Aldrovandi, at the court of Francesco I de’ Medici, asked Jacopo Ligozzi to portray from nature or from specimens preserved in spirits, “arcani della natura” ready to be transformed into “bizzarrie dell’arte”19. Fish do not only emerge from the deep, like secret visions of buried archaeology populated by hidden emotions. It is their shimmering, their reflections between water and air, that suggest the exploration of rare and transient effects of light. The verses of the young Galileo Galilei come to mind: “Tal arde il sol mentre i possenti rai / frange per antro una fredda acqua pura / che tra l’esca risplende e il chiaro lume”. This transformation of elements and colour lent marine creature a dreamlike quality. Giuseppe De Vito observes “the richness of shape and colour of the marine fauna of a mythified Gulf, with its infinite possibility combinations, was surely sufficient stimulation for an artist who wanted to portray the subtle variations of light, the changing of hues from natural reality with a precocious romantic sensitivity, filling shadowy spaces with real things”20. After all, fish are largely present in the interpretations of dreams that Gerolamo Cardano takes from Artemidorus21, 15. Cottino, in Rome, 1995-1996, pp. 168-169, no. 47. 16. Guarino, in Rome, 1995-1996, pp. 100-101, no. 9. 17. Gregori, 2006, pp. 3-48. 18. Gregori, 2006, p. 12. 19. Gregori, 2006, pp. 12-21. 20. De Vito, 1988. 21. Cardano, 1562, vol. IV. Gerolamo Cardano (1501-1576) was a complex figure – physician/magician, mathematician, inventor, philosopher, inventor, expert in the occult; he stands between Telesio and Bruno in natural philosophy. A proponent of the oneirocritic, he was inspired by Artemidorus, especially through the writings of Bishop Synesius of Cyrene, and influenced a number of treatises during the seventeenth century (now in the Biblioteca Casanatense, Rome) remaining important for the re-evaluation of dreams in Western culture until their scientific study and interpretation (Traumdeutung) proposed by Freud in 1899.
Fig. 3 — Roman art, 45/79 AD, Still Life, fresco (detail), Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, from Pompeii.
and the ancient text seems to find support, with the mediation of this natural philosopher, in the popular atmosphere of the byways of Naples: “Pigliare pesci assai & grandi, è buono & promette utile e guadagno à tutti, eccetto a coloro, che fanno le loro arti sedendo, & a sofisti, perche a quegli il sogno predice otio poscia che non possono fare l’opera solita & pescare insieme, & a questi dimostra auditori meno atti dover andar da loro, percioche i pesci son muti. […] Pesci cartilagini, massimamente lunghi, mostrano vana fatica, ne mandano ad effetto cio che speriamo, percioche sbrisciano di mano, & mancano di scaglie, lequali sono d’attorno al corpo, come all’huomo i colori, & sono questi: La murena, l’anguilla e’l congro. I pesci piani mostrano etiandio pericolo, per la salvatichezza, & per l’insidie come la pastinaca, la torpedine, il bue marino e’l pesce che aquila si chiama, il mustello, & la squatina & altri simili. Tutti i pesci che paiono havere scagli, ma non ne hanno, annullano le speranze di colui, che ha sognato, come il thunno & le sue spetie, la pelamide, il simo & il malleolo, la monedula e simili. Ma i mormiri, i melanuri, i scorpioni & i go, A huomini malefici & poco grati predicono infermita. Caracini e blemi, a cattivi & inutili huomini, mostrano male. Pesci de laghi sono veramente buoni, ma
Fig. 4 — Roman art, 90/20 BC, Still Life, mosaic (detail), Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, from Pompeii.
alquanto meno, perche sono di minore pretio & spesa, che di quegli di mare, ne similmente nodriscono”. Among the painters, Paolo Porpora crafted exceptionally interesting images, and was a brilliant interpreter of the genre. Beyond his disturbing forest floors, where snakes and slimy snails slither among moss and butterflies, he created striking marine scenes. Creatures emerge from woods and water, and their bare reality still appears to be full of mystery and ambivalent myth. The eye moves to the kitchen table but then lingers on beaches crowded with fish of every species: Giovan Battista Recco, Giuseppe Recco, and Giovan Battista Ruoppolo portray this marine universe in rich detail, with the care of naturalists but also with an uneasy and fearful perception of the universe. While Flemish artists depicted the products of the Northern seas in an orderly market display, here the fish often appear as if they had just been poured out of the net and are gasping, twisting, and intertwining, and eloquently revealing their doomed condition. Sometimes, instead of being displayed on the stalls of a market or on kitchen tables, the marine creatures are washed up on beaches at sunrise or shine through leaden nights, almost foreshadowing the shipwrecks depicted by Romantic painters or the images of the sickly and metamorphic classicism of Böcklin. In a
landscape of suspended solemnity, with beaches and grottoes, with an old fisherman and young boatman painted by Aniello Ascione, Luca Forte composes his display of fish wriggling in baskets between beach and greenery22. The marine world thus reveals an inner reality, as if anguished dreams are being poured onto the sand. “Among the many desirable dishes present on a well-laid table, artists could choose the shapes and colours that best suited their expressive intentions, such as the unpleasantlooking and somber red scorpion fish, pinkish gurnards, circled two-banded breams, shining gilthead breams, flat soles which lend themselves to various tricks of perspective, brown spiny lobsters, diaphanous shrimps, cuttlefish and soft squid, slimy and elusive eels, contorted octopuses, blinking rays, crabs, oysters, mussels, etc.”23. Restless visions, scientific surprises, and miracles of the Wunderkammer. Recipes for roasts and tasty soups, in every combination, as reported by the Assisa del Pesce of 1647: l’æil gourmand does not limit its hunger to knowledge. And there is more. Images that can prompt poetic inventions, accompanied by verses from the Egloghe piscatorie by Cesare Capaccio24, and reveal the drama, particularly fitting for the Reccos, of being – literally – a fish out of water. The fact that the 22. De Vito, 2000, pp. 30-31, figs. IX-XII. 23. De Vito, 1999, pp. 18-42. 24. Capaccio, 1598.
Fig. 5 — Roman art, 20 BC/45 AD, Basket of Figs, fresco (detail), Oplontis, Villa di Poppea.
preoccupations of Neapolitans were attributed to marine creatures, mirroring their destiny, is demonstrated by a tarantella tune, Lo guarracino (1700) – significantly enough, introduced by the painter Salvator Rosa – with the rendition of no less than ninety-two species of fish “Sàrache, dientice ed achiate, / scurme, tunne e alletterate! …” (“Two-banded breams, dentexes and saddled sea breams, / mackerels, tunas and little tunnies!”), generating poetics and music that still reflect that world today. The light shed on natural philosophy was also Carte sian, and Raffaele Ajello25 has nicely captured their message, while the actual luminosity of marine creatures ensured an enduring study of nature and its secrets. Descartes takes us back to the De mari by Telesio and the De Piscibus libri V by Ulisse Aldrovandi, and obviously to the studies of the French Belon26 and Rondelet27. However, when realism lost the original energy of Caravaggio and his early followers, the supple movements of fish also lost their raw essence and were moulded into decorative patterns for easier entrance into aristocratic and princely residences.
This is what happened to Giovan Battista Ruoppolo in his last phase, entranced as he was by the Roman artists Mario dei Fiori and Michelangelo Cerquozzi and by the Fleming Abraham Brueghel. The creations of Porpora, Recco, and Ruoppolo were to remain icons of Neapolitan culture, and the nineteenth century would rediscover their message. After his sojourn in Paris, where he admired Chardin and Courbet, Francesco Paolo Palizzi composed darkly poetic plates of oysters28. The scorpion fish that was so dear to Paolo Porpora, and drawn by Vincenzo Gemito as he emerged from melancholy isolation in 1909, almost giving shape to a dream. His touching pen drawing is on a seventeenth-century sheet of paper, highlighted, as if it were a layer of a palimpsest, over the minute handwriting that fills the background29.
25. Ajello, 1980, pp. 3-181, 1982-1983, pp. 343-359. 26. Belon, 1551, 1553.
28. Giannotti, in Coliva, 2004a, pp. 192-193; Ricci, 1960, pp. 50-51.
27. Rondelet, 1554, 1556.
29. Giannotti, in Coliva, 2004b, pp. 240-241.
Neapolitan still life: new demands on the sense of sight grard labrot
“I discorsi nostri hanno a essere intorno al mondo sensibile e non sopra un mondo di carta.” Galileo, Dialogo dei Massimi Sistemi, Florence, 1632 Galileo’s assertive observation reveals a major transformation in the concept of knowledge that developed in Italy during the second half of the sixteenth century. Galileo, Telesio, Campanella, and others less well-known thinkers questioned the legitimacy of knowledge that was purely academic, largely codified, inherited and repeated, and even brought to a standstill under the untouchable authority of Aristotle. Philosophers and scholars advocated the development of a direct, personal relationship with the external world. They felt the need for an unprejudiced study of nature, a study that would dismiss memory and proceed with a resolute, confident assessment of the senses, and of sight in particular. Man should examine, analyse and explain what he sees, and science should be at the forefront. In 1583, the naturalist Andrea Cesalpino published his highly significant botanical treatise, De Plantis. Following his lead and broadening the field of study, Bernardino Telesio gave an explicit title to the first chapter of the fifth part of his major treatise, De Rerum Natura, published in 1586: “Animalium plantarumque constitutionem indagandum est” (“We must make a study of the constitution of animals and plants”). Of course art and science do not pursue the same goals, but the partitions between the disciplines are not completely impervious, at least not at certain points in history, and the blossoming of still life that proved to be so remarkable – particularly in Naples throughout the seventeenth – was undoubtedly not fortuitous. In the land of Telesio, Ferrante Imperato, Fabio Colonna and Leonardo di Capua, among other seekers of truth, still life played its own role in sharpening the focus of our observation of the natural world. Over time, still lifes provided the details of a complex, inexhaustible, demanding and seductive world, as witnessed by the
collections which welcomed them, sometimes precociously, with open arms; and these were the collections that signalled the opening of Naples to the outside world, documenting a broad dialogue between local naturalist painters and stangers – Romans such as Pier Paolo Bonzi, Nucci and Spadino, and painters from the North of Europe such as Jan Fyt and Nicasius Bernaerts, among others. There was thus considerable room for the Neapolitans to join the great undertaking of depicting nature, and especially for two powerful painterly dynasties that were to ensure the continuity and enrichment of this genre: the Reccos and the Ruoppolos. Caravaggio led the way, defining the essential goals. Rejecting all semblance of the traditional intellectual and social hierarchy and ignoring precious objects and their cultural context – thus resembling Giovanni Battista della Porta in this respect – the great Lombard painted the products of nature, and above all the fruits of the earth. The Neapolitan naturalists continued to study in this direction, painting fruit, vegetables and flowers – in fact, so many flowers, vegetables and fruit that man and his work were relegated to the background in the rare paintings in which they appeared. Unlike Flemish pictures, demonstrations of wealth and the self-satisfying display of luxury would thus be all but absent in Naples. This excision obliged observers and artists alike to focus on the life force of the objects themselves, and of each individual object, utterly cut off from its natural environment and endowed with a singular visual impact, dispelling the usual familiarity that traditionally erases its appearance and nature. The power of the still life was thus founded on the presentation of objects, on the richness and originality of the arrangements which, depending on the artists’ intentions, could offer up the most energy-filled concentration or the most eloquent dispersal. To take a painting by Luca Forte: the flowers, like the fruit, are often few in number, contained within modest dimensions, and thus offering a surprisingly powerful perspective. The powerfully analytical quality
that plays with form and light compels one’s gaze to slow down, and similar demands and economy of means can be found in some of Porpora’s paintings (private collection, cat. no. 8), where conflicting shapes and colours are most stimulating to the viewer’s sight. Conversely, the paintings of Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, often large in size, multiply the number of objects, erecting a veritable vertical drapery in which the life that exists within nature, driven to its extreme, is conveyed through the multiple relationships between these objects and through the contrasts of form and colour that Porpora wielded so masterfully (one need only cite the canvases in the Di Capua collection, Turin, cat. no. 12). Individually detailed and examined down to the texture of their skins, or arranged in euphoric disorder, the objects may be depicted more or less close to the observer. Forte’s fruit, certain bouquets by Giuseppe Recco (private collection; cat. no. 27) and many of the works of Giuseppe Ruoppolo, through their motionless proximity and the clearly static gaze that sought them out, suggest near-scientific powers of observation. More complex and turbulent, many of the paintings by Giovan Battista and Giuseppe Recco, irrespective of their actual dimensions, introduce a sense of physical, but also critical, distance that is indispensable in order for the eye to find its bearings and establish the landmarks that will organise its involuntary itinerary running from the squid to the ewer or from the pot to the fish. Forte’s fruits and flowers become veritable portraits, and Recco’s copper and crabs have a character of their own. Both proximity and distance invite the observer to examine space and the spaces within the still lifes, and to make an even more in-depth inventory of the locations and implements employed by the painters, so as to embrace the objects themselves. Often discreet, born of a penumbral space that projects fruit, flowers and even fish towards us, the space within the small and some of the mid-sized formats becomes the obedient accomplice of the painter, but also of his viewers, who devote themselves to examining each object in detail, to appreciating its form, its matte or shiny aspect, its smooth or rough surface, before embracing this veritable manifestation of nature with a vanquished look. This look, so subtly guided by the artist, uncovers a space which is much closer to Telesio’s conception than to the theories of Aristotle, a space which knows no fear of emptiness and which is filled with joy by the particular form of the body represented within it. Numerous paintings display their chosen objects, whether few or large in number, on a stone plinth or a table that may be further hardened by a sharp edge. This expedient allows for a neutral background and a softening of three-dimensionality, an approach that was particularly dear to Luca Forte, since there were fewer distractions for the viewer’s eye. Plinths and tables are then able to display their contents horizontally, as in Giovan Battista Recco (Switzerland, private collection; cat. no. 4), Giovan Battista Ruoppolo (Paris, Galerie Canesso; cat. no. 31), and even more energetically, Giovanni Quinsa (Paris, Galerie Canesso; cat. no. 14). These displays encourage and even impose an elaborate reading, from left to right, of each individual object and more or less
densely populated groups, transforming the canvas into a site of attentive, differentiating analysis, but also into an offering of true delight. The solidity of the table and the stony roughness of the plinth delicately highlight the charm of the encounter and the delectable nature of the array. This delectation was to reach its pinnacle in a complex place adorned by Flemish naturalists with a plethora of seductions: the kitchen or pantry – yet the variations on this theme by Giovan Battista and Giuseppe Recco most often demonstrate a striking degree of simplicity and sobriety. With them, we have moved far away from the kitchens of the local aristocracy as detailed in inventories. Instead, local foodstuffs that were by no means rare are offered up in an appetising display: fish and molluscs, shells, eggs, onions and a few meats (Naples, Pignatelli Museum; cat. no. 33). The painter studies a familiar location, exhibiting an inviting panorama of the ingredients used to prepare meals rather than the preparation itself. The cook is not yet at work, and his or her implements, pots, jars and dishes await human intervention. Naturally, sight plays a vital role in these paintings, but it in no way exhausts the range of sensations at work; touch in particular has a definite role to play: the radiant curve of a pot or an oyster’s mother-of-pearl surface evokes the pleasures of tactility, and moreover informs both the art-lover and the historian that man’s relations with the world owe their richness to the initial felicitous intensity of sensations. Neapolitan artistic production presents the tremendous advantage of limiting our relationship with objects to a few square feet, to the exclusion of all distraction, but also of expanding this relationship outward to fill a room and nature as a whole, since an atmospheric landscape could on occasion envelop or detach these compositions. Far from being locked away, and always within our reach in a tempting solitude, the objects and products of the land and sea can also relate to the world at large. The two wonderful pictures by Luca Forte in the Cei collection in Florence show to what extent the naturalists – far from isolating themselves, imposing limits or even exclusion in their work – were perfectly aware of what local workshops were producing, of the speculations of painters such as Spadaro and Falcone, and – as in the case of Giuseppe Recco (Naples, Pignatelli Museum, cat. no. 25) – they could even incorporate the seascapes of Salvator Rosa. But their investigation into nature also led them beyond Naples; the two works by Porpora in Capodimonte explore a somewhat troubling natural world – one of thick, shadowy undergrowth populated with reptiles and tortoises, frogs and lizards – with an intense curiosity. And yet the pioneers of this exploration were in this instance Northern naturalists, van Schrieck and Withoos, whom Porpora must surely have met in Rome. Nature is therefore not exclusively welcoming and kind, nor free from threat – a silent, virtually hidden threat which invites the observer to reflect on the powerful contrasts which the Neapolitan naturalists subtly offered up for consideration. The splendour and abundance of flowers and fruit make one forget those who cut and harvest them. But above all, the inert, upturned crabs whose tight, cur-
ved, aggressive claws are depicted by Giuseppe Recco, and the fish and molluscs he aligned on a hard, broken stone overlooking a dark rock on an inhospitable shore, while displaying the abundance of the catch, also provide a much stronger illustration of the potent presence of the predator, the fisherman preparing the work of the cook. This universe of still lifes – “universe” being by no means an exaggeration – asserts itself through its diversity, and above all through the painters’ originality, a winsome individuality expressed by the recurrence of favourite objects and the choice of easily recognisable elements of style. Andrea Belvedere’s bindweed and Giovan Battista Ruoppolo’s sliced watermelon constitute veritable signatures. The latter’s red sun studded with black dots slows down the viewer’s glance, transforming it into a circular eddy compelled to examine the inside of the fruit, and at the same time demonstrating its constructive power and its ability to prioritise (Paris, Galerie Canesso, cat. no. 31). But beyond mere objects, there is such structural originality, such constructive preference, ranging from the strong horizontality of Quinsa’s work to the profuse richness and dramatic complexity of uncontrollable nature in Porpora’s paintings. In this respect, Giuseppe Recco and Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, the most inventive of all, demand closer examination in order to do justice to their tremendous creative ability. The first, a master of brushwork and forms, gives a rigorously structured assessment of the world. Each painting presents an authoritative composition, regardless of its size and the objects assembled, which are always placed with unfailing precision. This structural vigour is skilfully expressed in the virtuosity of how objects are related to one another (flowers with pastries, no less!) and how objects relate to the space around them. This fluency also allowed him to invent new, dynamic rhythms, in which dissymmetry plays a seductive role, as well as to organise visual, dimensional and tonal conflicts of surprising energy (Paris, Galerie Canesso, cat. no. 21). Recco thus offers the observer a sharply-honed perception of the richness of the external world, of nature’s produce, utensils and occasional prepared food, whose tasty dialogue is arranged by the painting. As for Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, themes and materials, formats and techniques are all made the subject of investigation as the painter scours the depths of still life; and this inspection is combined with the constant desire to celebrate the infinite richness of the world, the euphoric overabundance of all products of land and sea. Yes, nature is unlimited in her fertility, and this in all seasons, unceasingly uniting – and this is her particular charm and secret – abundance with succulence. Ruoppolo quite naturally wishes to offer this gift to the art-lover by bringing them together through his eye and his touch, creating an enticing sense of nearness (Milan, private collection; cat. no. 34). Finally, this opulence is intensified in the sharp contrast between light and shadow, and in the ability of the latter to erase distance. But it would be fitting here to expand our discussion and focus on the painter’s technique with respect to light: while he worked to transform light into a revelation
and an ally, he was by no means alone in his search. All naturalists had observed the importance and the roles, both creative and semantic, of light and had rediscovered some philosophical certainties. It is therefore not meaningless to briefly let Tommaso Campanella have his say: “Ecco la luce con quanto acutissimo senso si spande sopra la terra per moltiplicarsi, generarsi, amplificarsi [...]”. In a sort of Baroque flourish that can be found in many of Giuseppe Ruoppolo’s pieces, abundance and light draw our attention to the benefits of nature in Campania, celebrating the region’s generosity. The most ravishing still lifes thus participated in the construction of the magnificent myth of Campania Felix, whose tireless beauty and fertility they glorify. From that point onward, contemporary paintings and texts began to sing the same tune, which travellers – particularly the French – did not fail to take up and develop, and whose variations were later gathered and translated by Gino Doria. Dazzled by what he had discovered, Monseigneur de Saint-Gelais expressed himself in passionate enumeration: “Olivi, aranci, melograni, fichi e palme di datteri, peri, mandorli, meli, allori, rosmarini, maggiorana […]”. Jacques de Villamont explored the source of these treasures, the garden: “Vi si vedono bei giardini irrigati di chiare fonti pieni di aranci e limoni carichi di frutti in ogni tempo [...]”. As an attentive, sensitive scholar, Jean Mabillon underscored the absence of a seasonal respite: “Diresti che v’è una sola stagione dell’anno, cioè una primavera autunnale o un autunno primaverile in cui i fiori e i frutti non mancano quasi mai [...]”. Finally, a well-known Neapolitan Giulio Cesare Capaccio, historian of his city, observed that the profusion of fruit, flowers and fragrances “mi ha fatto star in forse se in Napoli il Paradiso terrestre si ritrova […]”. However, the participation (perhaps at times unwitting) of painting in the celebration and the invention of a city and its countryside cannot conceal a remarkable originality of the Neapolitan still life: its capacity to evolve along with history in general and to continuously enrich its functions. In the wake of scholars and philosophers, the naturalists thus explored the world and then, without fully renouncing it, confirmed the creative power of Baroque exaltation in superabundant canvases that made full use of the genre’s decorative potential. Giuseppe Ruoppolo and Giuseppe Recco’s children, Giovan Battista and Elena, followed by the quite mediocre petits maîtres succeeding them – Casissa and Lopez – ensured the stunning success of this trend, as amply illustrated by collection inventories. The price of success became evident as the naturalists abandoned observation in favour of overproduction and multiple series, repeating the same bouquet or bowl of fruit ad nauseam. The stylistic qualities that nourished experimentation were replaced by stereotypes, in the interest of the quick, mechanical rendering of the surface of things. Pervasive, now numbering in the hundreds, still lifes then filled eighteenth-century residences with their superficial charm; against this stood the last great representative of a school that had been so demanding in terms of observation of the world: Andrea Belvedere.
Catalogue vď&#x;Šronique damian giuseppe de vito pierluigi leone de castris denise maria pagano claudia salvi nicola spinosa angela tecce
Giacomo Coppola (documented in Naples in the first quarter of the 17
1. Still Life with Baskets of fruit, Blackberries,
Flask and Wine Glass and Flower Pot oil on canvas, 35 ⁷⁄₁₆ × 43 ⁵/₁₆ in ₍90 × 110 cm₎ initialled “g.c.” at lower right, on the white ceramic dish gallipoli, museo civico
literature. De Giorgi, 18821897, vol. I, p. 58; D’Elia, in Bari, 1964, pp. 176, 180 no. 178; Bologna, in Bergamo, 1968, plate 26; Causa, 1972, p. 1043 note 63; Volpe, 1973, p. 28; Galante, 1975, p. 1500 no. 37; Rosci, 1977, p. 200; D’Elia 1982, p. 264; Galante, 1989, p. 965 plate 1171, pp. 967-968, 992 notes 21-26; Wiedmann, 1990, pp. 176-177; Galante, in Lecce, 1995, pp. 65-66, no. 45; Leone de Castris, 2005, pp. 74-87. exhibitions. Lecce, 1939; Bari, 1964, no. 178; Lecce, 1995, no. 45.
This painting comes from the Coppola residence in Alezio (near Gallipoli, in the province of Lecce), and by the late nineteenth century De Giorgi had already published it as evidence that Giovanni Andrea Coppola (1597-1659), an artist from Gallipoli in the Salento, worked as genre painter. It was also cited as an example of other such works that might have existed in the same family collection. It was brought to the attention of still life studies by D’Elia during the Mostra dell’Arte in Puglia (1964) and published as by Giovanni Andrea Coppola because of the traditional attribution, the signature “G.C.”, and its “tono freddamente accademico” that might associate it with still lifes by Empoli and Paolini. The artist, it was suggested, painted it during a Tuscan sojourn datable to about 1636-39, and the attribution has been constantly repeated, not only by D’Elia himself (1982) but also by Galante (1975, 1989, 1995). However, Galante explained its undoubted “napoletanità” by presumed contacts the Apulian artist had with the Viceregal capital during the 1650s, and named Giovan Battista Recco and Giovan Battista Ruoppolo as its “referenti più pertinenti”, accordingly dating it to before the “congiuntura determinatasi intorno alla metà del sesto decennio”, that is, before the mid-1650s. Its archaic, Caravaggesque appearance and the uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding its provenance and initials – entirely different from the signatures used by Giovanni Andrea – did not go unnoticed in the following years, and Bologna (1968) tried to re-read the letters (“C.C.” rather than “G.C.”) as standing for Carlo Coppola, a painter of battles active in Naples and a pupil, according to early sources, of Aniello Falcone, “nella cui bottega, frequentata anche da Paolo Porpora, il genere della natura morta era coltivato”. In 1972 Causa dismissed both theories of authorship by comparing the painting with Giovanni Andrea’s large religious canvases in Gallipoli and Carlo’s known and signed Battles, and preferring to name our painter “Maestro di Casa Coppola”, defining him as “un altro napoletano della generazione antica, prima della metà del secolo, che ‘ammoderna’ Luca Forte e il Maestro di Palazzo San Gervasio, tenendo d’occhio le Cucine di Titta e qualche risultanza più giovanile di G.B.Ruoppolo”. In 1982 the painting was donated by the heirs of Niccolò Coppola to the city of Gallipoli together with another eighteen canvases, all attributed to Giovanni Andrea Coppola but in fact mostly copies or works of a later date.
The work was then restored and displayed in the 1995 exhibition Il Barocco a Lecce e nel Salento, becoming fully available for the first time to both the public and scholars. Subsequently, the present writer attempted to date it to the period of the earliest Neapolitan still lifes, between the end of the 1610s and early 1620s, and proposed the hitherto unknown Giacomo Coppola as its author – a painter mentioned in archival documents as active in Naples in 1610, when he received payment on 22 October from a certain Gian Girolamo di Ghero for “otto quadri di verdure” and on 3 July from the Duke of Peñaranda for a painting of Landscapes. Indeed a number of elements recall the first generation of Caravaggesque, Roman still life painting: the rigid geometry and grouping of objects, the axial, centralized composition, and true sense of transparency and refraction in the globe vase; the realistic and solid exuberance of leaves, baskets, grapes, and melons, of shiny pomegranates and figs with cracked skin; and the austere display of birds and copper vessels, pottery plates and sliced salami. These parallels can be found in the so-called Master of Hartford and above all the Master of the Acquavella Still Life, following the thread that connects Caroselli, Crescenzi and Cavarozzi – all shown to have been well known in Naples between 1614 and 1617 (Leone de Castris, 2005), and hinted at by the grapes in the Bacchus by Carlo Sellitto, now in Frankfurt, painted before the end of 1614. With the rediscovery of Giacomo Coppola and the presumably old date of the picture in Gallipoli, Neapolitan still life is enriched by a truly early and authoritative addition that could have influenced the local development of the genre for a considerable time. The pantries and vegetable paintings by Giacomo Coppola would have provided inspiration for Quinsa at his best, for early Titta Recco, and above all for the earliest period of Luca Forte, in his “cose […] che hanno l’avanti e l’indietro” (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, pp. 293-294) such as the Citrons, Fruit and Vase of Flowers in a Neapolitan collection (Bologna, 19831984, cat. no. 16), or the Birds, Fruit and Vase of Flowers in the Galleria Sabauda, Turin (di Macco in Turin, 1989, p. 110 no. 118), or the other signed work (De Vito, 1990, p. 121) with a split watermelon in the centre. These last paintings are among the most closely related to our composition as regards composition and underlying culture. pierluigi leone de castris
Giovan Battista Recco naples ?, c. 1615 before 1675 In the early 1960s pioneering articles by Di Carpegna (1961), Bottari (1961) and De Logu (1962; 1964) provided a summary reconstruction of the Giovan Battista Recco’s oeuvre, built around a handful of signed or initialled paintings. Ignored by the Neapolitan biographer De Dominici (1742-45) – but this was already in the mid eighteenth century – the artist’s name is recorded on 9 July 1675 in a note that long remained only in manuscript form. This was part of a letter written to inform the Florentine biographer Filippo Baldinucci about artists working since 1640 in Naples or the Viceregal Kingdom. In 1675 Giovan Battista was recorded as deceased (Baldinucci [ed. Barocchi], 1975, VI, p. 366), and notwithstanding its pithy quality, this reference to “Giovambattista Recco, pittore di pesci, morto” is doubly interesting. Firstly it tells us he was in Naples or its environs, yet without linking him to any other members of the Recco family, who were also mentioned in a passage stating that Giuseppe Recco was the son of Giacomo Recco (see also Prota-Giurleo, 1953, pp. 14-15). Although no document has ever confirmed it, art historians have accepted that Giovan Battista certainly belonged to this family of artists, and that he was the brother of Giacomo Recco, making him uncle of the better known Giuseppe Recco. The citation also tells us that “Giovambattista” was known as a painter of fish, though this is not necessarily confirmed by archival documents. The four inventory listings discussed by Labrot (1992, p. 552) describe pictures with fruit and flowers, while two others mention a kitchen interior (in the collection of the Flemish banker Ferdinand Vandeneynden) as by “Titta Recco”, the occasionally used diminutive version of his name; and another composition with fruit – “uva, percochie, fichi” (Di Carpegna, 1961, p. 123). Two other paintings, said to be by “Titta Recco”, one with “dentro riposto da tavola”, the other a “Quadro pieno di pesci”,
are mentioned in the Ruffo collection in Messina, both large-format canvases (Ruffo, 1917, pp. 151-152, 164). Given the silence of the early sources, what may we learn from the works identified thus far? In 1961 Di Carpegna published four signed paintings and in 1972 Causa spoke of six, as well as dated ones, noting that many questions remained unanswered, which is much the same situation today. The dated works are only from the years 1653 and 1654 – sparse information, and scarcely useful for getting to the heart of this mystery. Nor does the existence of a “G.B.R.” monogram – the same as in Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, and as regards the first and last letters, also used by Giacomo Recco and Giuseppe Recco – facilitate our task. Moreover, these initials can take different forms: they appear intertwined in the enigmatic Kitchen Interior from a private collection (fig. 1) exhibited in 1964-1965 as a work by Giovan Battista Ruoppolo (Naples-ZurichRotterdam, p. 51, no. 83, fig. 33b); and again in the Still Life with Fish in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, even if only with the last two letters tied together. These two pictures are now unanimously accepted by scholars as the work of Giovan Battista Recco. The letters can also be seen detached from one another, as in the imposing Kitchen Interior (Cremona, private collection, formerly Astarita collection; cat. no. 6). In the wake of this attribution to Giovan Battista Recco lies another Kitchen Interior (Palermo, Galleria Regionale della Sicilia), lacking a monogram but stylistically very similar. Both of these pictures have swung between Giovan Battista Ruoppolo and G. B. Recco, the latter attribution being the most widely accepted today. The “kitchen table” group can also be expanded with the canvas (formerly?) in the Rappini collection in Rome, which has another form of signature, clearly distinguishable, and this time in script: “G. B. Recco / 1654” (Di Carpegna, 1961, p. 23, fig. 1). The compositions with fish or seafood seem to be the
Fig. 1 — Giovan Battista Recco, Kitchen Interior, private collection (formerly Bologna, private collection).
dominant subjects and would tend to confirm the short biographical note sent to Baldinucci. It was in 1961 that Di Carpegna published the dazzling composition with fish formerly in the Mendola collection in Catania which we have the good fortune to present here (cat. no. 5) – a fundamental work for understanding the style of this rare artist since it is signed and dated 1653. To this we may add a Basket of Oysters and Seafood (Rome, private collection) which according to Di Carpegna is fully signed and dated “1654” (1961, p. 123, fig. 3), and a composition with A Basket of Spiny Lobsters (private collection) published by Spike as signed “Gio. Batta. Recco” (1983, p. 133, no. 38), not to mention the grand, more Baroque (and thus later) composition in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Besançon signed “G. B. Recco”. Scholarship subsequently noted strong Hispanic elements in kitchen interiors of the kind seen in the unfortunately fragmentary canvas in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Aikema, 1997, p. 127, no. 142; fig. 2), formerly attributed to Velázquez, or in the celebrated Kitchen Interior with Goat’s Head in the Capodimonte Museum, Naples; a second work with this subject, also at Capodimonte, is now no longer believed to be by Giovan Battista but by Giuseppe Recco (see most recently La Marca, in Phoenix, 2006-2007, p. 130). These expansive kitchen interiors are true masterpieces and may be considered rivals of the bodegones by Velázquez, who passed through Naples in 1630 before returning to Spain in early 1631. While some have thought that Giovan Battista Recco could have been trained in Spain – could he have had direct knowledge of the still lifes of Alejandro de Loarte, Sánchez Cotán or Van der Hamen? – it is more reasonable to suppose, as Causa pointed out (1972), that there could have been contact with Spanish painters resident in Naples; but the absence of relevant references in inventories is surprising and casts doubts on the impact of Spanish
Fig. 2 — Giovan Battista Recco, Pantry with Chicken and Eggs, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum.
still life paintings on Neapolitan ones. While considering reality through an Iberian lens, Giovan Battista Recco’s art is exploratory and innovative; his Neapolitan naturalism is defined by strong contrasts of light, compositions that are often abundant, and occasionally built around a single subjects, as in the two pictures with a Basket of Seafood (Rome, private collection; Switzerland, private collection; cat. no. 4). The artist thus paved the way for an essential, powerful form of Neapolitan still life which was to have a lasting influence on Giuseppe Recco and the early period of Giovan Battista Ruoppolo. Considering the updated information on his oeuvre, we can say that Giovan Battista Recco still remains the most problematic figure in this context, and the one about whom there is still the most to discover. vronique damian
Giovan Battista Recco 2. Spiny Lobster, Spider Crab, Stemmed Platter
with Crabs, and Tortoise with Eggs oil on canvas, 23 ⁵/₁₆ × 30 in ₍59.2 × 76.2 cm₎ modena, private collection
literature. Middione, in Munich, 2002-2003, pp. 196-197; Middione, in Florence, 2003, pp. 200-201; Fumagalli, 2003, pp. 820-821, fig. 68 and cover illustration. exhibitions. Munich, 2002-2003, pp. 196-197; Florence, 2003, pp. 200201.
The painter’s search for expression achieves sensational results in this picture. The lobster is presented along the entire length of the canvas, perfectly united with the block of stone that supports it, a compositional expedient allowing the main subject to be moved up to eye level. This pictorial find enables the painter to project the legs into the foreground, but without touching the ledge, as indicated by the cast shadows that streak the stone and convey an illusion of forward movement. The surprising face-to-face placement of crustacean and tortoise introduces a dialogue between still life – natura morta – and “natura viva”, something rarely explored in this genre. There is also an admirable balance between solids and voids, the latter awoken from their darkness by the luminous white of the tortoise eggs and upsidedown crabs. No superfluous details disturb this still life
Fig. 1 — Giovan Battista Recco, Basket of Lobsters and Fish, private collection.
“in posa”, not even the platter, summarily described with a few brushstrokes of white pigment. Light is made to pause on each one of these motifs and catch their individual qualities, without lingering too long. This spectacular painting was first catalogued as by Giovan Battista Recco by Lattuada when it was offered for sale in Rome (Christie’s, 4 December 1991, lot 40) and scholars have agreed on the attribution. Middione, writing in the Munich-Florence exhibition catalogue (2002-2003), described the work’s exceptional quality, both formal and aesthetic, which reminded him of Velázquez, and ascribed it to Recco’s maturity in the 1650s. Reviewing this exhibition for The Burlington Magazine, Fumagalli noted the innovative aspect of such a compositon within the painter’s oeuvre. Indeed the painting appears to be unique of its kind, and one wonders whether it precedes the painting formerly in the Mendola collection in Catania (cat. no. 5), as Giuseppe de Vito has suggested to us; or (bearing in mind Middione’s chronology) could it have been painted after the dense, multi-level composition in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Besançon? Given the true lack of documentation on this artist, dating Recco’s works is a delicate matter, but we feel an early date – in any case prior to 1650 – is appropriate here. The stylistic comparison suggested by Middione with the two canvases published as Giovan Battista Recco by Salerno (1984, p. 119, figs. 29.6, 29.7) is worthy of consideration. Indeed the first of these two, presented here (cat. no. 20) should be reattributed to Giuseppe Recco. We regret not being able to exhibit the second, a Basket of Lobsters and Fish (private collection; fig. 1), which as Spike pointed out (in New York-Tulsa-Dayton, 1983, p. 133, no. 38) is signed “Gio. Batta. Recco”; a comparison with the voluminous lobster before us would have been highly instructive. This sparse composition underlines how the artist treated the subject in a spirit of description rather than accumulation, which is evidence of a new approach when compared with the other signed works we have by him. The painting reveals Giovan Battista Recco pushing his exploration of still life to the limits and yet succeeding in presenting us with a rare moment of painterly equilibrium. vronique damian
Giovan Battista Recco 3. Still Life with Ray, Eel, Copper Cauldron
with Artichokes, and Majolica Bowl oil on canvas, 35 ¹³/₁₆ × 47 ¼ in ₍91 × 120 cm₎ private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎ A large, chipped block of kitchen stone supports a number of objects. On the left, we see a capacious copper pot overloaded with garden vegetables, including artichokes, which threaten to upset it; just below, an overturned ray reveals its sharp teeth near some red mullets and a couple of eels trying to escape. In the centre, behind some mackerel still showing signs of life, sits a second container and another eel caught in motion. On the right, a white majolica bowl with simple blue decoration, of the kind used for washing up, is seen under three large fish hanging from hooks, the middle one (a dentex or sea bream) resting on the upturned bowl and thus functioning as a significant scenic element. The artist’s specific interest in shadows – both ordinary and deliberately created ones – is evident, and indeed the position of the bowl allows him to show off the unusual curved shadow of the hanging fish, a singular way of creating a successful pictorial effect. The objects are arranged as if on a proscenium, as in the canvas with a large lobster seeking to beach itself (cat. no. 2), and here too brown is the principal tonality, with few other colours, and thinly-applied pigment. The
painting captures a certain moment – that is, a presentation of an actual kitchen scene rather than a depiction of accumulated objects – as in the surviving lobster among the dead fish, reflecting traces of the Caravaggesque culture that persisted in Naples into the 1640s. The apperarance of a live turkey disturbing the peace of various objects on a table (private collection, formerly in Bologna) is a further example of the artist seeking to enliven the scene, and another painting presented here (cat. no. 4), with an unusually large oyster – the mollusc placed centrally, its opalescent shell open like a frame – implicitly draws the viewer’s attention to an exceptional discovery. From a scholarly standpoint, one should not fail to point out that the peculiar composition of the lobster in motion and the present painting do not share the character of Recco’s securely signed and dated works, thus leaving ample room for debate. The shift from one mode of representation to another cannot simply be defined through a system of pictorial signs, and it need not necessarily include elements of the earlier mode; in other words, a new style need not represent the evolution of an older one. giuseppe de vito
Giovan Battista Recco 4. Basket of Oysters, Scallops, Sea Urchins,
and Razor Clams on a Stone Ledge oil on canvas, 16 ½ × 27 ½ in ₍42 × 70 cm₎ switzerland, private collection
literature. Klemm, in AarauWuppertal-Dresden-ViennaLausanne, 1996-1997, pp. 14-15. exhibitions. Aarau-WuppertalDresden-Vienna-Lausanne, 19961997, pp. 14-15.
This painting entered the artist’s catalogue when it was published by Klemm (1996-1997), supported by the favourable opinion of Bergström, who had noted the “power” of the composition. A shallow basket stands out against a dark background and sits firmly on a block of stone that acts as a table, barely touched by a soft ray, imaginable as evening light; this compositional expedient resembles the one used in the Spiny Lobster, Spider Crab, Stemmed Platter with Crabs, and Tortoise with Eggs (cat. no. 2). The artist uses the white mother-of-pearl settings of the seafood to emphasise the effects of moisture, and even the seaweed – peripheral to the main subject – partakes of these sparkling touches of white, its subtle
Fig. 1 — Giovan Battista Recco, Fish and Dish of Oysters, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum.
reflections enlivening and lighting up the horizontal ledge that supports the basket packed with razor clams. The eye takes in delectable oysters, scallops, and sea urchins, ready to be tasted – a true gourmet’s delight, presented within the viewer’s reach, and depicted in tonalities related to acquatic transparency, moving from greys and browns to the orange-reds of the sea urchins. The subject was a familiar one in the art of Giovan Battista Recco, as may be seen in a painting in Stockholm, monogrammed “GBR.” and dated 1653 (fig. 1), and in another the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Besançon, signed “G.B. Recco”. Both these pictures feature a basket of assorted seafood on the left, placed on a ledge. According to Di Carpegna, another painting with a basket of seafood, which almost exactly replicates the one in the Stockholm picture, was in a Roman private collection when it was published (1961, pp. 123, 125, fig. 3; see also De Logu, 1962, pp. 135, 193). We shall have to take on trust De Logu’s statement that it was signed in full and dated 1654. Here, the painter shows his skill in creating new variations of the same theme, with an added touch of melancholy, principally created by the use of light. Once again, we are astonished by Recco’s ability to make a presentation of a single, quiet subject (which may be considered as contrasting with louder images such as the one in Besançon) without losing any of its fine realism. For this reason one can date the painting to the 1650s, not far from the dated examples cited above. vronique damian
Giovan Battista Recco 5. Fish, Spiny Lobster, Squid, and Spider Crab
on a Stone Ledge oil on canvas, 40 ³/₁₆ × 50 ⁹/₁₆ in ₍102 × 128.5 cm₎ signed and dated on the wooden strut at upper right: “gio. batta recco / 1653” private collection
literature. Bottari, 1961, p. 354, fig. 157a; De Logu, 1962, p. 135; Causa, in Naples-Zurich-Rotterdam, 19641965, p. 49, no. 74, fig. 32a; Causa, 1972, pp. 1013-1014, fig. 388; Rosci, 1977, p. 104, 209; Middione, in London-Washington, 1982, p. 219; Middione, in Paris, 1983, pp. 250251; Ruotolo, in Turin, 1983, p. 128; Salerno, 1984, p. 114; Spinosa, 1984a, pl. 608; Middione, in Naples, 19841985, pp. 170, 388 under no. 2.182; Middione, 1989a, p. 890, fig. 1070; Daprà, in Strasbourg-Bordeaux, 1994, p. 136; Cherry, 1999, pp. 234-235, fig. 168; De Vito, 2000, pp. 26-27, figs. VIII-IX; Middione, in Munich, 2002-2003, p. 474; Middione, in Florence, 2003, p. 492. exhibitions. Naples-ZurichRotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 49, no. 74, fig. 32a.
Signed and dated 1653 on the wooden strut at upper right, this superb composition (formerly Catania, Mendola collection) has been a key work since 1961, when scholars began to establish a corpus of Recco’s work, which had no secure basis until then. Although abbreviated in form, the presence of the double forename “Gio. Batta” rules out any confusion with another member of the Recco family, Giuseppe, who was nineteen when this masterpiece was painted. More significantly, the date reveals the painter’s stylistic maturity in the middle years of the century, as well as showing how marine still lifes had become a powerfully expressive element of Neapolitan painting. The description of fish and other marine creatures had by now freed itself entirely from reference
Fig. 1 — Giovan Battista Recco, Fish and Oysters, Besançon, Musée des Beaux-Arts.
to scientific watercolour illustrations of the kind conceived by Jacopo Ligozzi (1547-1627) in Florence, in response to the naturalist interests of Francesco I de’ Medici; this is also demonstrated in the present exhibition by one of the earliest marine still lifes of the Neapolitan School, a depiction of Mullet, Scorpion Fish, Weever, two Shells and a Medallion (cat. no. 8). Here, a linear, static approach has given way to a lively, varied arrangement that exploits the forms and colours of each species, and light has the essential role of both providing emphasis and conveying splendour, only touching the fish and leaving the dark background as a foil for the reflections of viscous skin and sparkling scales. The play of levels and the hook and rope hanging from the wooden strut set into the wall that unexpectedly closes off the composition on the right are all pretexts for filling the pictorial space; the artist succeeds in rejecting any monotony while offering a feast for the eye as the viewer gradually explores this clever heap of objects. No fish is repeated, and the specific shape of each one fits perfectly over the edge of a copper container, connects the different compositional levels, or fills an empty penumbral space with silvery reflections. The strong touch of naturalism makes for emphatic cast shadows, especially on the edge of the surface in the foreground and on the wall on the right. Within the focused scope of a marine still life, Giovan Battista Recco offers us a comfortable format and painstaking composition, the blue-greys tones of the fish warmed only by the browns of the copper container and broad-weave basket. An even more ambitious format, vertical this time, was used by him for another masterpiece of this kind, also signed, although less dramatic and more Baroque in spirit (Besançon, Musée des Beaux-Arts; fig. 1) – a work that expands the traditional display of fish and seafood by the innovative addition of a bright marine landscape, quite unlike his earlier inventions which all have dark backgrounds. This splendid and ambitious depiction of fish and crustaceans is a keystone for the oeuvre of this artist, whose career beyond the 1650s remains sadly mysterious. vronique damian
Giovan Battista Recco 6. Kitchen Interior oil on canvas, 57 ⁷/₈ × 76 ¾ in ₍147 × 195 cm₎ initialled “g.b.r.” on the edge of the plate at lower left cremona, private collection
literature. Di Carpegna, 1961, pp. 123-124, fig. 2; De Logu, 1962, pp. 135-136, fig. 83; Causa, in NaplesZurich-Rotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 49, no. 76, fig. 32a; Causa, 1972, pp. 10121014, fig. 386; Rosci, 1977, p. 104, 209; Middione, in London-Washington, 1982, p. 219; Middione, in Paris, 1983, p. 251; Ruotolo, in Turin, 1983, p. 128; Spinosa, 1984a, fig. 603; Salerno, 1984, pp. 222-223, fig. 53.3 (as G.B. Ruoppolo); Middione, in Naples, 1984-1985, p. 170; Middione, 1989a, p. 890; Guttilla, in Palermo, 1990, p. 134, under no. 18; Jordan, in London, 1995, pp. 87, 91, fig. 65 (as G.B. Ruoppolo); Middione, in Munich, 2002-2003, p. 474; Paliaga, in Munich, 2002-2003, p. 393; Middione, in Florence, 2003, p. 492; Paliaga, in Florence, 2003, p. 389. exhibitions. Naples-ZurichRotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 49, no. 76, fig. 32a.
This abundant image of a kitchen interior was first published in 1961, as was the canvas in the Mendola collection in Catania (cat. no. 5), and like that work it has never been seen in public since the 1964-1965 exhibition of Italian still life painting; it belonged at that time to the Astarita collection in Naples and is cited thus in subsequent publications. The painting has never ceased to challenge scholars, since the initials “G.B.R.” – clearly legible on the edge of the white plate placed on the floor at left – corresponds to the names of at least two artists who were specialists in this genre, Giovan Battista Recco and Giovan Battista Ruoppolo (1629-1693). Di Carpegna immediately identified the author as Giovan Battista Recco by comparison with the painting of a table laden with food then in the Rappini collection in Rome, clearly signed by the artist and dated 1654. This proposal was accepted by Causa (1964, 1972) and by most recent scholars, except for Jordan (1995), who took up Salerno’s attribution to Giovan Battista Ruoppolo (1984). The Neapolitan historian had rightly detected a poetic sensibility in the painting that differed from Recco’s art, as seen in the latter’s Pantry Interior (formerly in Bologna, now in a private collection) or that in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. We are touching here on the “enigma of dating” alluded to by Causa in his discussion of Giovan Battista Recco’s scenes of kitchen interiors, but we can only share some of his conclusions. If the two scenes we have just mentioned – still archaic in their mode of single-level presentation (a table) – may be dated to the years between
Fig. 1 — Giovan Battista Recco, Pantry Interior, Palermo, Galleria Regionale della Sicilia.
1640 and 1650, it seems impossible to accept a similar date for the present painting. Its piled-up aspect has a Baroque flavour and the multi-level jumble of objects fails to follow any hierarchy: meat and vegetables, copper containers, and the fish and plate of squid neglectfully set on the floor in the foreground, not to mention the swift evocation of Neapolitan fragrance in the two citrons at left. The wooden press, as denoted by the two large screws, and the long knife (its handle resting on the ground after being used to slice an eel) are there as more direct evocations of human activity. The dating of the picture to the “mid-seventeenth century”, as suggested by Jordan, who believed the work was by Ruoppolo, seems not to take into account the artist’s age around 1650 – that is, about twenty years old. Could such an accomplished painting, both in project and form, have come from such a young man? Or in other words, can this work be dated to those years? Judging from our current knowledge, we cannot say yes to either of these questions, and it seems prudent to attribute it to Giovan Battista Recco as a work of the 1660s, as already implied by Di Carpegna (1961) who noted its close resemblance to secure works by Giuseppe Recco, and especially to the Kitchen Interior in Vienna, dated 1675. We say this in spite of the hypothetical nature of the late period of our painter, whose death date remains undocumented and by whom no paintings are known after 1654. Scholars have supposed that this last phase, which needs to be completely reconstructed, saw Recco’s assimilation of Northern influences – certainly present in Naples – in his choice of subjects. This stifling disorder, calculated to make the eye wander, includes a drawing on the extreme left. This ultimate indication of privilege represents a goddess taking a little cherub by the hand (perhaps a Venus and Cupid) – but what was its function? Should we interpret it as a sort of elegant wink on the part of the artist, who has placed it among this foodstuff to better underline its perishable nature, while art – on the contrary – is there to observe and capture the beauty and profusion of nature, so quick to satisfy our needs? Our uncertain interpretation of the initials leads to another question, that of the Pantry Interior in the Galleria Regionale, Palermo (which lacks any inscription), now also accepted as by Giovan Battista Recco (fig. 1). vronique damian
Paolo Porpora naples, 1617 rome, 1673 Paolo Porpora is one of the best-documented figures in the world of Nerapolitan still life painting of the seventeenth century, and is unique in having spent his career – except for the first ten years – entirely in Rome. Considered alone, he could suffice as an illustration of the cultural exchanges between Rome and Naples, two cities that were highly prolific for the history of the genre, and the focus of recent scholarship (Laureati – Trezzani, 1989, pp. 732-736; Bocchi, 2005, pp. 337-355; Cottino, 2007a, no. 683, pp. 3-10; Cottino, 2007b, pp. 74-75). His success in Rome was swift and is documented as early as 1666, when an inventory of the Chigi palace at Santi Apostoli records two of his works prominently near those of Giovanni Stanchi (1608-c. 1673) and two Vases of Flowers by Mario Nuzzi (1603-1673). However, before arriving in the Eternal City in the late 1640s, Paolo was not only fully trained in Naples but had had the time to train Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, if his biographer De Dominici is to be believed; he also produced works described as “maravigliose” which guaranteed his fame beyond the Kingdom of Naples and led him to be called to Rome – still according to De Dominici – by “non so qual signore romano” who remains unidentified today. We may assess his period of study in Naples thanks above all to publication by Prota-Giurleo (1953, pp. 1213, though already noted by Causa, 1951, p. 32, note 2) of his contract of apprenticeship, dated 2 November 1632, with the painter Giacomo Recco; like Giovan Battista Recco, the latter is not mentioned in the Vite by Bernardo De Dominici, and reconstructing his oeuvre is still a challenge for modern scholarship. The contract bears a precious reference to Paolo’s age – he was fifteen when he signed it – which would tell us he was born in 1617, and it states the apprenticeship was to last three years. But as Elena Fumagalli points out (De Dominici, ed. Sricchia Santoro – Zezza, vol. II, forthcoming), the Roman Stati d’anime census of 1650 states he was twenty-eight,
implying he was born in 1622, and if this were the case, he would have been apprenticed to Giacomo Recco at the age of ten rather than fifteen (Wiedmann, 1986, p. 254). We may believe he had left this workshop in 1635 to continue his studies in what was no doubt a more progressive vein with Aniello Falcone (1607-1656), where he was soon discouraged by his failure as painter of figures and battle scenes. He then concentrated on “fish, oysters, snails, whelks, and other shellfish”, as well as “lizards [lucerte], pigeons and kitchen items, with great truth to nature”, or “various kinds of animals [...] and fruit […], citrus fruits, chicken, fowl and other foodstuffs”, in which – on the contrary – he excelled (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, pp. 80, 293). In the Vita of Massimo Stanzione, the biographer presents the painter as entirely integrated in the Neapolitan art scene, capable of holding discourses (with proof in hand, since he owned manuscripts provided by a painter friend) about the origin of oil painting in Italy with the noble amateur Don Angelo Pepe (De Dominici, ibid., p. 61). It is regrettable that nothing mentioned by his biographer has come down to us as evidence of his early output, the result of a busy ten years in Naples. De Vito (1999) has rightly noted the lack of flower paintings by the artist, an area in which he made his mark in Rome, as we know from his only known signed picture, a large Bouquet painted for Cardinal Chigi (formerly Rome, Chigi collection; see Causa, 1951, fig. 21), no doubt to rival the works of Mario Nuzzi and the Stanchi brothers (Bocchi, 2005, pp. 337-355). Basing himself on the notion of early Porpora as painter of fish and shellfish, De Vito has recently suggested his authorship for a number of works including the sparse, single-level composition exhibited here (cat. no. 8). Causa (1951) had first imagined Porpora’s initial style as strictly Caravaggesque, and attributed to him the famous picture by the Maestro di Palazzo San Gervasio (presented as such by Volpe during the 1964-1965 exhibition), but
Fig. 1 — Paolo Porpora, Flowers and a Sculpted Relief, Valence, Musée des
Fig. 2 — Paolo Porpora, Flowers, Fruit and a Bird, Valence, Musée des
subsequently withdrew his opinion (1972, pp. 1010-1011), leaving the enigmatic canvas in the limbo of anonymity it inhabits to this day. In any case, it seems that Porpora arrived in Rome just before 1650, the year he is recorded as resident in the via Margutta, where Pietro Del Po and his family also lived. Not far from there, in the via del Babuino, lived the Neapolitan sculptor Cosimo Fanzago. Despite his sometimes inventive approach to biography, De Dominici is accurate about Porpora joining the Accademia di San Luca in 1656, a statement confirmed by the archives of the academy under the date 25 April 1656 (Fumagalli, in De Dominici, ed. Sricchia Santoro – Zezza, vol. II, forthcoming). A number of other biographical documents have been published by Ceci (1933, p. 273) and added to by Spike (1983, p. 83), who notes that the painter was already frequenting the academy in 1655 before being officially admitted. Further documents record his marriage in Rome in 1654 to Anna de Amicis of Palermo, and – notably – his admission to the Virtuosi del Pantheon in 1666, which tells us much about the esteem in which he was held. He died a few years later, in 1673, still relatively young. If the mysterious and sometimes cruel world of the forest floor appears to have had a particular appeal for him, he must have felt stimulated by the presence in Rome of the Northern painters Matthias Withoos (there from 1648 to 1652) and Marseus van Schriek (1652). The artist probably developed further under the impetus of new trends in Roman collecting, as proved by the Bouquet of Flowers painted for Cardinal Flavio Chigi. But the evolution of the forest floor genre had its origins in the scientific and naturalist studies of the time, which took concrete form in the so-called museums of natural and artificial curiosities. As Pagano reminds us, Bellori (1672) describes the collections of the Cavaliere Corvini, Antonio degli Effetti, Antonio Magnini, Niccolò Simonelli,
and above all Cardinal Flavio Chigi, nephew of Pope Alexander VII, whose palace at the Quattro Fontane was full of rare and precious objects, but also of natural curiosities, the latter of the kind found in the paintings he owned by Porpora and Marseus (Laureati – Trezzani, 1989, pp. 730-731). The artist’s Roman corpus as proposed in 1989 by Tecce (1989b, pp. 893-899) has been increased (De Vito 1999, pp. 18-42; Bocchi, 2005, pp. 337-355; Cottino, 2007a, pp. 74-75). While his first Roman years saw the painting of forest floor pictures (Naples, Museo Diego Aragona Pignatelli; Cardiff, National Museum of Wales; Paris, Musée du Louvre) and the Flowers, Fruit and Birds in the Museo di Capodimonte, the artist developed the theme under the influence of the Roman school. Gradually, he combined it with ambitious bouquets placed at ground level and opening onto a landscape, worthy of the finest Roman Baroque style. While remaining faithful to a naturalist approach that favoured brownish atmospheric effects, brilliant and varied flower colours, orange gourd tonalities, and the transparent nuances of drops of water and crystal vases, Porpora shows his great talent in the two pairs of pendants in the Di Capua collection in Turin (cat. no. 12) and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Valence (figs. 1 and 2). vronique damian
Paolo Porpora (attr.) 7. Still life with Fish and Crustaceans oil on canvas, 39 ¾ x 49 ⁵/₈ in ₍101 × 126 cm₎ private collection
A rich variety of fish is displayed on rocks arranged on different levels before a dark background cleft by light coming from the left, in obvious homage to Caravaggio. The composition is organized along vertical and horizontal axes, and its focal point is the huge lobster in the foreground, balanced by the large hanging grey mullet accompanied by two scorpion fish. A sea bream is depicted at lower right; oysters, shells, and sea urchins lie in the background at left. The overall brown tonality is highlighted by streaks of red on the antennae of the lobster, the scales of the scorpion fish and the shells of the urchins, complemented by the silvery tones of the mullet and bream. The painting is datable to the late 1640s and recalls Paolo Porpora’s style in the manner of representing the shell of the lobster and the scales of the fish. The setting itself, a dark, mysterious cavern, recalls the dewy, romantic forest floors ascribable to Porpora’s period in Rome, where he made his career as flower painter. Porpora’s usual subject repertory consisted of collections of flowers and frogs, snails, and small wet stones, inspired by Marseus, Withoos and van Aelst. But it was also in Rome that he created works such as the privately-owned Fish, Reptiles, Amphibians, Flowers, Mushrooms, Stones, Shells, Snails, and Butterflies (Bocchi, 2005, p.351, fig. PP.12). Porpora’s activity during his Neapolitan period, after his apprenticeship with Giuseppe Recco and time spent in Falcone’s workshop, is still largely unresearched. This still life may be included in a group of paintings
ascribed to Porpora by De Vito, who suggests they form a central point of departure for subsequent works by Giovan Battista Ruoppolo and the Reccos (De Vito, 1999, pp. 18-42). De Vito believes that one phase of Porpora’s career was spent on naturalistic representations of fish, for two reasons: the first is the painter’s early apprenticeship with Giuseppe Recco, who is mentioned by early sources as a painter of fish; secondly, he relies on De Dominici, who informs us of Porpora’s efforts “to paint fish, oysters, snails, whelks, and other shellfish [..] having left off the painting of battles, he devoted himself to the representation of various kinds of animals, excelling at fish and different types of fruits, and other sea creatures, while continuing to paint fruit, citrus, poultry and fowl, and other foods” (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, pp. 80, 293). This painting must be viewed in the context of the enormous production of still lifes in this period, confirmed by the many genre paintings in Viceregal and aristocratic collections as well as those of the emerging middle class, whose mercantile and entrepreneurial interests led them to affirm their own social status through the acquisition of art. However, the generic nature of available inventories does not often allow us to assign specific painters’ names to these subjects; by the same token, the activity of the genre painters referred to in archival documents (e.g. Ambrosiello Russo, Antonio Mariano or Carlo Turcopella) cannot always be correlated to the paintings, mostly unsigned, that have come down to us. denise maria pagano
Paolo Porpora 8. Still Life with Mullet, Scorpion Fish, Weever,
two Shells and a Medallion oil on canvas, 18 ⁷/₈ × 29 ¹/₈ in ₍48 × 74 cm₎ private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎
literature. Causa, in NaplesZurich-Rotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 52, no. 83 bis (as G. B. Ruoppolo; not illus.); Kiel, 1965, p. 69 (illus. as G. B. Ruoppolo); De Vito, , pp. 18-42, fig. XIII (as Paolo Porpora); Damian, 2006, pp. 34-37. exhibitions. Naples-ZurichRotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 52, no. 83 bis (as G. B. Ruoppolo; not illus.).
In his introduction to this catalogue, and developing an article of 2005 in the journal of the University of Naples, Leone de Castris recalls that our knowledge of the origins and earliest examples of the Neapolitan still life genre is weakened by sizable gaps, despite remarkable progress in this field since the early 1950s. Documents concerning the period from 1610-1630 are rare, and while evidence of painters’ contact with Caravaggesque pictures (including Roman works) or Northern ones may be authentic, it must be defined more accurately. It was probably in this period that the painting before us was made, as indicated by its archaic style; it is certainly one of the first still lifes with fish from the Neapolitan School, datable to the 1630s. Causa presented the picture (at that time in the Pisani collection in Naples) in the still life exhibition of 1964-1965 as by Giovan Battista Ruoppolo (1629-1693), by comparison with the signed painting of Fish in the Museo di San Martino, Naples, and dated it to about 1653. De Vito (1999) subsequently admitted it to the corpus of Paolo Porpora, citing stylistic evidence and its resonance with an “iperspecializzazione dei pesci” – a genre in which Porpora was considered a pioneer. The artist’s specialisation in this area was well documented by his biographer De Dominici, who underlines the point in the Life of Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, stating that Porpora painted fish to perfection (1742-1745, III, pp. 80, 293). With its straightforward presentation of objects, this composition still conveys traces of naturalist woodcuts, accentuated by the artist’s choice of a frontal, linear narration, similar in spirit to the work of the Florentine Jacopo Ligozzi (1547-1627), where each fish is described in specific detail. Earlier examples of this genre can be found in the Roman painter Antonio Tanari – more naïve in character – whose work was collected by Cardinal Carlo de’ Medici, and one of whose large fish pictures arrived in Florence in 1619 (now in the study collection
of the Florence Galleries; see Fumagalli, 1995-1996, pp. 5, 67-73; Fumagalli, 1997, pp. 45-55; Gregori, 2006). In Naples, the approach was completely different, owing to the city’s direct access to the sea, which offered a varied, genuine repertoire of fishmongers’ displays. Paolo Porpora’s apprenticeship from 1632 with the still life painter Giacomo Recco (1603 - before 1653), and – according to De Dominici – his subsequent schooling with Aniello Falcone (1607-1656) gave him a sensitivity to painting dal vero. Three fish and two seashells, selected for their variety of shape and colour, are depicted on a ledge. By all appearances this is a carefully composed still life, its marine theme enriched by the presence of seaweed and a scrap of netting on the larger shell, as well as by the circular medallion of an apparent dolphin in the background. Painting against a dark background – further evidence of naturalism – accentuates the contrasts between vivid colours, and the central reds, blues, yellows and greys, laid on directly with the tip of the brush, seem like pearls of colour applied to a carefully applied foundation. Porpora’s style is typified by his treatment of light, the azure droplets of water clearly visible on the scorpion fish combining with the moisture of the shell (as suggested by the shiny mother-of-pearl) and the silvery gleam of the fish; this can also be seen in the large display of shells in the Lodi collection in Campione d’Italia, as well as more generally in the shells that regularly appear in the foregrounds of his forest floor scenes. Although no inventory reference or signed and dated piece has for now come to light to document Porpora’s work in Naples before his departure for Rome in the middle of the century, this one-of-a kind still life may bear witness to his beginnings and help reconstruct his early years, prior to the larger, more decorative pieces of his Roman period. vronique damian
Paolo Porpora 9. Still Life with Mushrooms, Frogs, Lizards, and Snakes
Still Life with Crab, Butterflies, Toads, Shells and Tortoise oil on canvas, 14 ³/₁₆ × 25 ³/₁₆ in ₍36 × 64 cm₎ each naples, museo diego aragona pignatelli cortes ₍intesa sanpaolo collection₎
literature. Causa, 1951, p. 35; Molajoli, 1953, p. 46; De Logu, 1962, p. 125; Causa, in Naples-ZurichRotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 44; Rosci, 1971, p. 11, no. 29; Causa, 1972, p. 1010, figs. 381-382; Spinosa, 1984a, figs. 551-552; Salerno, 1984, p. 202, fig. 50.8; Tecce, 1984, pp. 66-69; Tecce, in Naples, 1984-1985, I, pp. 364-368; Laureati – Trezzani, 1989, pp. 730-731; Tecce, in Naples, 1989, pp. 42-45; Spinosa – Tecce, 1998, pp. 19, 34; Pagano, in Munich, 2002, p. 193; Pagano, in Florence, 2003, p. 198; Scarpa, 2004a, pp. 122-123; Scarpa, in Phoenix, 2006-2007, pp. 126-127. exhibitions. Naples-ZurichRotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 44; Naples, 1984-1985, pp. 364-368; Naples, 1989, pp. 42-45; Munich, 2002, p. 193; Florence, 2003, p. 198; Phoenix, 20062007, pp. 126-127.
The two paintings were formerly in the collections of the Antico Monte di Pietà; no earlier provenance has yet been found.The attribution to Porpora was made by Causa in 1951 and this was supported by Molajoli (1953), De Logu (1962) and Rosci (1971). Causa wrote that as regarded these subjects “non si può parlare di vera e propria natura morta, quanto di un divertissement tra pittorico e naturalistico, nel quale gli elementi costitutivi della pittura di genere sono rielaborati in nuove cadenze di suggestione romantica, sempre più dipendenti dalla pittura nordica” (Naples-Zurich-Rotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 44). This pair of small canvases marks Porpora’s contact with the Dutch painters Otto Marseus van Schrieck and Matthias Withoos. The similarities of these kinds of compositions with those by Marseus are so close that some of the Neapolitan’s work has traditionally been given to the Dutchman. When he returned to his property at Waterryck, near Amsterdam, Marseus dedicated himself to cultivating plants and raising insects and reptiles which he used as models for his paintings (Grimm, 1977, p. 201). Before being correctly given to Porpora, the two canvases in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Quimper (Brejon de Lavergnée – Volle, 1988, p. 261) were ascribed to Marseus. Datable to the artist’s earliest years in Rome, these paintings display close parallels to foreign models and share a curiosity for nature and the vegetable world, as they do for a faithful representation of forest fauna. Snails, snakes, frogs, and toads are depicted with heightened vitality and such a variety of invention that they almost evoke a proto-Romantic mood. Porpora’s initial training as a naturalist painter enabled him to go beyond Marseus’ illustrative qualities and contrast the Northener’s cold, crystalline light with compositions animated by powerful contrasts of light and shade, ultimately descended from Caravaggio. His investigation of light creates intensely atmospheric effects and conveys a sensual illusion of matter, ranging from the slimy skin of the frogs to the hard shells of the crab and tortoise, and from the fragility of the butterfly
wings to the shiny pebbles in the rivulet of water. The same world of minutely-described animals and insects, mushrooms and vegetable matter recurs in the Forest Floor with Snake, Lizard, Tortoise and Butterflies in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, contemporary with the two paintings before us and related to them in dimensions, horizontal composition and elements of subject-matter – tortoise, toad with a butterfly in its mouth, lizard, and open-jawed snake. Other similarities exist, such as the depiction of a plant with large, thick leaves and the clear water of the stream, through which polished pebbles are visible. This rarefied, almost troubling vision of natural reality seen through an unusually fascinating and poetic lens also connects our two pictures with those in the Bonello collection in Malta, in the Camillo Guerra collection in Naples (Tecce, in Naples, 1984-1985, I, p. 366, no. 2.165), and with the canvas in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy. Subsequently, Porpora’s compositions were more airy and contained greater decorative effects, as in the Forest Floor with Rock, Birds, Mushrooms, Flowers, Snakes, Shells and Seaweed in a Milanese private collection (Laureati – Trezzani, 1989, p. 730, ill. 868), and the two tele di imperatore commissioned by Cardinale Chigi in 1661 with “una marina con due tartarughe di mare con un pappagallo e fiori” and a “coccodrillo con lepre, tartaruga, due pappagalli e fiori”, one of which is owned by the Chigi heirs. A later phase and larger format is defined by the Forest Floor with Quails, Owl and White Wader Bird in the Louvre, which has a new, inventive quality, although it is hard to perceive (as De Mirimonde did in 1970, pp. 145154, no. 3) possible philosophical allegories and individual symbols of the soul, death, love, sin, and salvation. It would indeed be rash to interpret these works by Porpora as Vanitas paintings. Angela Tecce has suggested, more plausibly, that the recondite meanings and sophisticated symbolism of such subjects vanish once we consider that Italian artists selected the items they painted as repertories of the curious and strange, and for exclusively compositional purposes. denise maria pagano
Paolo Porpora 10. Cabbage Roses, Shells, Tortoises, and Butterfly in a Landscape oil on canvas, 28 ¾ × 51 ³/₁₆ in ₍73 × 130 cm₎ private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎
The centre of the canvas is dominated by a bush of cabbage roses (rosa centifolia). In the foreground, near a pool of water – its presence implied by the play of reflected light on the bank –some shells are lit, still humid, by the last rays of sunshine. A tortoise moves forward, while another, probably aquatic, is also drawn to the water. A nocturnal butterfly poised on a rose signals the day’s end, and a snake coils itself to attack a dragonfly. A calendula with stellate leaves closes off the scene at right. Roman inventories of the Chigi, Ludovisi, and Pallavicini families (Laureati – Trezzani, 1989, pp. 746-753) mention similar compositions by Paolo Porpora, probably painted at the start of his Roman sojourn, which began in about 1650. Our painter was in contact with Otto Marseus van Schrieck (c. 1619-1678), documented in the Eternal City between 1652 and 1653, and Matthias Withoos (16271703), who was in Italy from 1648 to 1652. Porpora shared their taste for the “forest floor” genre – half way between an almost scientific depiction of insects, amphibians, flowers and moss, and a true pictorial narration – and painted his first such pictures, although his canvases were distinct from those of the two Northerners for a more elaborate description of light (Causa, 1951, p. 36). Our picture reflects the artist’s maturity, well beyond his first attempts in this genre, and suggest a date between 1655 and 1660. Convincing parallels can be made with
Fig. 1 — Paolo Porpora, Forest Floor with Quails, Owl and White Wader Bird, Paris, Musée du Louvre.
the Forest Floor with Quails, Owl and White Wader Bird in the Louvre (fig. 1) or the Flowers, Fruits and Birds at Capodimonte, both marked by similar elements: carefully loose rhythms, a twilit atmosphere, and light that glazes the objects. In the paintings of forest floors, the representation of amphibians, reptiles, turtles and tortoises becomes a pretext for allegories of life and death, and for the expression of finality. The beautiful cabbage rose, described by the painter in voluptuous evening light, protects itself from herbivores with its multiple thorns; and though the butterfly and dragonfly are threatened by the snake, the latter could suddenly become the prey of a turtle. The painter’s gaze, like that of the scientist, is precise and analytical, but the cruelty of the animal and vegetable world recorded by him also leads one through a play of mirrors (not only a figurative one) into a contemplation of human destiny steeped in melancholy – just as the day’s end is melancholic. No less than roses and dragonflies, mankind is threatened by death. Within the confines of this composition, as in a cabinet of curiosities, science and imagination are connected so as to suggest the complex relationships between living beings. The roses depicted by the artist are in fact cultivated flowers and not a wild species growing by a pond – nor could seashells find themselves there were it not for the painter’s imagination. Yet all this is “real” and “well observed”, and respects the criteria of scientific analysis. These sorts of paintings became very successful in Rome, and Bellori notes the importance of these “curiosità artificiali e naturali” in the collection of Cardinal Chigi, for example, where botanical and zoological engravings were associated with natural curiosities, precious objects, petrified or stuffed animals and vegetables, and paintings (Laureati – Trezzani, 1989, pp. 730-731). Subjects such as “uva e animali, frutta e funghi” are sometimes mentioned in the inventories of Neapolitan nobles (Labrot, 1992, p. 548), but Porpora’s paintings were not numerous. The abundance of still lifes by Giuseppe Recco or Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, who rarely painted forest scenes, suggests that this kind of composition was in fact one of the prerogatives of Roman collectors. claudia salvi
Paolo Porpora 11. Flowers in a Terracotta Vase and Fruit oil on canvas, 28 ¾ × 39 ³/₈ in ₍73 × 100 cm₎ private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎
literature. Confalone, in MadridSalamanca, 2005, pp. 56-57, no. 23 exhibitions. Madrid-Salamanca, 2005, pp. 56-57, no. 23
Paolo Porpora was known as the author of striking Baroque floral compositions acquired in numerous quantities by the great families of Rome – “ivi fece cose bellissime”, said his biographer (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, p. 293) – but the simple type of bouquet presented here was rarely depicted by the Neapolitan painter. The juxtaposition of a vase full of prized flowers and its unexpected rock-hewn support, the off-centre position of the vase itself, the use of a dark background to accentuate a brilliant palette, and a nonchalant approach to flower arrangement, were all inventions of Mario Nuzzi, called Mario dei Fiori. This is clearly attested to in a series of overdoor paintings by the Roman painter, datable to the 1640s and probably sent to Spain, where the pictures were inventoried in the Palacio del Buen Retiro in Madrid; they now hang in the Prado, the Palacio Pedralbes in Barcelona, and the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See. Having traced the influence of Mario dei Fiori we should also note a more direct source of inspiration in Abraham Brueghel (1631-1697), initially active in Rome between 1663 and 1675, and then in Naples until his death. A number of elements here reflect an awareness of the Flemish painter’s Roman works, especially the canvases he painted in collaboration with Guillaume Courtois during
the 1670s (Laureati - Trezzani, 1989, p. 793, figs. 932-933): the terracotta vase with pod-shaped decoration, the fleshy, almost solid look of the flowers, their slightly crowded confusion, the painter’s virtuosity in handling the fruit, the priority given to red tonalities, and the voluptuous approach to light. The dynamic chiaroscuro that models the petals of what looks like a double set of white anemones under the tulip on the right is the same used by Porpora to depict the frayed peony petals in the Vase Decorated with Putti (Tecce, 1989b, p. 899, fig. 1083), and just as in that painting we see a festive exuberance of forms and colours. The leaves, characteristically spotted in various shades of green, are also typical of Porpora, and the same can be said of the elegantly ruffled and compactly described white roses, and of the guelder roses that slide off to the left, creating a diagonal of light that defines the whole composition, together with the roses and large silvery tulip above. The finest passage in the picture is that tulip, shown with Baroque sensibility as it starts to decay, yet without losing its objective presence as captured by the artist. The lesson of Caravaggio, seen through the lens of Mario dei Fiori, is here applied to flower painting and adopted by Porpora, another master of the genre. claudia salvi
Paolo Porpora 12. Flowers, Fruit, and Relief in a Landscape
Flowers, Fruit, Mushrooms, Fountain, and Birds in a Landscape oil on canvas, 63 × 74 ¹³/₁₆ in ₍160 × 190 cm₎ each turin, vittorio di capua collection
literature. Tecce, in LondonWashington, 1982, p. 205, nos. 96-97; Tecce, in Paris, 1983, p. 240, nos. 4950, fig. pp. 158, 240; Spinosa, 1984a, figs. 554-555; Tecce, in Naples, 1984, p. 367, nos. 2.166a-b, fig. p. 153; Tecce, 1989c, pp. 893, 897, fig. 1079; Pagano, in Munich, 2002-2003, p. 474; Pagano, in Florence, 2003, p. 492; Bocchi, 2005, pp. 350, 355, note 18; Pagano, in Madrid-Salamanca, 2005, p. 57, under no. 23. exhibitions. Turin, 1975, pp. 3435; London-Washington, 1982-1983, pp. 204-205, nos. 96-97; Paris, 1983, p. 240, nos. 49-50; Turin, 1983, p. 79, figs. 60-61; Naples, 1984, p. 367, nos. 2.166a-b, fig. p. 153.
These ambitious compositions have been a rich addition to the corpus of Paolo Porpora, and unanimously accepted as such, since they appeared in 1975 at the Caretto Gallery in Turin. At the time a brief catalogue entry dated them to the period 1640-1650, contrasting sharply with the later dating proposed by more recent scholarship. While they have always been compared to the pendants in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Valence (identified and published by Causa, 1972, p. 1011), can we be sure that they were indeed painted so late, around 1660? Studying the present pair of works, one cannot help seeing connections, even if only subtle ones, with the famous Still Life by the Master of the Palazzo San Gervasio, presented by Volpe in the 1964-1965 exhibition as an early work by Porpora. Volpe was following Causa (1951), who later rightly rejected this hypothesis (1972, p. 1005), sending the mysterious artist back into anonymity. The variety and abundance of that painting is reflected here, particularly in the description of fruits placed on the ground and sculpted with a naturalistic light that accentuates their volumes. Yet these elements are presented with a more joyous, disordered approach, and the ground level of an outdoor location is replaced by the stable surface of an indoor table. If certain qualities recall the spirit of the forest floor pictures that earned him his reputation, made under the impetus of the Roman school, the cabbage roses are now replaced by luxuriant bouquets, and the tortoises and frogs (not to mention snakes) have given way to fruit and mushrooms. The only animal presence is the birds – a pair of lapwings, a starling, and a kingfisher, apparently – and butterflies, the customary symbols of the soul. Leaving behind cruel and painstakingly-described nature, Porpora has moved towards an exuberant world of refined floral bouquets, and elegant layouts that never shun superfluity.
The diverse levels of the setting are left unemphasised, leaving the impression that everything is cascading forward, balanced but hardly stable. No fruit is repeated from one composition to the other, and the flowers themselves are arranged in distinct ways, as we can see in the branch of jasmine. Even more insistently, the grapes – which have tumbled out of the basket that seems to have tipped over – are presented as a catalogue or sampling of different colours and shapes, emerging from a third level, on either side of a rock. Seen together, these fruits recall the end of summer and start of autumn; apart from the grapes, we should consider the pomegranates and figs – ripe to bursting – the mushrooms, the squash and its broad leaves, the two large yellow-orange flowers, and the apples and medlars. With the citation of a classical relief with putti and the presence of a small fountain, whose edge acts as a perch for one of the lapwings, the artist enriches his subject by introducing new elements. We are at what appears to be a turning point in Porpora’s style, which enables us to date these pictures to 1650-1660, earlier than the paintings in the Valence museum. Such compositions are based on relatively simple works with a more sparing use of flowers and fruit, like the Still Life with Parakeets (Naples, Museo di Capodimonte). Porpora’s paintings evolved into a more Baroque exuberance, and it was here that his virtuosity lay, describing an ensemble of objects rather than lingering over detailed analysis. This concept was indebted to the Northern painters in Rome – Abraham Brueghel, Karel von Vogelaer, and Franz Werner von Tamm – and Porpora’s compositions grew into these grand bouquets, set outdoors and placed on ground level, of which the Chigi canvas (his only signed work, thus far) is the most sophisticated example (Salerno, 1984, p. 209, fig. 50.10). vronique damian
Paolo Cattamara naples ? dead by 1675 We have only scarce information about this painter. In the Nota di artisti napoletani sent in 1675 to Baldinucci by Francesco degli Oddi (Baldinucci, ed. Barocchi, VI, 1975, p. 364) a certain “Paoluccio napolitano, di pesci, fiori, frutti et animali” was already dead. The name Cattamara first appears explicitly in Orlandi’s Abecedario pittorico (1733, p. 357), which mentions a “Paoluccio Cattamara napolitano, valente in dipingere serpi, uccelli e altri animali, fiori e frutti” (“a worthy painter of snakes, birds, and other animals, flowers, and fruit”). The reconstrucion of Cattamara’s corpus and identity began with two still lifes in the Pallavicini collection in Rome. Almost half a century ago Zeri (1959, pp. 195-196, nos. 339-340) attributed these two pendants (Cat, Snake, and Rabbits and Fox, Tortoise, and Quail) in the Pallavicini gallery to Paolo Porpora. The canvases had entered the collection with a bequest from an unidentified “Signor Mauri” and were recorded in an inventory of 1710 as “due quadri in tela [...] [che] rappresentano uno due Lepri, un Gatto, una Serpe, fiori, ranocchie l’altro una Volpe, una tartuca, quaglie, fonghi, fiori, opera di Paoluccio Napolitano […]”. The name “Paoluccio” was absent from the inventory of 1713 (which ascribed the canvases to “Msù
Otto”, or Otto Marseus van Schrieck) and reappeared as “Paolo Napolitano” in those of 1784 and 1833. Before Zeri’s catalogue, Porpora and Cattamara had already been confused in an essay by Causa (1951, p. 31), but the scholar returned to the question twenty years later (Causa, 1972, pp. 1040-1041, note 49), aiming to distinguish between the two figures recorded in early sources: “Paoluccio delli fiori” thus became Paolo Porpora while “Paoluccio napoletano” was finally identified as Cattamara. On the same occasion Causa reattributed the two Pallavicini pictures, which were stylistically different from works of the same kind by Porpora. We do not know whether one painter studied with the other, nor specifically where Paolo Cattamara worked, although it is clear that he was esteemed in Naples since canvases by him are listed in the collections of the Marchese del Carpio, Viceroy of Naples (Burke - Cherry, 1997, I, pp. 163-164). In this context it is worth adding that del Carpio acquired several paintings by Pasqualino Rossi and other less well known artists alongside those by our elusive painter of forest floors. His courageous cultural patronage thus fostered new talent (Anselmi, 2007, pp. 86-87). claudia salvi
Fig. 1 — Paolo Cattamara, Forest Floor with Tortoises and Butterflies, detail, private collection (formerly Paris, Galerie Canesso).
Paolo Cattamara 13. Forest Floor with Tortoises and Butterflies oil on canvas, 13 ¾ × 16 ¾ in ₍35 × 42.5 cm₎ private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎
literature. Confalone, in MadridSalamanca, 2005, pp. 58-59, no. 24. exhibitions. Madrid-Salamanca, 2005, pp. 58-59, no. 24.
This is a characteristic work by Paolo Cattamara with a depiction of two tortoises, two butterflies and two flowering stems. The secretive quality of life on the forest floor is suggested on the one hand by the bushy area of shade that acts as a backdrop for the creatures and flowers, and on the other by a seeming dialogue between the pairs of reptiles and insects. The brushwork is soft and smooth, and the sky – crossed by a few cottony clouds – has the same clarity one sees in other works by our artist. Indeed Cattamara’s forest floors stand out from those by Porpora for their gentler treatment of the natural world and a sweetness of tonality and handling, and for scenes in which amphibians, butterflies and flowers are caught in an atmosphere one could almost define as absorbed. At least in the canvas before us, the painter has abtsained
from an excessively brutal presentation of the cruelty of the animal kingdom, as he lingers on the sense of suspended time suggested by the pair of butterflies, who seem they might mate, and the two motionless tortoises, shown as if they were waiting for something to happen. Although of Neapolitan origin (the early sources refer to him as “Paoluccio napolitano”), Paolo Cattamara appears to have been influenced more than Porpora not only by the subjects but the smoothness of style of Otto Marseus van Schrieck, in paintings like those in the Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti) in Florence, datable to the 1660s.It is hardly fortuitous that the two pendants in the Galleria Pallavicini in Rome – the only documented works of Cattamara – are listed in the inventory of 1713 as works by “Msù Otto”, that is, Otto Marseus van Schrieck. claudia salvi
Giovanni Quinsa active in naples c. 1640
Although his work is unmentioned in primary sources, two still lifes bear this painter’s name: the Bowl of Figs, Flasks, Bread, and Napkin (fig.1) signed and dated “Gio. Quinsa Spa. gF. 1641” auctioned in 1972 (Finarte, Milan 20 April 1972, lot 133), and the Peaches, Pears, and Plums with Slices of Watermelon on a Pewter Plate, also signed and dated (Galleria Paolo Brisigotti, Roma, 1991, pp. 14-15). The signature on the first painting indicates that the painter was Spanish, but the Italianised form of his name implies he worked in Italy. Volpe (1972, pp. 28-31) related this work to the Spanish taste cultivated by Blas Ledesma, and to Luca Forte. Causa (1972, p. 1002) noted that Quinsa introduces the sausage, the folded napkin, and the round loaf of bread, subjects that were to be developed later by Giovan Battista and Giuseppe Recco. Indeed the Kitchen Interior with Hens, Cheese, and Eggs in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, attributed to Giovan Battista Recco by Bottari in 1961 (Aikema, 1997, p.127, no. 142, fig. 2), as well as the Still Life with a Goat’s Head and Sausages Hanging on a Wall at Capodimonte point to Giovanni Quinsa’s stylistic influence – given that the Still Life with Citron, Sausages, and Bread Roll attributed to Giovan Battista Recco by Bottari in 1961 (Bologna, in Bergamo, 1968, pl. 42), may very well be by Giovanni Quinsa (Causa, 1972, p. 1036, note 19). His selective influence on Giuseppe Recco’s work – the Still Life with an Ice Chest, initialled “G.R.” in the Molinari Pradelli collection, and the very fine Still Life with Napkins, Rolls, Dessert, Ice Chest, and Glasses on a Small Stand of the same period, attributed to Giuseppe Ruoppolo at auction (Milan, Finarte, 6 May 1971, lot 109), though it is actually by Giuseppe Recco – suggest that Quinsa had firmly established himself in the Neapolitan art world. This should not surprise us. On the other hand, the Pantry
Scenes in the Baratti collection and a private collection in Naples, both attributed to Quinsa by Tecce (1989b, p. 887, nos. 1063-1064), Causa (1972, p. 1002), and Spinosa (1984, pp. 586-588) are slightly different from the signed Still Life offered by Finarte; this difference led Bologna to suggest, perhaps rightly, that one of these two pictures was by an anonymous Spanish painter (Bologna, in Bergamo, 1985, p. 208). However, in 1964 Volpe suggested that the Still Life with Fruit and Flowers was by “an anonymous painter working in the style of Caravaggio, active in Naples around 1630” (Naples-Zurich-Rotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 35, no. 39, fig. 16a); the work incorporates Quinsa’s vision of the world, and it is stylistically similar both to the painting sold by Finarte and the Still Life with Pigeons and a Vase of Flowers in a private collection in Naples (Tecce, 1989b, p. 887, nos. 1063-1064). Although Giovanni Quinsa was certainly living and working in Naples at a time that almost overlaps the period of Luca Forte’s strongest influence, we must wait for the history of Neapolitan still life painting in the “obscure period” between 1610 and 1630 to be fully reconstructed, given the scarcity of paintings by those early artists whose work we recognize today. Fortunately, documentation on these artists is beginning to emerge (Leone de Castris, 2005, pp. 74-85). The remarkable Still Life (cat. no. 1) in Gallipoli casts new light on this problem. Described by Leone de Castris as the “masterful and authoritative beginning” of Neapolitan still life painting, it was most likely painted during relatively early on. Since the Gallipoli canvas is the only known independent still life by Coppola, the “pantry scenes and vegetables by Giacomo Coppola” referred to in sources would then have influenced “the best of Quinsa’s work as well as the early Titta Recco.” One can only agree with such an opinion. claudia salvi
Fig. 1 — Giovanni Quinsa, Bowl of Figs, Flasks, Bread, and Napkin, whereabouts unknown.
Giovanni Quinsa 14. Silver Vase with Carnations, Citron, and a Stemmed Platter of Peaches oil on canvas, 22 ⁷/₈ × 41 ⁹/₁₆ in ₍58.1 × 105.5 cm₎ paris, galerie canesso
bibliography. Causa, 1972, p. 1002, note 19; Spinosa, 1984a, fig. 587; Salerno, 1984, p. 417; Sestieri, in Rome, 1989, p. 80, no. 45; Tecce, 1989b, p. 886, no. 1062.
This painting appeared for sale (Milan, Finarte, 20 April 1972, lot 133) accompanied by another still life, a Bowl of Figs, Flasks, Bread, and Napkin signed and dated “Gio. Quinsa Spa. gF.1641.” Of similar size, the works are considered pendants. Although this canvas is unsigned, it is indisputably an important work by Giovanni Quinsa, a relatively unknown painter whose name is not found in any source material. He is an artist of primary importance, however, whose influence can be seen in the later style developed by Giovan Battista and Giuseppe Recco. Causa accurately placed his contribution between “Verrochius” and Luca Forte, although his attribution to Quinsa of a Still Life with a Basket of Plums was subsequently changed to the Roman painter Agostino Verrocchi (Causa, 1972, p. 1036, note 19). Causa did well to emphasize the importance of the exchanges between Rome and Naples, which Leone de Castris also develops in his essay on the origins of Neapolitan still life painting (2005). Leone de Castris reminds us that Angelo Caroselli and Bartolomeo Cavarozzi were working in Naples in the same period and suggests that Quinsa may have been influenced by work that precedes Luca Forte’s oeuvre, such as the still life in Gallipoli, which he attributes to Giacomo Coppola (cat. no. 1). Quinsa offers his viewer a veritable catalogue of objects in this painting: the finely cut vase filled with carnations
(considered precious at the time), peaches and miniature pears, and a branch of citrons that appear to be painted on a scale that varies from the other objects. Great care has been lavished on details, and the small flowers and fruits are represented at different stages of bloom and ripeness, reminding us of the ages of man. The botanical precision of the technique is typical of the early period of still life painting in Naples, and appears to reflect the work of Filippo de Llaño, a Spanish painter better known as Filippo Napoletano. Newly discovered documents indicate that Filippo was working in Naples between 1610 and 1614, most likely in the workshop of Carlo Sellitto (see Naples 1977 pp. 88-92; Nappi, 1992, p. 51). The relatively old Neapolitan inventory of Ferrante Spinelli drawn up in 1654-1655 mentions paintings of fruits and animals by Filippo Napoletano (Labrot, 1992, p. 98) that must have been similar to the vivid, naturalistic Citrons in the Botanical Museum of Florence (Chiarini, 1977, pp. 354-356; 1985, pp. 225-226, Gregori, in Florence, 1986-1987, p. 39; Chiarini, in Florence, 1986-1987, pp. 198199; Gregori, 1989, pp. 513-514; Fumagalli, 1989, 529-531; De Vito, 1990, p. 115-158). In the early stages of the Italian still life, nature was observed with a scientific spirit, and that same spirit animates this picture, making it an exceptionally important document of early still life painting in Naples. claudia salvi
Luca Forte naples, c. 1605 c. 1660 Luca Forte is traditionally thought of as a figure of fundamental importance for the establishment of naturalistic, Caravaggesque still life painting in Naples. Some historically documented data and works bearing a signature or initials and, in rare cases, a date, or works datable by reasonable conjecture, have contributed over time to establishing his biography; the rest comes from a consideration of his evolving style. Information on his life and work comes from sources such as the Vite de’ pittori, scultori, ed architetti napoletani (1742-1745, III, pp. 293-294) by Bernardo De Dominici, who in the biography devoted to the more famous Paolo Porpora, refers to Luca Forte in less than flattering terms: “although in his time he was considered excellent in that type of work, he was nevertheless lacking in invention and composition, as can be seen in his paintings, which have little of either foreground or background” ( “sebbene al suo tempo fu tenuto eccellente in tal genere di lavoro, ad ogni modo era povero di invenzione, e di componimento; perciocchè veggonsi le sue pitture che non hanno troppo avanti, e indietro”). We can conclude from this comparison that Forte was older than Porpora (born in Naples in 1617), and that to the eyes of the eighteenthcentury biographer his style appeared more archaic than the luxuriant, pre-Baroque works of the other painter. Many scholars have dated Forte’s works precisely according to this concept of foreground and background, considering it a useful element in understanding the artist’s chronological and stylistic evolution. Forte moved from a decidedly non-perspective definition of space – in the sense of twodimensional composition – to an articulation of space based on greater complexity of planes, as much horizontal (with reference to the depth of field) as vertical (by preferring a pyramidal, ‘hierarchical’ construction of images). A document of 1639 cites Forte as witness at the marriage of Aniello Falcone, born in 1607 (Prota-Giurleo, 1951,
p. 26), which would seem to prove that the artist – according to the custom for witnesses – was the same age or slightly older than the groom. Another document notes his presence, again as witness, at the signing of a notarial deed in 1631 relating to Filippo Vitale (Pacelli, 1984, p. 95), further supporting the thesis that Forte was born around 1605 or shortly before. Other elements important for a chronology include a dedicatory inscription to Don Giuseppe Carafa in the Still Life with Fruit and Birds, an initialled work at the Ringling Museum, Sarasota – Carafa’s death in 1647 providing an ante quem limit before which the canvas was painted (Gilbert in Sarasota, 1961, no. 38); and the correspondence of the 1640s with the collector Antonio Ruffo of Messina (Ruffo, 1916, pp. 21-64), which proves the degree of fame achieved by the painter, given the references to considerable payments. The fact that several still lifes by Forte, executed alone or in collaboration with Aniello Falcone, have been found in important Neapolitan collections – apart from that of Giuseppe Carafa cited above – such as those of Ferrante Spinelli, prince of Tarsia, and the merchant-collector Gaspar Roomer, also confirms this fame (Mormone, 1962, pp. 222-226; Labrot, 1992; Ruotolo, 1982, p. 7). In addition, two pictures by Forte are recorded in the 1640s in the important Madrid collection of Juan Alfonso Enríquez de Cabrera, Viceroy of Naples from 1644 to 1646 (Forth Worth, 1985, p. 231; Gregori, 1996, p. 178), further proving the prestige enjoyed by the painter in those years. A document records Forte’s presence at a miraculous event at the Gesù Nuovo in Naples in May, 1653 (De Maio, 1983, pp. 253-256). Lastly, a note of 1675 (Ceci, 1899, pp. 163-168; Baldinucci, ed. Barocchi, 1975, VI, p. 367) mentions the artist, suggesting he had already died several years earlier, perhaps in the plague of 1656 or soon thereafter. The chronology of the artist’s signed and initialled works – together with others attributed to him in recent years
Fig. 1 — Luca Forte, Still Life with Basket of Grapes and Other Fruits by a Broken Wall, Marano di Castenaso, Molinari Pradelli collection.
by Mina Gregori and Giuseppe De Vito (Gregori, 19941995; De Vito, 1990, 2000) – allow us to trace a stylistic itinerary which starts with the strictly Caravaggesque paintings of the 1620s and 1630s. The artist’s maturity is reflected between the 1640s and 1650s in works with a more articulated concept of space and composition and a sharper, more varied palette. Some years ago the Still Life with Tuberose in the Galleria Corsini was removed from Forte’s catalogue and attributed to Filippo Napoletano (De Vito, 1990, pp. 115-159; Guarino in Rome, 1995, no. 56), although some scholars continue to consider it among the artist’s early works. Until recently its autograph status was undisputed not only because of the presence of initials among the vine shoots, but because its strict adherence to Caravaggesque style implied an early date. The beginning of Forte’s activity can in any case be dated to the second half of the 1630s (see Spinosa, 1989b, pp. 852-871 and Tecce, 1989a, pp. 872-879) with works such as the two small octagons in the Duca di Martina Museum, a Still Life with Cherries, Strawberries and Other Fruits, a Still Life with Apples and Pears and a Still Life with Vase of Flowers, Fruit, Lemons, and Citron in a private Neapolitan collection (cat. no. 16), all attributed to the artist’s first period for the clear arrangement of volume and decisive naturalism (Bologna, 1983-1984, p. 207). The fully signed Still Life with a Various Fruits, published by De Vito (1990, p. 121, pls. IV, V and figs. 5, 26-28 and 2000, p. 18 and pl. II) is fully in keeping with the style of these canvases. The two Still Lifes with Fruit in the Pontevedra Museum in Spain – published by Leone de Castris (2005, p. 83) and considered by him to be an important juncture for understanding the beginning of Neapolitan still life as influenced by Roman Caravaggism – could demonstrate that this early phase might predate the period indicated above. The fully signed Still Life with Fruit and Flowers and Still Life with Basket of Grapes and
Other Fruits by a Broken Wall (fig. 1), both in the Molinari Pradelli collection, and the picture in Sarasota cited earlier, can certainly be ascribed to a central period in the artist’s life. The Still Life with Pomegranates, Grapes, Figs, Apples and Flowers, acquired by the Capodimonte Museum in 1999, and the two Garlands of Fruit, one in the Pinacoteca Provinciale, Bologna and the other in a private collection, can be added to the list of mature works (Gregori, 1994-1995, p. 176). Given their luminous qualities and assertive description of volume, the latter two could be placed after Forte’s early period; a further parallel is provided by a hitherto unknown painting, recently published by Cottino (2007a, p. 4 and pls. 1, 2), signed in a script similar to that in the Sarasota painting. The same naturalistic approach marks the two Vases of Flowers (formerly London, Cyril Humphris collection) and the two pendants with Iris and Lilies and Tulips (De Vito, 2006a, figs. 3 and 4). These works are true botanical studies and thus attributable to the same years. Examples of exceptionally fine paintings from this period are the Still Life with Lemons, Citrons, and Landscape and Still Life with Dried Fruit, Flowers, and Landscape in the Piero Cei Collection in Florence (cat. no. 17), both characterised by an articulated concept of space and composition, in addition to a sharp, varied palette. These qualities suggest that this was the ‘grand finale’ for this flower painter, whose career had begun with little decoration and less depth of field. The highly interesting discovery by De Vito (2006a, pp. 11, 17, pls. IV, V) of a Vase of Flowers, initialled – albeit not entirely clearly – and dated 1649, and with a depiction of a gilded vase with reliefs and a varied, dynamic collection of flowers, would support these chronological hypotheses and confirm that Forte was embracing a new, more elegantly decorative style. angela tecce
Luca Forte 15. Glass Vase with Lilies, Carnations, and Daisies
Bronze Vase of Flowers oil on canvas, 21 ⁷/₈ × 14 ³/₈ in ₍55.5 × 36.5 cm₎ each private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎ Until recently (De Vito, 1989 and 1990) scholarship had always ascribed paintings of natura in posa – that is, those with depictions of vases of flowers, made in Naples, and dated to the late 1620s or early 1630s – to Giacomo Recco, recorded by the biographer De Dominici as father of the better-known genre painter Giuseppe. Mentioned in early sources, together with Ambrosiello Faro, Mariano, and Luca Forte, as a painter “of flowers, fruit, fish, and other subjects” (Ceci, 1899, p. 163 f.), Giacomo Recco has long been considered by modern scholars as the author of a number of paintings of vases of flowers, including (apart from some compositions formerly attributed to Giovanni da Udine) a picture dated 1626 in the Rivet collection in Paris. This group was believed to be by the Neapolitan painter solely because these vases, mostly decorated with grotesques typical of sixteenth-century art, reflected formal and compositional aspects that were quite alien to the sort one finds in the later naturalist phase of Neapolitan art. Rather, they appeared to belong in the wake of the late Mannerist paintings by the Fleming Jan Brueghel, who was in Naples in 1590. Having excluded Giacomo Recco, the challenge is to identify another Neapolitan generista as the author of at least some of these paintings of identical but clearly naturalist style. This is the case (among others) with the present pair of vases and a variety of flowers. Both vases are placed – or better, displayed – on stone surfaces. The one made of glass (perhaps more correctly defined as a glass bowl) has reflections that recall wellknown precedents by Caravaggio; the other is made of bronze and has a handle and bears Cinquecento-style relief decoration, suggesting Giacomo Recco as he was once understood to be. Yet close study, not only of the undoubtedly Caravaggesque qualities of the glass bowl but of the vigorously naturalistic handling of the flowers – especially the dense, fleshy white of the lilies or the dilation, curling, and near-shedding of the red poppies, as if this were their final flourish – recalls other compositions. What immediately comes to mind, in the light of recent research, is the kind of picture unquestionably painted by Luca Forte, either with flowers
arranged in a single vase or surrounded by a rich variety of bread and fruit. Forte was recorded in seventeenth and eighteenth-century sources among the most prominent generisti in Naples, and his oeuvre is defined by a number of signed or documented paintings whose handling is paralleled by the pair of canvases before us. The closest comparative material for a convincing attribution to Luca Forte is undoubtedly offered by the two pictures of Flowers and Fruit (a pair, one of them signed) formerly in the Cyril Humphris collection in London, and above all by the two Vases of Flowers (in London, 1986, pp. 40-43; Tecce, 1989a, p. 876, fig. 1044), in which carnations and irises share the studied compositional sumptuousness of our paintings. Other parallels can be made with the splendid floral arrangements included by Luca Forte in his relatively early still lifes of fruit arranged on stone surfaces – with oranges, citrons and lemons, apples and pears, figs and walnuts, pomegranates and strawberries or cherries, bread and taralli – and on rare occasions set against a landscape, in the manner of Aniello Falcone or early Micco Spadaro. The paintings exhibited here have a Caravaggesque truth to nature that lends them further grounds for an attribution to Luca Forte in a period no later than the early 1630s, if not in the late 1620s. Such a dating would apply to the stylistically similar Still Life in the Galleria Corsini, Rome (recently but hardly convincingly given to Filippo Napoletano) or especially to the Still Life with Vase of Flowers, Fruits and Citrons in a Neapolitan private collection (cat. no. 16), first published by Bologna (1983-1984), who dated it to the early 1630s; or like the flowers in a crystal vase on the left of the celebrated signed Still Life with Flowers and Fruit in the Molinari Pradelli collection at Marano di Castenaso (Tecce, in Naples, 1984-1985, p. 280, no. 2.92). Once we have agreed upon Luca Forte’s authorship, this pair of paintings becomes not only a significant addition to his oeuvre but – if we accept an early date – the basis for recognising the painter’s pioneering status in the evolution of still life painting in Naples, as described in early sources. nicola spinosa
Luca Forte 16. Still Life with Fruit and Flowers oil on canvas, 30 ¹¹/₁₆ × 50 ¹¹/₁₆ in ₍77 × 127 cm₎ private collection
literature. Bologna, 1983-1984, p. 207, fig. 8, p. 209, fig. 9, p. 210, fig. 10; Tecce, in Naples, 1984-1985, I, p. 278, no. 2.90; Tecce, 1989a, p. 879, figs. 1047-1048; Gregori 1996, p. 178; De Vito, 2000, pp. 21-22, ill. III, fig. 1; Tecce, in Munich, 2002-2003, p. 190; Tecce, in Florence, 2003, p. 194; De Vito, 2006a, pp. 11, 15. exhibitions. Naples, 1984-1985, I, p. 278, no. 2.90; Munich, 2002-2003, p. 190; Florence, 2003, p. 194.
The composition is arranged on different levels and depicts a wide variety of fruit. Large citrons and lemons are laid out in the left foreground; a basket of pears sits on a block of stone that points into the centre of the composition – introducing a geometrical element, though its rigidity is softened by the chipped corner, but with contrasts in light and shade to indicate the principal spaces of the composition; and the rest are arranged under a large vase of flowers, principally lilies. A true inquadratura, then, with nothing fortuitous about it, and with the various species of fruits and flowers identified with great naturalistic skill. Above all, one senses the painter’s clearly tactile intentions, both in the definition of single objects and in their arrangement ‘avanti e indietro’, to paraphrase what the eighteenth-century biographer De Dominici wrote about Forte, although he said it pejoratively, seeing this only as the result of little talent. This ‘incapacity’ would appear to be confirmed by two paintings of Irises and Lilies and Tulips attributed to Forte (whereabouts unknown; De Vito, 2006a, p. 11, 15), the latter particularly interesting as it includes a scroll inscribed ‘Florilegio’, almost as if the picture were a flower painter’s catalogue. The work before us certainly reflects an ordered composition in its horizontal layout and in the precise, symmetrical juxtaposition of objects. Forte was to abandon this approach in subsequent years, producing images with freer rhythms. Bologna attributed this painting to Luca Forte in 1984 (1983-1984, p. 207) based on a study of style and the recognition of the painter’s signature in the vine shoot to the left of the vase; it is now unanimously accepted as an early work by the artist. No record has been found of Luca Forte’s presence in Rome, but there are clear parallels here with the stylistic
choices made in the circle of Giovan Battista Crescenzi. It would be interesting to see whether the similarities with Spanish painters – as Gregori (1996, pp.175, 178) noted with reference to Juan Fernandez, called El Labrador, a painter active in the Madrid court – derives from Forte’s association with Roman painters or from a direct knowledge of works in Naples. This is tied to another, persistent question – the problem posed by our extremely scarce knowledge regarding patronage and taste during the initial spread of still life painting in Naples. Around the 1630s there emerged a sort of academy with a focus on the study of nature, composed of painters gravitating around Aniello Falcone (De Vito, 1982, p. 8), and this is an appropriate moment to recall a document published by Prota-Giurleo (1951, p. 26) in which Luca Forte is recorded as witness to Aniello Falcone’s marriage contract in 1639. A genuine collaboration between the two painters is also confirmed by references in Neapolitan collections such as the Spinelli and Tarsia to numerous still lifes by both of them; the Tarsia inventory (Mormone, 1962, pp. 222-226) includes a “quadro di figure e frutti di palmi 5 e 6, mano di Luca Forte e Aniello Falcone”. The description of light and volume in this painting, and its compositional arrangement, establish its execution in the painter’s youthful period. If he was indeed a witness for Aniello Falcone, who was born in 1607, he was probably of the same age or younger, as convention would have dictated. A dating to the 1630s, or even a little earlier, as believed by Spinosa (in Rimini, 1996, p. 23), thus makes sense. Given the context of Neapolitan painting in those years, with its renewed interest for naturalistic rendering, albeit with increasingly pictorial, classicizing qualities, such a dating is not only appropriate but in agreement with recent scholarship. angela tecce
Luca Forte 17. Still Life with Lemons, Citron, and Landscape
Still Life with Dried Fruit, Flowers, and Landscape oil on canvas, 39 × 29 ½ in ₍99 × 75 cm₎ each florence, piero cei collection
literature. Tecce, in Naples, 19841985, I, p. 282, nos. 2.94a, b; Tecce, 1989a, p. 877, figs. 1047-1048; De Vito, 1990, pp. 151-152, figs. 32-33; De Vito, 2000, pp. 26-27, ill. IV-V; De Vito, 2006a, p. 11-17, ill. II. exhibitions. Naples, 1984-1985, I, p. 282, nos. 2.94a, b.
Luca Forte was the most prominent figure in the development of still life painting in Naples from the 1620s onwards, to judge by the presence of numerous works of his owned by important Neapolitan collectors such as the Princes of Tarsia. As noted by De Vito (2006a, p. 17), their palace contained “venti pezzi di Luca Forte che nel dipingere cose naturali non ebbe pari”, according to the contemporary guide to the city by Celano. The airiness of these two compositions and the atmospheric spaciousness that surrounds the objects is of extraordinary quality and beauty. Forte’s customary talent in conveying the varying masses and colours of fruit, the disorderly freedom of the flowers in the vase, and above all the presence of landscape backgrounds reflect a mature style, more evolved than his first works, which have a more symmetrical, layered arrangement. These paintings are pendants and were exhibited in 1984 in the still life section of Civiltà del 600 a Napoli, where the present author dated them to the central, defining years of the artist’s career – between 1640 and 1650 – as confirmed by other scholars (Gregori, 1996; De Vito, 2000, p. 19 and 2006a, p. 17). This followed a more emphatically naturalistic phase during the 1630s, when a Neapolitan academy based on the study of nature (De Vito, 1982, figs. 6-7) brought together a group of painters around Aniello Falcone, with whom Forte frequently collaborated. The initialled Still Life with Fruit and Birds in the Ringling Museum, Sarasota is one of the few datable works by this painter because of a dedicatory inscription to the Neapolitan noble Don Giuseppe Carafa, who died tragically in the church of Santa Maria la Nova in 1647, thus placing the picture’s execution securely before that date. A comparison of this canvas with our paintings reveals a shared painterly glow, and the same precision
in determining the volume of each object, yet compared to the pyramidal composition in Sarasota, the Cei pictures evince a more open, free definition of space. Another Vase of Flowers, initialled and dated 1649 and recently published by De Vito (2006a), also confirms the painter’s evolution towards a more imaginative, decorative sort of composition, evident in both the flower arrangement and the golden vase with narrative figures. The two works before us have nothing to indicate a clue to their patronage, and can be said to share the brilliant, clear tonalities of Luca Forte’s first works, from the lemons and oranges and small bunches of flowers in the Autumnal composition to the clear vase with carnations and orange blossoms in the picture dedicated to Winter; the latter season is implied by the various dried fruits and sweets casually arranged on the ledge, with the characteristic cracked and obliquely-aligned stone that recurs in so many other works of his. Yet their major distinguishing feature is the presence of landscapes. The connection – already noted when these were first published – with two landscapes signed and dated by Ribera in 1639 (Salamanca, Palacio de Monterrey; see Aguirre y Ortiz de Zárate, Duque de Alba, Madrid, 1984, pp. 9-64) appears to be an important indication of the direction taken by Neapolitan art in the 1630s. If one side of this equation is represented by a renewed interest in a Caravaggio-based truth to nature – as seen in Battistello, Massimo Stanzione, Ribera and the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds – a no less important and productive trend towards the picturesque is seen emerging in these years, parallel to contemporary developments in Roman painting. angela tecce
Master S.B. active between 1633 and 1655
A profile of this still anonymous master was provided by De Vito (1990, p. 121), who rejected Salerno’s attribution to Luca Forte of the beautiful Still Life in the Lodi collection (1984, pp. 92-93, fig. 36). Comparing this work with two other paintings, one with a monogram, formerly with the Galleria Canelli, Milan (figs. 1-2), De Vito deduced that its character was not Neapolitan (with which we agree) but Central Italian. These two canvases, which form the starting point of the Master S. B.’s work, first appeared at the Florence Biennale in 1985 (Florence, 1985, pp. 354-355), and one bears a partially erased monogram that De Vito read as “S. B. P.” (it could also be read as “S. E. P.”) and the date 1655 (fig. 3; Bocchi, 2005, pp. 166-167, fig. PS.2). De Vito’s brief but relevant contribution, together with Veca’s iconographic and stylistic analysis (1990, pp. 82-87), Cottino’s initial assessment (Florence, 2003, pp. 124-126), and Bocchi’s recent re-examination (2005, pp. 165-202) all help to define this master, probably active in Rome around the turn of the century, as a transitional figure between an earlier Caravaggesque naturalism and the more modern approach represented by masters such as the Acquavella Master (active in the 1620s) and Cerquozzi (1602-1660). De Vito posits that this artist was trained in the 1640s “with Quinsa as a model, if we really want to consider a southern context”. However, the appearance on the art market of a Basket of Cherries, Bunch of Strawberries, Ham, Mushrooms, and Cakes on a Piece of Paper, dated 1633 (Münster, Galerie Frye & Son; Bocchi, 2005, p. 181; fig. PS. 15), would seem to confirm the hypothesis originally formulated by Veca and developed by Cottino and the Bocchis (with somewhat divergent conclusions) that our artist was familiar with the work of Tommaso Salini (1575-c. 1625) and Agostino Verrocchi (active during the first half of the seventeenth century). The work of the Master S. B., also known – not
coincidentally – as the Pseudo-Salini, closely resembles the group of paintings attributed to Tommaso Salini, who was in the vanguard of the renewal of still life painting in Rome at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Recent scholarship (Laureati, in Rome, 2001, p. 80) maintains that despite its apocryphal signature, the Still Life of Fruits and Vegetables with a Snake and a Mouse, with the inscription “T. Salini ano F. 1621” (Turin, private collection), should still be attributed to Salini, which seems plausible. This painting is the starting point for a consideration of Salini’s oeuvre (but for its attribution to the Master S. B., see Cottino in Florence, 2003, p. 125); its dense, frieze-like composition presents a rustic assortment of delights including a savoy cabbage, cardoons, and bunches of asparagus, all enlivened by a completely naturalistic energy that is belied by the delicacy of the brush strokes. The strong light that is modulated as it falls over the objects, as well as the dark background recall the Roman context of the first half of the seventeenth century, giving us a better understanding of the progression between paintings by the anonymous master S. B. and those by Salini. The Master S. B. presents compositions arranged on stone entablatures that serve as consoles for broad and unvarying displays of choice fruits and vegetables, as in the Cheeses, Cold Meats, Cabbage, Cake, Flask of Wine, Basket of Mushrooms, Carobs, and Artichokes, dated 1652 (Modena, private collection; Bocchi, 2005, p. 170). Lighting is both warm and intense, soft and fluid, while the juxtaposition of sombre grapes with the pears and red and yellow apples reveals strong, vivid contrasts that recall Cerquozzi’s compositions, even as they seem to confirm a later date in relation to other models in Salini’s style. The painter works with a relatively restricted repertory of elements, such as a cake, a basket of apples and pears, an annotated sheet of paper, provola or pecorino cheese,
Fig. 1 — Master S. B., Still Life with Citrus fruit, Strawberries and Birds,
Fig. 2 — Master S. B., Still Life with a Basket of Fruits, Cake, Birds,
formerly Milan, Galleria Canelli.
Cheese, and a Rinsing Bowl, formerly Milan, Galleria Canelli.
birds, sausages, a bunch of cardoons and a flask of wine, indicating a more systematic way of painting, in response to a ever-increasing number of commissions from a growing market, that is more characteristic of the generation that followed Salini (who died in 1625) than the more experimental one of the 1620s. The dates ranging from the 1630s to the 1650s that appear on the Master S. B.’s work likewise confirm this analysis. Although a precise catalogue of the Pseudo-Salini or the Master S. B.’s work remains to be established, there is no doubt that he is an important painter whose influence was felt throughout the century, with repercussions on the purist tendency incorporated by Cristoforo Munari in the Papal States. In fact one of his still lifes is attributed to Tommaso Salini by Safarik (New York-Kansas City, 1999, p. 252, fig. 450) and to the Master S. B. by Cottino (Florence, 2003, p. 126, note 21), but not by Baldassari, who believes it is by Munari (2000, p. 232, fig. 238). Nonetheless, we should not entirely reject a connection
with the Neapolitan milieu. Bologna’s intuitive notion that the young Giovan Battista Ruoppolo was influenced by Roman painting (1983, p. 20, 64) must be reconsidered. De Dominici stated that the Master was Porpora’s student (1742-1745, III, p. 194), but surely this means Porpora in his Roman period. If that were the case, it is tempting to believe that the young Giovan Battista Ruoppolo was enticed to come to the Eternal City by his Neapolitan master, but once he had arrived, he turned for inspiration not to Porpora but rather our anonymous Master. This would allow for the possibility that the beautiful still life of a Basket of Apples, Turnips, and Salad, formerly in the Lodi collection, displayed in public for the first time in 2001 (Seiji Togo-Niigata-Hakodate-ToyamaAshikaga-Yamagata, 2001-2002, p. 60, no. 21) as the work of Giovan Battista Recco – an attribution confirmed by Middione (Florence, 2003, p. 203) though without much conviction – might indeed be the work of Giovan Battista Ruoppolo while in Rome, not far from the style of Salini and the so-called Master S. B.. claudia salvi
Fig. 3 — Master S. B., Still Life with a Basket of Fruits, Cake, Birds, Cheese, and a Rinsing Bowl, detail, formerly Milan, Galleria Canelli.
Master S.B. 18. Basket of Fruit, Citrons, Asparagus, Birds, Cardoon, and Pine Cones oil on canvas, 23 ¼ × 27 ⁹/₁₆ ₍59 × 70 cm₎ private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎
literature. Bocchi, 2005, p. 188, fig. PS.23
This painting, formerly in the Queirazza collection and offered for auction by Porro. in Milan on 9 November 2005 (lot 182, as Luca Forte) is one of the most beautiful and characteristic works by the painter known as the Master S.B. The composition closely resembles that of the painting formerly in the Lodi collection (fig. 1), and the author of the sale catalogue was entirely correct in making this connection and dating it to the 1640s. This composition consists of a foreground packed with fruits and vegetables, seemingly placed on ground level. The centre is completely dominated by citrons, their peel highlighted in vivid yellow; the fruit often appears in other paintings attributed to this hand. Behind, also striking for its brilliant colours, sits a basket of black grapes, pears and apples, while on the left, lying on a slightly chipped stone block, are some lifeless birds. The arrangement is identical to the one in the Lodi painting, as is the inclusion of dead birds, a basket full of fruit (almost replicated) and the citrons in the foreground.
Fig. 1 — Master S.B., Basket with Fruit, Cake, and Small Birds, formerly Campione d’Italia, Lodi collection.
The bunches of asparagus on the right, with the beautiful play of shadows on their opalescent stalks, lit as if by moonlight – almost recalling the Ecstasy of Saint Francis by Caravaggio (Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum), but of course in a humbler key – recur in the Still Life with Game, Asparagus, Mushrooms, Quinces, Cake, and Cheese, faintly initialled and dated 1645 (Lucca, Mazzarosa collection; Bocchi, 2005, p. 170). Like many genre painters, the Master S.B. worked with favourite components which he then made into compositions that seem like subtle modulations of the same pictorial universe. Culturally speaking the painting can be associated with the oeuvre that continues to be conventionally linked to the figure of Tommaso Salini, even though – as recently stated by Laureati (London-Rome, 2001, p. 80) – Salini the still life painter as recorded in early sources and inventories is always defined as a painter of flowers. Such references do not imply the existence of the wide-ranging corpus of still lifes – unfortunately always without flowers – that has been associated with him, although Cottino recently published a Saint Cecilia, signed and dated by Tommaso Salini, that includes a vase of flowers (Fano, 2001, p. 92; on Salini, see Cottino, 1995-1996, p. 64; Gregori, 1997, pp. 5863; Markova, 1999, pp. 96-104; Pegazzano, 1997, pp. 131-146). What has been published to date from Roman inventories reveals a very broad range of still life subjects, in fact much greater than demonstrated by the works that have come down to us. Sometimes the descriptions, so often lacking names of artists, can visually evoke certain categories that scholars have sought to establish. For example, the inventory of Gabriele dal Pozzo drawn up in March 1695 contains a citation of a painting by Panarra – a name unknown to modern scholarship – “di 3 palmi di vari frutti e uccellami” (Laureati – Trezzani, 1989, p. 746), which could make one think of works by our anonymous master. claudia salvi
Giuseppe Recco naples, 1634 alicante, 1695 We are told that Giuseppe Recco was born 12 July 1634 in the parish of San Liborio, which was then called the parish of the Carità (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, p. 296; Salazar, 1897, p. 131). A signed partnership contract with the artist Antonio Cimino (Delfino, 1984, pp. 159-160) tells us that Recco’s father, Giacomo, was also a painter, a statement confirmed by another contract of 1632 with Angela Cantalena, widowed mother of Paolo Porpora (Prota-Giurleo, 1953, p. 12). Giacomo’s social circle and friends were also part of the same artistic milieu: the godfathers of Giacomo’s older sisters Giovanna-Teresa and Giovanna-Pellegrina were Massimo Stanzione and Filippo Di Maria; the latter was the father of the painter Francesco (Prota-Giurleo, 1953, p. 15). Moreover, Giuseppe Recco’s profession is clearly stated in a document dated October 1654 that refers to his marriage with Francesca della Peruta in which he declares himself to be “pittore e figlio del quondam Giacomo Recco” (“painter and son of the late Giacomo Recco”; Prota-Giurleo, 1953, p. 16). It was De Dominici who first posited that Giuseppe Recco spent his youth in Lombardy (Zeri, 1952, pp. 37-38; De Logu, 1962, p. 42; De Logu, 1964, p. 27; Salerno, 1984, p. 212). Giuseppe De Vito’s research in civil registers of the time permits us to discard this erroneous hypothesis, which had been doubted for some time by scholars (Bologna, in Bergamo, 1968, pl. 45; Rosci, 1971, p. 176; Causa, 1972, p. 1022; Middione, 1989b, p. 903). Like Causa, Middione insists that “there is no concrete proof of this stay in the north”. Middione is far from conviced that Recco’s work, like the Five Senses from the painter’s mature period (cat. no. 29) is the work of a beginner (Middione, 1989b, p. 904); the resemblance to Northern Italian art is no more than iconographic. Already in the eighteenth century, the historian Giannone maintained that Recco’s supposed apprenticeship with the “famous Bettina di Milano” (referred to by De Dominici) was a
yarn fabricated by his biographer (Giannone, 1771-1773, ed. 1941, p. 152). De Dominici also refers to the “many Neapolitan masters” who were Recco’s teachers, but since he was “unable to know who they were” he cited only Paolo Porpora. There was no doubt in De Dominici’s mind that Porpora “was the one who taught him to paint fish and all manner of sea creatures, and this was Giuseppe’s best genre, where he excelled more than in other depictions, although he painted everything perfectly, and true to nature”. De Dominici’s assertion regarding Recco’s apprenticeship with Porpora, one of the greatest Neapolitan still life painters, is highly problematic. At the time when Giuseppe would have been his student, Porpora had left Naples for Rome. Moreover, the hypothesis that the young Porpora painted fish rests on fragile evidence (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, p. 294) and on works that must be approached with caution, also as regards their chronology (De Vito, 1999, pp. 18-42). On the other hand, Recco’s paintings of flowers do reveal the mark of Porpora’s influence. It is no coincidence that Paolo Porpora is correctly recognized both by scholars and the evidence of his own works mainly as a painter of flowers. Among the many Neapolitan masters who are not cited by De Dominici, we must not forget Giovan Battista Recco. Even if it is not possible to prove that he was Giuseppe’s teacher, the affinities between their respective vocabularies are obvious. Some pictures, particularly the still lifes with victuals and dead animals, seem to shuttle back and forth between the corpus of each painter. The Goat’s Head in the Capodimonte Museum, which was considered until recently to be by Giovan Battista Recco, is now attributed to Giuseppe (Bologna, in Bergamo, 1968, pl. 45; Spinosa, in Naples, 1994, p. 54-55). Similarly, we might easily assume that the famous Kitchen interior in Vienna (fig. 1) and the same subject in a private collection in Bologna
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Recco, Kitchen Interior, Vienna, Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der Bildenden Künste.
were masterpieces by Giovan Battista Recco, if they were not signed with Giuseppe Recco’s monogram. Equally strong, Luca Forte’s influence is recognizable in Recco’s plastic energy and the iridescent tones and pale shadows of his palette. Giuseppe Recco is without doubt one of the most significant still life painters working in Naples in the seventeenth century, and his production is certainly one of the most diverse. His biographer asures us that “he was a singular painter of flowers, fruit, sweets, fish, game, vegetables, and other things”. As proof of the sheer variety of his subject matter, a large number of his canvases are signed, initialled, and dated in different ways. His name often appears in Neapolitan collections (Labrot, 1984, p. 136; idem, 1992, p. 552), although a listing as “Recco” may occasionally refer to one of his children, attesting to the popularity of his working process and his thriving workshop. We are told by De Dominici that Recco was decorated with the Cross of Calatrava by King Charles II of Spain. But this report was contested early on by Giannone, (1771-1773, pp. 152-153), and more recently, Pérez Sánchez (1965, pp. 414-425) expressed doubt over De Dominici’s assertion by publishing a document dated 1667 concerning the Calatrava decoration bestowed on a Don Giuseppe Recco whose biographical and genealogical information fail to correspond to our painter. Further research by De Vito (1988) revealed that it was not the son of Giacomo Recco who received the decoration but a homonymous contemporary. The title of eques used by the painter to sign some of his paintings after 1671 (Leone de Castris, in Rome, 1994-1995, p. 70) must then refer to another title, more appropriate for a painter (De Vito, 1988, p. 68). Notwithstanding this inaccuracy, De Dominici succeeds in emphasising the social prestige Recco enjoyed in Naples. A document published by Burke refers to him
as the “painter of the Marchese de Los Velez”, Viceroy of Naples from 1675 to 1682 (Burke – Cherry, 1997, I, p. 761). Fumagalli relates two paintings of fish included in the inventory of the property of the Marchese del Carpio (Viceroy from 1683 to 1686), drawn up in Rome upon his appointment and prior to his departure for Naples, to another passage in De Dominici that refers to “two of his paintings in this genre [fish] were presented by Giordano in the above-mentioned exhibition [of the Corpus Domini] and perfectly matched with seascapes and fishermen [...] These two paintings later came into the hands of the Marchese del Carpio, viceroy of Naples [...]; after his death, one of them belonged to Alessandro Cassano, an exchange agent, who obtained it along with other paintings, in lieu of the payment of interest contracted with that lord” (see Fumagalli, in De Dominici, ed. Sricchia Santoro-Zezza, II, forthcoming). De Dominici alludes here to the documented financial difficulties of the Marchese del Carpio, which explain the absence of the two paintings in the second inventory of his possessions drawn up after his death. However, the biographer also makes specific reference to the acquisition of the one of the two pendants by Alessandro Cassano, of which we were unaware. Giuseppe Recco’s financial wealth, the presence of his paintings in the Corpus Domini exhibition, his collaboration with Luca Giordano (often supported either by works themselves or by sources), all occurred before his departure for Spain at the end of his life (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, p. 296) and confirm the importance of this painter’s role in Neapolitan culture. The beauty and often excellent quality of the canvases known to us, as well as the abundance and variety of his repertoire, continue to reflect the splendour of Neapolitan still life painting in the seventeenth century. claudia salvi
Giuseppe Recco 19. Tulips and Irises in a Landscape oil on canvas, 23 ⁵/₈ × 29 ¹/₈ in ₍60 × 74 cm₎ initialled “g.r.” private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎
literature. Confalone, in Salamanca-Seville-Valencia, 20032004, pp. 68-69, no. 21; Confalone, in Madrid-Salamanca, 2005, pp. 60-61, no. 25. exhibitions. Salamanca-SevilleValencia, 2003-2004, pp. 68-69, no. 21; Madrid-Salamanca, 2005, pp. 60-61, no. 25.
A Neapolitan terracotta vase with spiral handles containing irises, single anemones and tulips sits on a floor laden with tulips, carnations and gladioli; nearby, one can see tufts of begonias with flowerless stems. The bright floral colours stand out against a twilit landscape, thus contributing to an atmosphere of subtle tension. The painting is rightly considered by Maia Confalone (in Salamanca-Seville-Valencia, 2003-2004; and Madrid-Salamanca, 2005) to be an early work by Giuseppe Recco, even though her dating is based on the form of the signature – in this case the letters “G.R.” – which does not in fact appear to correspond to a specific period of his activity, as Di Carpegna believed (1961, p. 123). In any case, Confalone aptly compares our painting with the Still Life with Flowers and Frogs in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (fig. 1) and the Still Life with Vase of Tulips, Anemones and Ducklings in the Dalla Vecchia collection in Naples, two canvases which can be seen as relating in style and subject-matter to Paolo Porpora, who was said by De Dominici to have been Recco’s teacher (1742-1745, III, p. 295). We should also note that these paintings of forest floors by Recco beg the question of when Porpora might have begun to paint his own ones. Recco’s models for similar paintings could have been canvases by Porpora bought on the Roman art market, unless the latter had already begun to paint such works before going to Rome, perhaps because Withoos had met him in Naples rather than in the Eternal City. Other evidence of a more circumstantial kind supports such a chronology, because our canvas reflects the context of the 1640s. The idea of a vase of flowers placed on the
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Recco, Still Life with Flowers and Frogs, Baltimore, Walters Art Museum.
ground, the sombre atmosphere and the elongated format recall the overdoors painted by Mario dei Fiori, cited from 1700 onwards in the Royal Collection of the Palacio del Buon Retiro. Divided between the Prado, the Palacio Pedralbes in Barcelona and the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, these canvases are unanimously agreed to be among the Roman flower painter’s earliest works, painted during the 1640s (Laureati - Trezzani, 1989, p. 759; Bocchi, 2005, p. 89). Furthermore, the white anemone with a curled petal is a clear tribute to Luca Forte and would be appropriate in an early work. The immediacy of the naturalism, and especially of the white and red tulip, whose silky appearance is beautifully conveyed by Recco, is stylistically very close to the flowers in Ribera’s Sense of Smell (Oslo, Nasjonalgalleriet), where an engrossed-looking youth holds a terracotta vase with two tulips (see the introductory essay by Spinosa for a discussion of Ribera as a model for Neapolitan genre painters). The Sense of Smell belongs to the painter’s maturity, and is close to the Sense of Hearing as conveyed by a Girl with a Tambourine, dated 1637 and probably part of a lost series of the Five Senses. Even if the patron remains unidentified – nor can we be certain that Recco actually saw this canvas – the reference to Ribera’s work of these years provides a precise clue for the dating of our picture. The subsequent discourse between works by artists such as Recco and Ribera, who were active in different genres, is symptomatic of how Italian post-Caravaggeque painting related to the still life genre; and there can be no doubt that Naples was the most radical location for this trend. It is well known that history painters, following the example of Caravaggio, did not scorn still life painting (see especially Spinosa, 1989b, p. 860, but also his introductory essay in this catalogue). In Naples, Battistello painted still lifes, and Ribera and Falcone then founded academies where painters learned to paint from nature (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, p. 71). Painters such as Luca Forte soon adhered to this trend (see the introductory essay by Leone de Castris), and two canvases he painted in collaboration with Stanzione offer admirable evidence of how pittori di storia worked on the same level as genre painters (De Vito, 2006a, p. 11, pl. III). claudia salvi
Giuseppe Recco 20. Cod and Herring in a Basket,
with Spider Crab on a Stone Shelf oil on canvas, 33 × 26 ¾ in ₍84 × 68 cm₎ paris, galerie canesso
literature. Salerno, 1984, p. 119, fig. 29.6 (as G. B. Recco).
Published by Salerno (1984, p. 119, fig. 29.6) as the work of Giovan Battista Recco and offered at auction one year later with the same attribution (Finarte, Milan, 27 May 1985, lot 487), this still life is definitely by Giuseppe Recco. He has obvious affinities with his master, yet it is difficult to ascertain who was the first to paint these compositions of fish, seaweed, and crustaceans on stone surfaces worn away by time and weather. The key elements of Giuseppe Recco’s early style – elegant composition, a strong light that fills the foreground with shadows while producing highlights on the fish, particularly the single trompe l’œil herring in the foreground, the soft penumbra of the background, developed in a monochrome
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Recco, Still Life with Fish and Crab, Strasbourg, Musée des Beaux-Arts.
palette of brown tones – are all present here. One of the characteristics of the signed painting in a private collection (cat. no. 5) as well as of the Basket of Lobsters published by Salerno (together with ours, with which it shares certain qualities) is a luminous, smooth handling, with none of the impasto and directness that distinguishes our work. This time it was most likely Giovan Battista who followed Giuseppe’s lead in this concisely refined rendering. The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Strasbourg owns a larger variation of this painting (fig. 1), also attributed to Giuseppe Recco, with some notable differences: there are two herrings (instead of just one) in the lower right foreground, with two fish on the plinth in the background, and a more shapely metal vessel. Brejon de Lavergnée prefers to consider it as by Giuseppe Recco’s workshop, not excluding the possibility of the intervention of Elena or Nicola Maria Recco (Brejon de Lavergnée–Volle, 1988, p. 275; Roy-Goldenberg, 1996, p. 91). In any case, this is a painting of great quality and powerful visual impact. The description of the spider crab, the play of light on the vessel and the fish in the background are aspects that the Strasbourg painting lacks and which heighten the impact and expressivity of this one. It is well nigh impossible to reconstruct Giuseppe Recco’s chronology: most dated works are from the 1670s, and the painter’s early activity can only be established by conjecture. It is likely that this still life was painted at a relatively early date – an opinion shared by De Vito (verbal communication). The difficulty in establishing the chronology of Recco’s work is also due to the poetics of his art, summarized as follows by Causa in his essentially unsurpassed essay on Neapolitan still life: “The language of Recco’s compositions is unyielding; always decorous, measured, highly refined, and abstract, beyond the conventions of his time” (“Sul piano del linguaggio mai una volta che il Recco ceda; sempre composto, compassato, raffinatissimo, astratto in una sua regola che non è al passo coi tempi”; Causa, 1972, p. 1021). claudia salvi
Giuseppe Recco 21. Kitchen Interior with Copper Ware, Octopus, and Onions
on a Stone Ledge oil on canvas, 39 ³/₈ × 49 ³/₁₆ in ₍100 × 125 cm₎ paris, galerie canesso This highly poetic work appeared at auction (Christie’s, Milan, 29 November 2006, lot 81) correctly attributed to Giuseppe Recco. The composition is arranged on three levels, as implied by the quadrangular grey stone base and ledge, and by the objects themselves – herring, salted cod, onions, octopus, plates, pieces of tuna, mezzina ewers, dried fruit, and a knife. Everything on display is arranged in an orderly manner on surfaces whose presence seems arbitrarily dictated by how the provisions are posed. An ascending diagonal crosses the image, moving from the overturned ewer in the lower left corner to the piece of tuna on a majolica plate at upper right. Some cardoons, a grater, what is left of a fire (with a shovel for ashes), and a rough knife emerge from the smoky penumbral space at the edges of the canvas, suggesting a subdued quotidian element that seems contradicted by the completely cerebral construction of the fully-lit objects. The sequence of plates poised in the niche, with their abstract shadows and the absolutely
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Recco – Luca Giordano, Fishmonger, Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts.
geometrical sliver of light that defines them, is balanced by other equally mimetic passages, such as the skin of the octopus, and its weightiness, conveyed with prodigious skill, and the traces of oxidation on the ewer, which although only visible on close inspection, adds to the overall effect of vivid naturalism. The Kitchen Interior with Sutler, signed and dated “Gios. Recco F. 167…” (Naples, Pagano collection) has a pile of plates on the shelf, a roll of paper containing some precious spice, and nails and pot handles that cast precise, sharp shadows on the table, as in the present canvas. Likewise, a large Fishmonger (fig. 1) datable to the 1670s in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, with figures painting seemingly by Luca Giordano, contains pieces of pink tuna with a prominent white strip of fat – which allows the artist to create powerful touches of light along one of the composition’s diagonals – and a ewer, whose forceful position in space is underlined, as in our canvas, by the fact that it is overturned. The Kitchen Interior in the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, signed and dated “Gios. Recco 1675” contains sprouting onions above the mantelpiece that seem scorched by the bright and vigorous fire burning in the hearth. Finally, the Kitchen Interior with Fish, signed “G…e Recco F.” (formerly London, Matthiesen Gallery) – with its system of stone blocks, the sideways arrangements of fish, and pots and metal covers balanced here and there – is perhaps the composition that most closely resembles our canvas; but whereas we believe it to be datable to the 1670s, ours belongs to the preceding decade. The blocks of stone found in Spanish paintings, and typical of Recco, appear sporadically in the work of other Neapolitan genre painters, though usually more connected with the narrative, setting the scene in a precise context. The large canvas with Saltwater Fish and Oysters by Giovan Battista Recco in Besançon, signed “G. B. Recco”, displays its fish on high blocks; but Giovan Battista Ruoppolo also made use of this motif in his early masterpiece with Fruit and Vegetables in a Landscape, formerly with the Galleria Sapori in Spoleto and now in a private collection. claudia salvi
Giuseppe Recco 22. Fish, Lobster, Squid, Jug and Pot
on a Rocky Shelf oil on canvas, 37 ¹/₈ × 48 in ₍94.3 × 122 cm₎ initialled on stone block at upper right: “g.r.” private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎ The scene is set with a beautiful display of fish and kitchen utensils, and the forms are arranged according to tonal progression, from the bronze of the jug to the copper of the pot, culminating in the fiery red of the scorpion fish in the foreground. The objects weave along the lines of light, and like the contained splendour of the painter’s palette, become accented by the cold, mother-of-pearl tonalities of the other fish and molluscs placed on the margin of the principal ray of light; in turn, these are treated by the artist as reflecting surfaces that fragment the light into myriad glittering touches. Placed on a rocky ledge above, a lobster closes off the composition, its wiry limbs seeming to capture flashes of light from the surrounding darkness. Giuseppe Recco offers his viewers a musical composition, muted in sound and evocative of the mystery of the sea, notwithstanding the sparkling of the humid fish scales, the water drops on the waveworn rock and even the accents of vivid colour on the fish and molluscs. Chronologically, our still life can be placed among the artist’s masterpieces of the late 1660s, close to the pair of canvases in the Molinari Pradelli collection, dated
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Recco, Kitchen Interior with Cat, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
by scholars to about 1670; the Still Life with Fish (formerly in Rome, Canessa collection); and theKitchen Interior with Cat (fig. 1, New York Metropolitan Museum of Art; Volpe, in Naples-Zurich-Rotterdam 1964-1965, p. 47, no. 69, pl. V; no. 70, fig. 30a; Causa, 1972, fig. 415; Middione, 1989b, II, p. 903). This group of canvases shares a close viewpoint, allowing for a composition that is calibrated, relatively spare, and elegant in spite of the subject – a pile of seaweed, utensils and fish on a rocky shelf. As they evoke the plated shell of a crustacean or the sheen of a mullet, the touches of colour meld into a warm tonality found in all the still lifes of the artist’s early maturity, between 1669 and 1679. If Recco’s output of the 1650s – his initial period – still remains little known, his later career, well-documented through a number of signed and dated canvases, reveals the artist’s individuality. Although De Dominici records that Paolo Porpora was one of Giuseppe’s teachers, it was Giovan Battista Recco who really had a decisive influence on our painter, perceptible both in subject matter and in the arrangement of objects. The artist’s displays of fish and utensils recall the exquisitely intellectual settings of Spanish still lifes, although Recco combines this with a more cheerful, festive narration, inherited from Flemish painting. The articulation of forms, and how these resound compositionally, clearly pay homage to Juan Van der Hamen (1596-1631), as does the choice of neutral backgrounds that later give way to authentic marine scenes. On the other hand, the raw, vivid quality of the painter’s touch as it defines fish, molluscs, shells, and crustaceans would not have been possible without an awareness of works by Flemish painters, which were well known in Naples, as has been proved by Labrot (1992). Indeed, it was with his still life scenes of fish, with or without utensils, that Giuseppe Recco established a truly Neapolitan approach to the subject, as already celebrated by De Dominici in the next century (1742-1745, III, p. 296). claudia salvi
Giuseppe Recco 23. Copper Vessels with Fish and Squid oil on canvas, 28 ¹⁵/₁₆ × 39 in ₍73.5 × 99 cm₎ private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎
literature. Pagano, in MadridSalamanca, 2005, pp. 62-63, no. 26. exhibitions. Madrid-Salamanca, 2005, pp. 62-63, no. 26.
This is a beautiful work, and Giuseppe is seen here at his best, appearing in a subtle discourse with certain works by Giovan Battista Recco. The horizontal composition develops along a plane, with a measured progress from one element to the next, and volume and colour carefully conveyed, as was so often typical of Giuseppe Recco. The chipped stone surface, the whiting and squid, and the various types of concole with sparkling, golden reflections are compositionally divided by the verticals of the long-necked container, and at the far left, sticking out slightly, by the seabass and cod hanging from a cord on a hook. Light falls from above, dramatically revealing the mass of the hanging fish and creating a decisive diagonal along the background while one luminous ray defines the thickness of the rope. Giuseppe Recco’s palette is almost monochromatic, with silver and opal-accented browns that materialise in the pair of fish and squid. As we have seen in the canvas with the spider crab (cat. no. 20), the painter had already made effective use of monochrome tonalities, and both these works may therefore be placed between his youthful period and early maturity – that is, in about 1660/1665. The keen memory of works by Giovan Battista
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Recco, Kitchen Interior with Fish, formerly London, Matthiesen Gallery.
Recco would support this dating, and we are thinking here especially of his Fish (formerly I. Brass collection, Venice; De Logu, 1964, p. 22) where the objects are set in a pyramidal composition, with a highly naturalistic rendering of two fish hanging from a beam that recurs in another signed and dated canvas (private collection; cat. no. 5), considered to be one of Giovan Battista’s masterpieces. In the latter painting, the Caravaggesque naturalism shared by both Giovan Battista and Giuseppe is articulated on different levels, touched with a range of periwinkle blues and mysteriously evoking the objects’ inner life, whereas the younger Recco’s composition, based not so much on distant blues and greys but on golden browns, depends on a more dramatic concept, with a complex range of formal and chromatic echoes that also appear in the Fish, Lobster, Squid, Jug and Pot on a Rocky Shelf (cat. no. 22). Giuseppe Recco’s voice is also quite distinct from that of the older painter, even if in works of this calibre he pays obvious tribute to Giovan Battista. While the motif of vertical fish may be indebted to his predecessor, it reappears in an ambitious canvas signed “G…e Recco F.” in which a kitchen interior is dominated by three fish hanging on a cord (fig. 1; formerly London, Matthiesen Gallery). This picture however, appears to belong to a slightly later moment, as suggested by its more vivid colouring, allowing us to note that Giuseppe Recco remained faithful to some of his earlier pictorial ideas. With works such as this, our painter appears to produce a sort of synthesis of both Spanish and naturalistic paintings, and yet goes beyond them. The fish is not the subject of the viewer’s gaze in a fixed, abstracted way, as it would have been in Spain even shortly before this date, but rather – in line with Caravaggio’s naturalism – its metaphysical dimension relates to reality rather than form; and in the subtle dialogue between form and reality, we believe that this represents Giuseppe Recco’s most authentic contribution to the great age of international still life painting. claudia salvi
Giuseppe Recco 24. Scorpion Fish, two Sea Bass and a Squid
A Squid, Oysters, and Razor Clams oil canvas, 13 ³/₈ × 18 ¹/₈ in ₍34 × 46 cm₎ each private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎
literature. Damian, 2002, pp. 26-27; Scarpa, in Florence, 2003, pp. 218-219; Scarpa, in MadridSalamanca, 2005, pp. 64-65. exhibitions. Florence, 2003, pp. 218-219; Madrid-Salamanca, 2005, pp. 64-65.
The tight composition and close-up focus of these two little pictures is surprisingly modern, with drama and poetry closely intertwined. They are at the heart of the Neapolitan fish still life tradition, inherited by the artist from his supposed uncle Giovan Battista Recco as well as from the early work of Paolo Porpora. Giuseppe Recco’s realism is still tinged with naturalism here – something worth noting at such a late stage in the seventeenth century. Scarpa (2003, p. 218) dated these paintings to the period 1670-1680, suggesting convincing stylistic parallels with two compositions of Fish and Copper Containers (Naples, private collection; Middione, in Munich-Florence, 2002-2003, pp. 208209), and even more closely with Fish and Copper Pot, one of a pair of canvases (Naples, private collection; Middione, in Naples, 1984-1985, p. 394, no. 2.187a). These paintings share the same arrangement of a rough-hewn stone supporting a limited number of items, and a parsimonious use of light. Our canvases are particularly inventive and courageous, though, describing solely the fruit of the sea without the support of the utensils or containers that conventionally accompany still lifes of this kind and relate them to kitchen scenes. Indeed we
would be at a loss to define the locations here: placed on stone ledges, fish and seafood are set against a neutral background, lit by a soft ray of light from the left that directly recalls the world of Caravaggio. The reflections assume material form through generous applications of pure white pigment as the artist obviously seeks to make the moisture and sparkle of the scales emerge from the penumbral background. The extraordinary brushwork and surreal tonalities that swirl around the insides of the oysters almost seem abstract, yet they reflect a directness and fidelity of observation that lingers on the expressive qualities of form and colour, and the touches of blue and red become artistic hallmarks. While these works are not Recco’s most theatrical or Baroque, they do illustrate one of his most intimate and lyrical moments. The sobriety of the image and its compactness go hand in hand with the descriptive vigour of the powerful silvery reflections. What we see is a decisive search for an intense depiction of the “truth”, and the combination of visual acuteness and painstaking study of pictorial effects enables Giuseppe Recco to bring new life to the genre. vronique damian
Giuseppe Recco 25. Fish and Molluscs oil on canvas, 29 ¹⁵/₁₆ × 40 ³/₁₆ in ₍76 × 102 cm₎ naples, museo diego aragona pignatelli cortes ₍intesa sanpaolo collection₎
literature. Molajoli, 1953, p. 46; Bottari, 1961, pp. 354-361; Middione, in Spinosa, 1984b, pp. 78-80; Middione, 1989b, II, p. 904; Tecce, 1998, p. 36; Scarpa, 2004b, pp. 132-133. exhibitions. Tecce, in Naples, 1989, pp. 50-51.
This painting is a characteristic example of a “rock” composition (“di scoglio”) by Giuseppe Recco, whose depictions of fish, crabs, tortoises, shells and shellfish made his reputation. De Dominici considered this part of his oeuvre “eccellente più che di altra specie nei suoi dipinti, tuttoché naturalissima ed ottimamente effigiasse ogni cosa” (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, p. 295). Recco was a member of a family who specialised in still life painting, and owed his fame to his depictions of marine life, although he was equally interested – with similarly spectacular results – in flowers, fruits, and pantry compositions, as well as other genre scenes. Giuseppe Recco was trained in painting from nature, and his late phase reflects the Baroque influence of the Flemish painter Abraham Brueghel, a style which Giovan Battista Ruoppolo made his own. Recco’s settings consist of rocks or beaches close to dark grottoes and balanced by airy backgrounds inspired by Luca Giordano. This painting displays a variety of marine fauna, available to the artist’s gaze on a daily basis in the fishmongers’ stands of a port city such as Naples, lying piled up on a rock but still pulsing with life, and mingled with seaweed and shells. Transparent plays of light touch the shiny bream on the extreme right and the grey mullet in the middle, while the bright reds of the scorpion fish and red mullet and the silvery whites of the squid provide highlights in a composition built on browns and earth tones. This humid tangle of picturesque nature echoes some of the sensuality and mysterious penumbra of Porpora’s forest floor paintings, and its attentive handling of colour is accompanied by vibrant surface light and precision of touch. The painter always remained true to representing the physicality of objects through a solid study of forms, ensuring their tactile presence. The concept is disciplined and rational, of a kind often based on well-established iconography; but the sweeping composition and decorative character, the play of forms and shifting curves built on intersecting orthogonals, and the scenic opening onto a cloud-filled sky enable us to place the work in Recco’s maturity. By this point he had
moved beyond arranging fish on a stone ledge, juxtaposed with objects from daily life, and set in interiors. Examples of this earlier kind of work include the signed pair of pictures with Fish and Copper Pot and Fish and Copper Bucket formerly in the Marmo collection and now in the Lucà d’Azio collection (Middione, in Munich-Florence, 2002-2003, pp. 208-209); the Fish and Copper Container in a Neapolitan private collection (Middione, in Naples, 1984-1985, I, no. 2.187a); and the canvases in the Molinari Pradelli collection initialled “G.R.”, a Still Life with Fish, Copper Container, Bucket and Vase of Flowers and a Still Life with Fish, Copper Pot and Amphora (Stagni, in Bologna, 1984, nos. 13a, b). Instead, the more ample, Baroque sense of decoration connects this painting with other, similar works – the canvas in the Prado with Fish, Squid and Tortoises (Spinosa, 1984a, fig. 619); the Fish, Shells and Corals in a private collection (De Vito, 1988, pp. 65-127, fig. 24); the pair of canvases in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Besançon, with Fish and Crustaceans and Fish and Shells (ibid., pp. 98-99, figs. 17-18); and larger compositions such as the Still Life with Fish and Turtle on a Rock in the Capodimonte Museum (Molajoli, 1964, p. 56), preceded by the privately-owned canvas signed and dated 1666 (Naples-Zurich-Rotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 46 no. 65). This last painting repeats the motif of the fishing boat at upper left, which recurs in the later picture in the Uffizi, signed “EQS Rco” and dated 1691. Middione made a striking parallel with a canvas in the Museum in Poznán, Poland, where there exists a very similar composition and arrangement of elements against the background, not to mention identical painterly handling (Middione, in Spinosa, 1984b, p. 80). As Causa wrote, we may find here the same “decadente abbandono crepuscolare nell’indagine delle superfici, fonte di innumerevoli emozioni” and a “suprema, distillata bravura da vero virtuoso [...] a unificare e rendere coerenti e consonanti espliciti arcaismi e slanci barocchi” (Causa, 1972, p. 1021 f.). denise maria pagano
Giuseppe Recco 26. Cut Tulips on a Bronze Tray
Tulips and Roses on a Pewter Tray both initialled “g.r.” near lower edge oil on canvas, 14 ³/₁₆ × 18 ¹/₈ in ₍36 × 46 cm₎ each private collection
literature. De Vito, 1988, p. 72, figs. 22-23, pls. II-III; Zabel Settanni, 1998, pp. 154, 163, note 54, fig. 7.
First published by De Vito in his 1988 essay on Giuseppe and Giacomo Recco, these two canvases are unique of their kind. Nothing similar is known, although Recco often used trays of this sort in larger compositions, as in the Tray of Fish with a Mountainous Landscape and Castle (fig. 1; Rome, 1989, pp. 70-71, no. 40) or in the still life with Watermelon, Mushrooms and Wood Berries (cat. 28). Having said this, and apart from the fact that the initials are those often used by Recco, the pictures are characteristic works by this master. The chipped stone base, dark background, and lively range of vermilion reds streaked with whitish-pink or whitish-grey used to describe tulips and crushed roses with a bloodred heart, are all hallmarks of our painter. The beauty of these two canvases also lies in the close-up format and extremely simple composition that Recco combines with an explosion of colour in the tulips – almost protagonists here – underlining how expressive such a composition can be. The fine white line that defines the edge of the pewter tray and suggests its reflective surface is the sole, simple indication that the platter is there, and has the same function. Even if De Vito did not suggest a date, he noted the connection with the work of Porpora, thus indicating a relatively early period in Recco’s career. Giuseppe Recco painted in various genres and adapted his representation of flowers to a variety of formats, probably
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Recco, Tray of Fish with a Mountainous Landscape and Castle, formerly Rome, Galleria Lampronti.
tailored to the tastes of his clients. This was the case with the pair of Flowers in a Vase Decorated with Reliefs painted in 1683-1684 for John, Fifth Earl of Exeter to decorate a room in Burghley House. The Baroque, hybrid sensibility somewhere between Jan Fyt (1611-1661) and Andrea Belvedere reflects the wish of this patron, who was already surrounded by Flemish works of art (De Vito, 1988, p. 70), to provide a unified decoration for his stately home. On the other hand, a more spare approach, with one or two tulips, a lily, a single or double anemone next to a plate loaded with sweets, as in the Still Life with Sweets in the Collection of Intesa Sanpaolo (Naples, Villa Pignatelli), or in the painting in the Museo Civico, Pesaro, could reflect moral dictates telling us to enjoy life’s pleasures more moderately; this was probably also planned by a patron following Spanish convention (Pérez Sánchez, 1987, p. 5152) or it may have alluded to some ceremony “tra il sacro e il profano” (De Vito, 1988, p. 69). Another exquisitely Neapolitan tradition was displayed in the depictions of wine coolers full of flowers by Abraham Brueghel (1631-1697), and also by Filippo Napoletano (1589?-1629) and Francesco Della Questa (c. 1639-1723), as seen in a signed work by the latter recently on the art market (Sotheby’s, New York, 8 June 2007, lot 281). Recco’s work also included fine displays of glass, which – as suggested in recent research by Borrelli (1988, p. 30) – was locally manufactured rather than imported from Venice, and an example of this is the beautiful painting in the Muzeum Narodowe, Warsaw, possibly a celebration of a prominent Neapolitan collection. The idea was reworked by Recco in a spectacular version in the Medinaceli collection, dated 1679 and including a depiction of a young moor, no doubt another likely record of a prestigious collection (Pérez Sánchez, in Madrid, 1985, p. 256) – unless it was the painter’s own, as Borrelli suggests in a stimulating interpretation of this painting (1988, p. 30). We may thus appreciate Giuseppe Recco as a painter whose flexibility won him broad approval. Our pictures stands out for their originality even in a general European context, and Recco may have painted them for himself, as an expression of style and as models for future, larger compositions. claudia salvi
Giuseppe Recco 27. Vase of Flowers with Anemones and Tulips initialled “g.pe r.”
Vase of Flowers with Roses and Tulips signed “gios. recco” oil on canvas, 24 × 18 ¹¹/₁₆ in ₍61 × 47.5 cm₎ each private collection
literature. Middione in Munich, 2002-2003, p. 210; Middione in Florence, 2003, pp. 210-211. exhibitions. Munich, 2002-2003, p. 210; Florence, 2003, pp. 210-211.
These two paintings were most likely purchased very early on by the Lazzari D’Alojsio family of Messina; the family was originally from Naples. The back of each canvas bears a label and wax seal with their name and emblem. Giuseppe Recco rarely painted vases of flowers without surrounding them by other objects such as glasses, musical instruments, or stemmed plates piled with sweets. Here the cabbage roses with their deep red centers are gathered around the lip of the vase, reminding us of Porpora but also, perhaps, of Abraham Brueghel (16311697) and Jan Fyt (1611-1661). The roses are complemented by erect tulips towering above them, with the silvery reflection of one tulip reflected on the blue vase. There are only about ten similar pictures by Porpora. At the exhibition of still life painting organized by Mina Gregori (2002-2003), Middione suggested placing these two pictures in the artist’s early maturity, especially considering a comparison with the Cut Tulips in a private collection (cat. no. 26). De Vito, too, felt that the parallels with Paolo Porpora suggest an early dating (1988, p. 72). This echoes the statement by the biographer De Dominici, who stated that the artist began his career with flower painting: “attese a dipingere i suoi bei quadri […] facendo dapprima molti quadri di fiori, e da noi si veggono molti suoi vasi in misura perlopiù di tre palmi per alto” (1742-1745, III, p. 296). The simplicity of the subject may well have been imposed by patron, rather than a specific “stylistic phase” of the artist; Recco is known to have painted bouquets of flowers at different times in his career. The high stone pedestal that appears in two other of Giuseppe’s Vases of Flowers (published as Giacomo Recco by Causa, 1961, figs. 155a-b),
as well as the use of Neapolitan-style coloured glass vases (Borrelli, 1988, p. 30), and with the archaic compositional style, all recall the work of Antonio Ponce (1608-1687). The Spanish influence was widely felt in Naples especially between 1675 and 1687 during the period of two important Viceroys: first the Marchese de Los Velez, Viceroy from 1675 to 1682 – indeed Recco was “the painter of the Marchese de Los Velez” (Burke – Cherry, 1997, I, p. 761; see Fumagalli, in De Dominici [ed. Sricchia Santoro – Zezza], II, forthcoming); and then the Marchese del Carpio, Viceroy from 1683 to 1687. The latter inherited still lifes by Van der Hamen (1596-1631), Juan De Espinosa (documented 1628-1659) and Labrador (documented 1630; see Burke, 1984, II, p. 213 f.) from his father. Del Carpio planned to create an academy of Spanish painters in Rome, but the project failed due to lack of support from the Spanish court (Anselmi, 2007, p. 88). The Spanish character of the two pieces might have come from a collector of Spanish still lifes who wished to acquire a comparable “Neapolitan” work, and perhaps – like today – this brought with it questions of economy. Archival research also confirms that such collections of paintings could reflect a collector’s individual taste and sense of order: in the important seventeenthcentury Spanish collection of Domingo de Soria Arteaga, a painting of grapes by Labrador is related not only thematically but also stylistically to one by Bonzi (1576c. 1636) of a simliar subject (Jordan – Cherry in London, 1995, p. 190). Finally, the influence of Luca Forte is also felt in the curl of the tulip petals, which overlap one another like thinly-hammered metal, and in the dazzling light that defines their form. claudia salvi
Giuseppe Recco 28. Slices of Watermelon on a Pewter Tray, with Mushrooms and Fruit oil on canvas, 29 ¹/₈ × 39 in ₍74 × 99 cm₎ signed “gios. r.” ₍“g” and “i” attached₎ on rock surface at lower right paris, galerie canesso
literature. Schulze, 1972, p. 99, pl. II; Causa, 1972, fig. 412; Tufts, 1985, p. 45, fig. 48.
This still life of fruit was in the collection of the First National Bank of Chicago (Schulze, 1972, p. 99, pl. II), before recently appearing at a Christie’s sale in New York (17 October 2006, lot 228). The composition is arranged
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Recco, Pears, Pomegranates, Quince, Jasmine, and Slices of Watermelon on a Tray, formerly Adelfi, Palazzo Marchesale.
Fig. 2 — Giuseppe Recco, Fruit, Ducks, Mushrooms, and other Birds in a Landscape, Naples, Capodimonte Museum.
on two levels beside a knife that is delicately balanced on the rocky surface where we begin our reading of the painting. The knife also points toward the signature, with the “G” attached to the “I”, as often occurs in Recco’s work. Luscious slices of watermelon are arranged on a pewter tray whose surface is suggested by the touches of uneven light, while its edges reflect the redness of the fruit and produce lively contrasts. The shapes and colours of a few golden-capped mushrooms, quince, pomegranates, and two kinds of cherries echo the tray of watermelon as the main subject of the piece. The prominent tray motif recurs in another still life formerly in the Palazzo Marchesale in Adelfi (fig. 1), published by Galante as by Giovan Battista Ruoppolo and dated to the 1650s (Galante, 1989, p. 971, no. 1184). Our painting shows the artist unquestionably comparing his own talents with those of his contemporary – a quality confirmed by the painting in the Palazzo Marchesale, which should be reattributed to Giuseppe Recco – although the composition of the Adelfi canvas is slightly more free, reminding us more of Ruoppolo’s groupings of ripe fruits in his later period. Its signature apart, this work certainly conforms to the characteristics of Recco’s oeuvre. It is comparable to the large composition of Fruit, Ducks, Mushrooms, and other Birds in a Landscape in the Capodimonte Museum (fig. 2), signed and dated “Gios. Recco 1672” and described by Causa as “finitissima in alcuni punti e solo abbozzata in altri” (“highly finished in some passages and merely sketched in other places”; Causa, 1972, p. 1021). Here the painter literally reproduces several formal elements of our painting, such as the cluster of mushrooms next to the quince, and the basket of red and yellow cherries. Despite its smaller size, the present canvas also exhibits a formal density, strongly painted shadows, and a friezelike yet compact development of a copious display of fruit, vegetables, and animals that correspond to the larger work. We may therefore propose that it was painted in the same period as the picture at Capodimonte. claudia salvi
Giuseppe Recco 29. The Five Senses oil on canvas, 29 ¹⁵/₁₆ × 41 ⁵/₁₆ in ₍76 × 105 cm₎ signed and dated on the lute: “gios: recco / f. 1676” private collection
on the reverse of the relined canvas, the letters “sg” appear under a ducal coronet ₍collector’s mark of the infante don sebastian gabriel de borbon y braganza₎. the number 23 appears inscribed on a round label. literature. De Logu, 1962, pp. 139140, fig. 87; Ghidiglia Quintavalle, in Parma, 1964, p. 87, no. 65; Bologna, in Bergamo, 1968, fig. 45; Martin – Mery, in Bordeaux, 1969, p. 30, no. 55, fig. 33; Causa, 1972, p. 1021; Sterling, 1981, p. 87, fig. 57 bis; Veca, 1982, fig. 265; Marini, in Rome, 1984, pp. 42-43, no. 12; Salerno, 1984, p. 214; Spinosa, 1984, no. 624; Middione, in Naples, 1984-1985, p. 170; Loire, in MarseilleNaples, 1988-1989, p. 224; Middione, 1989b, p. 903, no. 1094; Proni, in Cremona, 1996-1997, pp. 248-249; Zuffi, 1999, p. 272. exhibitions. Parma, 1964, p. 87, no. 65; Rotterdam, 1965, no. 57a; Bergamo, 1968, fig. 45; Bordeaux, 1969, p. 30, no. 55, fig. 33; Rome, 1984, pp. 42-43, no. 12; Cremona, 1996-1997, pp. 248-249.
The monogram “SG” surmounted by a ducal coronet, painted on the back of the canvas, indicates that the painting was in the collection of the Infante Don Sebastian Gabriel of Bourbon and Braganza (1811-1875). This enlightened amateur was a member of the junior branch of the Spanish Royal family, being the grandson of the Infante Gabriel, brother of King Charles IV of Spain; he established a collection of fine paintings (Águeda Villar, 2003, pp. 49-63). A romantic character and occasional painter, Don Sebastian was one of the leaders of the Carlist insurrection of 1835, after which the Liberal government confiscated his collection, which was held in the Museo de la Trinidad in Madrid, where an inventory was drawn up. This inventory, published by Águeda (1982, pp. 102-117) does not include our painting, nor the canvas by Andrea de Lione in the Musée du Louvre that was also in this collection (Loire, 2006, pp. 200-201). Our picture must have entered the collection later, no doubt as part of the inheritance of his first wife, Maria Amalia of Naples (1818-1857), daughter of Francis I, King of Naples and the Two Sicilies (1777-1830). Don Sebastian was next married to Maria Cristina de Borbón, Infanta of Spain, and was exiled in Pau in 1868, together with his goods which had meanwhile been returned to him. His collection was exhibited in Pau in 1876, the year after his death, and the paintings subsequently returned to Spain where they were dispersed by his heirs at two public auctions (Paris, 3 February 1890 and Madrid, October 1902). Águeda Villar has discovered that our work is mentioned in two unpublished Spanish inventories. The first dates from 19 June 1875 (Madrid, Archivo del Palacio Real), in which a simple list
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Recco, Still Life with Bread, Biscuits and Flowers, Naples, Museo Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes (Intesa Sanpaolo collection).
includes “Reco 3.000 pesetas” as number 73 (turned by a mistranscription into the “23” on the back of our relined canvas). This appears to be a correct identification, since the same work reappears with more detailed itemisation in an inventory of 1887: “no 1398 Recco, Escuela Napolitana. Bodegón con guitarra, flores y confites, de 0,78 por 1,32. Valorado en 500 pesetas” (Madrid, Archivo Histórico de Protocolos). While the height corresponds to that of our painting, the inventory assigns a greater figure to its horizontal dimensions, perhaps the consequence of careless measurement or mistranscription. Giuseppe Recco has placed his signature and date (1676) on an elegant work, rich in symbolism and allowing him to go beyond the mere representation of inanimate objects by investing them with allegorical content. We shall adopt the interpretation of the five senses as provided by Maria Silvia Proni (Cremona, 1996-1997, pp. 248-249). In the foreground, our view is drawn in by a platter of sweets extending over the edge of the tabletop – a reference to the pleasures of both taste and touch. The lute and open musical score are there to evoke hearing as well as touch (in the plucking of strings). The telescope and spectacles allude unquestionably to sight, the eyes being already directly involved through the contemplation of the scene itself. The small chest covered in red velvet and the heavy cloth on the marble surface also refer to the sense of touch. The clock in the background alludes to the inexorable passing of time, which takes the viewer into the more Northern-inspired world of the Vanitas and Memento Mori. Finally, a classic reference to the sense of smell is made by the spring flowers – tulips, narcissi, hyacinths and anemones – that gracefully emerge from a crystal vase. This allegory belongs to a uniform group of works painted between 1675 and 1680 which blend a number of new and unusual elements into the Neapolitan tradition and beg the question of contacts with the Lombard painter Evaristo Baschenis (1607-1677) and his circle, whose influence also extends to smoother brushwork and more intense tonalities. Works stylistically close to ours include the Display of Glass and Flowers in Warsaw (Muzeum Narodowe), the Still Life with Bread, Biscuits and Flowers (Naples, Museo Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes; fig. 1) and the Flowers and Sugared Sweets on a Silver Tray (Pesaro, Museo Civico), all distinguished by Recco’s direct handling of light, more diffuse than in his fish still lifes and kitchen interiors. vronique damian
Giuseppe Recco – Francesco Solimena 30. Young Boy with a Parakeet and Flowers oil on canvas, 25 × 34 ¹¹/₁₆ in ₍63.5 × 88 cm₎ private collection
Young Girl with Bunch of Flowers oil on canvas, 24.8 × 34 ⁵/₈ in ₍63 × 88 cm₎ private collection
Young Girl with Flowers oil on canvas, 25 ³/₁₆ × 35 ⁷/₁₆ in ₍64 × 90 cm₎ rome, private collection
Young Girl with Dog and Flowers oil on canvas, 25 ³/₁₆ × 35 ⁷/₁₆ in ₍64 × 90 cm₎ naples, private collection
literature. Bologna, 1958, pp. 67, 129, note 50, 266, figs. 96-97; Causa, 1972, p. 1049, note 88; Volpe – Benati, in Milan, 1981, under no. 4; Middione, in Paris, 1983, p. 255; Middione, in Naples, 1984-1985, p. 170; Middione, 1989b, p. 903.
These four works of near-identical dimensions, housed in different collections but doubtless originally forming a series related to the Senses, are here reunited, never having been exhibited together in modern times. When he published them in his monograph on Solimena (1657-1747) in 1958, Bologna believed the early attribution of the figures to this painter was unassailable. The inventory of the Garzilli collection in Naples also gave the figures to Solimena, while the floral passages were attributed to Andrea Belvedere (c. 1652-1732). Bologna compared the style of the flowers to that of Giuseppe Recco in his late period, an opinion seconded by Causa (1972). Volpe and Benati (1981) expressed reservations, while only discussing two of the four canvases (which led to the others being overlooked in subsequent research), preferring to consider the authorship of a genre painter somewhere between Giuseppe Recco and Andrea Belvedere, the latter’s name being the one listed in the Garzilli archives. It should be added that – reliably or not – De Dominici (1742-1745, III, p. 575) had mentioned the collaboration of Belvedere and Solimena. Finally, Middione referred to the doubts expressed by Volpe and Benati, nonetheless classifying the paintings under Giuseppe Recco (1983, 1984-1985, 1989b). As regards the figures (not the focus of our attention here, though we may wonder whether all are indeed by Solimena), Bologna dated them to shortly after 1690, which must also apply to the flowers. In presentation more than handling, these recall Giuseppe Recco rather
than Belvedere, and this holds true of the stone or cut marble ledges, typical of his last works such as the Still Life with Flowers, Fruits, and Biscuits (Spoleto, Galleria Sapori; Middione, 1989b, p. 911, fig. 1100). Parallels exist, too, in the cut flowers on an unevenlybalanced tray, the terracotta vases with tulips – although the Baroque spirit of flowers with wide-open petals corresponds little to Recco’s treatment of the same subjects – and the description of the biscuit set on the stone surface. Likewise, part of this vocabulary includes a wreath of flowers, a motif favoured by Abraham Brueghel (1631-1697), which recurs here as a citation. The brushwork, sometimes overemphatic in the description of petals – as one can see here, for example, in the flowers lying on the marble table – betrays a lack of spontaneity. These last qualities point to the following of Giuseppe Recco, and the exhibition may help in resolving the question of attribution. In any event the series elicits fascinating questions, beyond the obvious ones relating to the collaboration of a figure painter and a specialist in still life, such as how the paintings were received and understood. One remains intrigued by their likely destination as allegorical representations of the Senses : Taste (the young boy offering cherries to the parakeet, with a biscuit on the surface nearby), Smell (the young woman smelling a flower), Touch (the little girl petting the dog), and Sight (the young girl arranging a bouquet by replacing dead flowers with fresh ones). vronique damian
Giovan Battista Ruoppolo naples 1629 1693 Posterity was kinder to Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, a major figure of seventeenth-century Neapolitan still life painting, than to his slightly older contemporary, Giuseppe Recco. De Dominici devoted a well-informed Life to the artist (1742-1745, III, pp. 293-295), but we owe thanks to Prota-Giurleo for having discovered his primary biographical information: the son of a majolica painter, he was born in Naples on 5 April 1629 and died in the same city on 17 January 1693 (Prota-Giurleo, 1953, pp. 17-18); one of his elder brothers joined their father in the same profession. Prota-Giurleo assumes that Giovan Battista either worked as a young man in the same workshop, occasionally painting motifs of fruits, fish, or birds or was at least familiar with his brother’s workplace, since at the age of twenty-six he married Teresa Congiusto, the daughter of the majolica painter for whom his father worked; their union produced nine children between the years 1656 and 1680. De Dominici says that he was the student of Paolo Porpora, but if this apprenticeship took place it must have happened early on, before Porpora’s departure for Rome, where his presence is documented in 1650. This master’s lessons were crucial in teaching his young pupil the way “to see everything as it is in nature” (“vedere ogni cosa dal naturale”), but his biographer quickly adds that Ruoppolo soon surpassed his master by finding that “certain something else” (“qualcosa in più”) and specialising in the painting of fruits, especially grapes. Unfortunately no documentation confirms these early years of study, when he must have been strongly influenced by Porpora and the highly naturalistic work of Luca Forte (1600/1605- before 1670). Further uncertainty in authenticating his early work arises from the similarity of his initials – the famous monogram G.B.R. – with those of Giovan Battista Recco (see the biography). However, some characteristics of his early work, particularly his predisposition to
paint fruit, especially grapes, distinguish him from his elder. According to De Dominici, “dell’uva fece studio particolare” (“he made a special study of grapes”), as well as copper ware, which became his speciality. Paolo Porpora must certainly have encouraged him to paint still lifes of fish, an area where he excelled brilliantly, judging from the fine painting signed Giovan Battista Ruoppolo in the Museo di San Martino in Naples; the attribution of all other pieces on this subject must be compared to this one. Ruoppolo’s work immediately demonstrates to us that he did not merely follow Porpora and Luca Forte but instead quickly found his own more eclectic style that was still dominated by the reigning naturalism of the day. We have only to think of the Still Life with Bread and Vegetables (Naples, Capodimonte Museum), the very fine signed composition of Celery and Guelder Roses (Oxford, Ashmolean Museum), the Still Life with Fruit, Fish, and a Dead Bird (Naples, Galante Ciollaro collection), as well as the Still Life with Fish (Naples, private collection; for the latter two, see Middione in Naples, 1984-1985, p. 434, n. 2.221 and p. 436, n. 2.223). We close our survey of Ruoppolo’s production in the 1650s with the beautiful still life of Fruit and Vegetables in a Landscape (private collection, fig. 1; Middione 1989c, pp. 916, 918, fig. 1107), which already marks the transition toward the layers of various fruit that he painted later, examples of which include the superb picture shown here (cat. no. 34) and the painting in a private collection in Madrid published by Pérez Sánchez (in Madrid, 1985, pp. 292-293, no. 123). De Dominici would have us believe that Ruoppolo was the most fashionable painter of his day. The biographer assures us that Ruoppolo’s work decorated the homes of “molti signori” in Naples, before spreading abroad to the Netherlands, where many paintings arrived either through the dealer-collector Gaspar Roomer, who
Fig. 1 — Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, Fruit and Vegetables in a Landscape,
Fig. 2 — Giovan Battista Ruoppolo – Luca Giordano, Allegory of
Autumn, Netherlands, private collection.
was originally from Antwerp, although his inventory of paintings mentions no specific artists by name (Ruotolo, 1982, p. 9; Fumagalli, in De Dominici, ed. Sricchia Santoro – Zezza, II, forthcoming), or through the intervention of the banker Vandeneynden, judging from the many references to Ruoppolo in his own inventory, compiled by Luca Giordano (1634-1705) in 1688 (Ruotolo, 1982, p. 17). Furthermore, a payment by Vandeneynden £to Ruoppolo was recorded in 1673 (Ruotolo, 1982, p. 24). By the 1680s Ruoppolo’s art attained its full Baroque splendour in format as well as in decoration. De Dominici tells us that Giovan Battista Ruoppolo collaborated on four of the fourteen different pieces executed for the famous Corpus Domini exhibition in 1684. In what was the most significant contract in the field of Neapolitan still life painting in the second half of the seventeenth century, the pieces were commissioned by the Marchese del Carpio, Viceroy of Naples from 1683-1687; Luca Giordano was given free rein to conceive and develop the artistic project as well as create the figures. In discussing Ruoppolo’s contribution, the biographer explains that two of the pieces represented “fruits, grapes, flowers, and vegetables, and two others fish and other game animals of both fur and feather”. The first two pieces seem to correspond exactly to the two works recently studied and presented by Lattuada (in Naples, 1997-1998, pp. 165-169, nos. 1.11, 1.12). In the first painting long vine branches laden with grapes run the length of the canvas, illustrating a Bacchic motif that is complemented by the Allegory of Autumn (Netherlands, private collection; fig. 2). The second rediscovered painting, Summer (also Netherlands, private collection), demonstrates a supplementary collaboration with Abraham Brueghel (1631-1697; active in Naples from 1675) on the flowers, while Giovan Battista Ruoppolo painted the fruits that cascade from on high down to the ground. To accommodate his patron’s wishes,
Ruoppolo was able to perform the same variations on the grape motif; this talent is confirmed by the two compositions in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and the Museo de Bellas Artes in Seville (Pérez-Sánchez in Madrid, 1985, pp. 294-295, no. 124). This specialisation in the painting of all manner of fruits, which De Dominici emphasises, is further confirmed by excerpts from the inventories published by Labrot (1992, p. 558) which all refer to fruits, with two exceptions: one composition representing flowers and the other, a hunting motif. vronique damian
Giovan Battista Ruoppolo 31. Watermelon, Melon, Figs, Peaches,
and Grapes on a Stone Ledge oil on wood panel, 23 ¼ × 29 ¹/₈ in ₍59 × 74 cm₎ signed at lower right: “g. b. ruoplo” paris, galerie canesso The painter has focused on a close-up of a display of fruit, combining varieties from different seasons in a decorative scheme typical of many still life paintings of the seventeenth century. Arranged on a stone ledge, the peaches, watermelon and cherries evoke summer, while the grapes, figs, pomegranates and pears bring autumn to mind. A broad-weave basket, a stock element of Neapolitan painting, has just spilled its contents, the fruit mixing with vine leaves and jasmine flowers so that the viewer can appreciate every object in the composition. While this is the artist’s only known painting on wood, the style is absolutely typical. The setting, choice of fruits, and strong light falling on objects are admirably matched by a palette dominated by reds and sparkling tonalities. De Dominici states that after having been the pupil of Paolo Porpora, Giovan Battista Ruoppolo sought to distinguish himself from his teacher and began to paint “dell’uva ove fece studio particolare, con altre frutta, le quali egli dipinse assai bene” (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, p. 294). In this context one need only compare the Still Life with Fruit (signed “G. B. Ruoplo”, Naples, private collection; reproduced in Naples, 1984-1985, I, p. 437, no 2.224) in which the surface of the watermelon, moist and pitted by black seeds, is depicted – as in our painting – through a tour de force of imitation. The Still Life’s expansive vine leaves, the shiny skin of the pomegranates,
and the black and white grapes – enjoyed by the painter for their powerful chromatic contrasts – are juxtaposed with white flowers such as tuberoses and jasmine that introduce fragrance and light into a dark picture of unquestionably Caravaggesque origins. Scholars have noted that Ruoppolo’s style here is datable to the second half of the century (Middione, in Naples, 1984-1985, I, p. 437; Middione, 1989c, p. 916; Cottino, 2005, p. 73) and that it reflects the influence of several artists: not only Luca Forte, sensitive to contrasting palettes and vivid presentation of objects, but also Cerquozzi (1602-1660), to whom Ruoppolo looked for opulent compositions of cascading fruit, and above all Abraham Brueghel (1631-1697), who is recorded in Naples from 1675. It was Brueghel who enabled Giovan Battista Ruoppolo to take a more modern approach to his pictures, where the profusion of fruit is paralleled by rich, sometimes giant formats, and surfaces are built up with rapid brushwork. Notwithstanding its more modest dimensions, our Still Life on a Stone Ledge also reflects the poetics of formal and tonal saturation. Once again it is thanks to De Dominici that we can measure Ruoppolo’s impact on contemporary taste; indeed the biographer mentions numerous works by the artist in Neapolitan princely residences (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, p. 294), a statement supported by modern scholarship (Labrot, 1992, p. 558). claudia salvi
Giovan Battista Ruoppolo 32. Char, Bass, Rockfish, Sea Bream, and Shells oil on canvas, 39 ¾ × 27 ¾ in ₍101 × 70.5 cm₎ private collection
bibliographie. De Vito, 1999, p. 841, fig. XVI; Damian, 2006, p. 38-41.
De Vito (1999, p. 30, fig. XVI) was the first to publish this painting, attributing it to Giovan Battista Ruoppolo and underlining the qualities of style shared with works by Paolo Porpora, whose pupil he was according to De Dominici (1742-1745, III, p. 293). Of the works presented here that may be called natura in posa, none is closer to a portrait than this, the sea bass taking the place of honour in the centre, stretching across the
Fig. 1 — Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, Still Life with Fish, Naples, Museo di San Martino.
Fig. 2 — Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, Still Life with Fish and Overturned Crab, Naples, private collection.
height of the picture. The painter communicates a strong sense of form and gives full luminosity to the principal subject, which thus steals the limelight from the two smaller fish that flank it. Composing on several levels and arranging fish in strategic places so as to convey clearer spatial connections reflects an approach still indebted to Giovan Battista Recco, and in this context we may recall the painting formerly in the Mendola collection in Catania (cat no. 5). The fish hanging from a hook help to structure the space by creating vertical lines of energy, starting from a roughly-hewn stone ledge. On both sides of the fish, shells emphasize the horizontal plane, their round shapes softening a composition whose magic lies to a great extent in this somewhat artificial construction. The unity of subject and the refined, simplified presentation suggest the picture was painted before two of Ruoppolo’s compositons that were more involved and more ambitious in scale, the Still Life with Fish (Naples, Museo di San Martino; fig. 1) and the Still Life with Fish and Overturned Crab (Naples, private collection, fig. 2; Spike, 1983, p. 90, no. 30; Middione, in Naples, 19841985, p. 436, no. 2.223), dated by scholars to about 1670. Here, the artist’s borrowings from the earliest painters in this genre would indicate the first period of his career, around the years 1650-1660. The fish scales and reflections are created with white, blue or yellow highlights, applied with the tip of the brush as countless points of various sizes, conveying a beautiful pictorial effect. Only the rockfish display a warm colour – red tinted with brown spots – within a composition built largely on fairly monochrome tonalities of white, grey and brown on brown, as in the wooden bucket that almost merges into the background. Giovan Battista Ruoppolo avoids overloading the composition and offers us a considered, original image. As the century moved on, the genre of still life with fish gradually evolved from a purely naturalistic approach to an exploration of new, more decorative solutions. vronique damian
Giovan Battista Ruoppolo 33. Pantry Interior oil on canvas, 33 ¼ × 46 ⁷/₁₆ in ₍84.5 × 118 cm₎ naples, museo diego aragona pignatelli cortes ₍intesa sanpaolo collection₎
literature. Spinosa, in Naples, 1989, p. 52; Tecce, in Spinosa – Tecce, 1998, pp. 19, 37; Scarpa, 2004c, pp. 136-137. exhibitions. Naples, 1989, p. 52.
Reconstructing this painter’s oeuvre is notably difficult, both because his dated and fully signed pictures are extremely few in number, and – since the monogram “GBR” is identical to that of his older contemporary Giovan Battista Recco – because many works by Ruoppolo have been erroneously attributed to Recco, and vice versa. Giovan Battista Ruoppolo’s work appears in the most important Neapolitan collections of the period, among them that of the Flemish banker resident in Naples, Ferdinand Vandeneynden, a refined collector of objets d’art. Vandeneynden’s posthumous inventory, drawn up for his heirs by Luca Giordano in 1688, includes several paintings by Ruoppolo – still unidentified – such as “roba di caccia con capretto, et una papera”, “diverse robbe di cucina et una impanata”, “frutta e fiori; frutta, fiori, melone d’acqua”, and a painting “con diversi pennoli d’uva, granate e meloni” (Ruotolo, 1982, pp. 30, 34, 35, 39). The collection of Don Giuliano Colonna also contained two paintings attributed to our artist, consisting of “frutta, fiori e mezza anguria” and valued at fifty Lire, and another still life valued at forty. The same figures were applied to a landscape by Castiglione, a Saint Margaret by Cavallino and a Magdalene by Luca Giordano (Spike, in New York-Tulsa-Dayton, 1983, p. 88). Ruoppolo began his career in the naturalist style of Giovan Battista Recco and Luca Forte, but he was also well aware of the Roman still lifes of Mao Salini and Michelangelo Cerquozzi, whose influence is visible in the Celery and Guelder Roses in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and in the Still Life with Garden Vegetables and Bread in the Capodimonte Museum. During the 1660s Ruoppolo renewed his pictorial language, becoming open to the decorative idiom of what was by now clearly Baroque. This still life is still intensely naturalistic. It was acquired in 1985 from the art dealer Paolo Sapori in Spoleto, attributed to Ruoppolo and dated to no later than the end of the 1660s by Spinosa in 1989. The composition presents an assembly of bread, fruit,
fish and game set in different spatial arrangements, with an altogether articulated and richly emphatic effect. The central focus of the painting is a forthright and dramatically evident display of a quartered kid. The individual objects are investigated in a realistic manner and each is picked out by the light. Daring thematic contrasts and the variety and wealth of elements depicted declare the painter’s long-standing interaction with the late work of Giovan Battista Recco, and it is no accident that past attributions to Ruoppolo include the Pantry Interior with Game, Bread, Provola Cheese and Live Turkey (formerly in a Bolognese private collection; ill. in Zeri – Porzio, 1989, p. 891, no. 1068) and the Fish and Oysters with a Plate (Stockholm, Royal Museum) which are in fact by Recco. The iconographic theme of a pantry interior had its origins in Spain, and such subjects were widespread in the Mediterranean region; in Naples this was undoubtedly because numerous Spanish painters lived and worked there. The inclusion of game also reveals roots that were different from the ones usually found in Neapolitan genre painting, and this may be the consequence of Flemish art, and of its presence in local private collections such as that of the Antwerp merchant and ship owner Gaspar Roomer. From this moment, the shift towards the Baroque – along the lines of the young Giuseppe Recco and the Fleming Abraham Brueghel, active in Naples from 1675 – was to determine Ruoppolo’s output. His subsequent paintings are characterized by a series of “trionfi vegetali”, monumental in format, sumptuous and exuberant, painted with increasingly rich colours, and grandly decorative. Works such as the Still Life with Fruit, Garden Vegetables and Cherub in a Florentine private collection (ill. in Zeri – Porzio, 1989, p. 921, no. 1113) or the Still Life with Fruit in the Capodimonte Museum (loan from the Museo di San Martino; see Havana, 2002-2003, ill. p. 81) found favour with his patrons and contributed to his position as undisputed and popular leader of the Neapolitan school of still life painting. denise maria pagano
Giovan Battista Ruoppolo 34. Vine Branches with Grapes, Pomegranates, Figs, Lemons,
Apples, Watermelon and Melons, and a Pot of Narcissus oil on canvas, 69 ¹¹/₁₆ × 89 in ₍177 × 226 cm₎ signed “gio. batta ruo.lo” at lower left private collection
literature. Moro, in Belgioioso – Ariccia, 2000, p. 126; Confalone, in Munich-Florence, 2002-2003, pp. 206-207. exhibitions. Belgioioso – Ariccia, 2000, p. 126; Munich-Florence, 2002-2003, pp. 206-207.
The appearance of this previously unpublished painting (Moro, 2000), visibly signed in the shadows at lower left, presents us with a touchstone for this artist who seldom signed his work. Even without the painter’s explicit confirmation, there can be no doubt that this outlay of various fruits is by Giovan Battista Ruoppolo’s hand. If further proof were required, we would only have to compare this painting with another signed work from a private collection exhibited in Naples in 19841985 (p. 437, no. 2.224) that adopts the same manner to depict a vegetal trophy pouring out its contents; the sole purpose of its expansive fruits and leaves seems to be to banish the horror vacui of the scene by substituting a vegetal compilation that presages the most cluttered Baroque style. We should also mention the Fruits and Vegetables in the Gava collection in Naples (Causa, 1972, fig. 402) – another vertical composition with the entire pictorial space given over to a similar description of the abundance of nature, creating the illusion that the fruits are at arm’s reach from us. Both paintings use the same representational procedure in a vertical composition where some of the fruit is even placed on the floor in the immediate foreground. A few tree trunks are vaguely sketched in the background; a slight gap in their midst reveals a patch of blue sky barely covered by a cloud. To heighten the verisimilitude of such copious arrangements of fruits, the artist sometimes included, as he does here, a wicker basket almost completely hidden by the drooping clusters of grapes and the branch of lemons, whose bright yellow rind stands out fully lit. The painter’s attentiveness
to detail extends to the description of individual leaves on each fruit, interspersing those of the fig tree with the grape vines in the upper part of the canvas, while the pear that has fallen to the ground on the far left retains only one of its leaves. The sometimes brutal juxtaposition of a seemingly infinite variety of shapes and colours gives an invigorating, symphonic rhythm to the painting, sustained and grounded by the centrality of the open watermelon, a pretext the painter seems to delight in as he contrasts the luscious red of the melon with the deep blue of the grape cluster perched above it. It would no doubt be of interest to know the circumstances under which such an ambitious composition was commissioned; a family tradition handed down from the former owner of the painting maintains that in the more recent past it came from the collection of Joachim Murat (1767-1815, brother-in-law of Napoleon I and king of Naples from 1808 to 1815) (Moro, in Belgioioso – Ariccia, 2000, p. 126). The “extremely rigorous language” of the painting, to use Causa’s phrase (1972, p. 1018), demonstrates how cautiously Giovan Battista Ruoppolo was moving toward the Baroque. Although he manages to preserve a strong trace of his Neapolitan background, he must also have been influenced by the Roman paintings of Michelangelo di Campidoglio (1610?-1670?) and Cerquozzi (1602-1660). If we consider this painting to be a mature work, it must nonetheless have been done before the monumental compositions Ruoppolo executed for the feast of Corpus Domini in 1684, collaborating with Luca Giordano, who painted the figures, and Abraham Brueghel for the flowers (Lattuada, in Naples, 1997-1998, pp. 165-169, nos. 1.11, 1.12). vronique damian
Giovan Battista Ruoppolo 35. Watermelon, Bunches of Grapes, Figs, and Basket of Fruit oil on canvas, 29 ¹⁵/₁₆ × 45 ¼ in ₍76 × 115 cm₎ private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎
literature. Confalone, in MadridSalamanca, 2005, pp. 66-67, no. 29. exhibitions. Madrid-Salamanca, 2005, pp. 66-67, no. 29.
Green and violet figs, white and black grapes, bunches of baby pears and lemons cascade from a large rush basket, while nearby an open watermelon, its bright red pulp exposed, seems to shine against the dark background. This is a composition of atmospheric Baroque inspiration, with mimesis and splendid colours outdoing one another. The viewer’s captive gaze moves restlessly from one fruit to another because the basket has emptied its contents onto the ground, injecting a certain degree of movement into the scene. The beauty of the objects, vigorously modulated in strong, lively pigments; the freedom of the composition; the kinds of fruits on display, such as the watermelon and figs, releasing their juicy, red pulp; and the grape seeds, also suggesting ripeness, all convey a feeling of fullness which is a hallmark of the extensive age of Baroque still life. This brings to mind Abraham Brueghel (1631-1697) who was in Naples from 1675 on, as well as Michelangelo Pace (1610?-1670?) and many others. While by the end of the 1660s rich displays of fruit assume an excessive opulence, as in the canvas before us, we are indisputably in Naples. Indeed the background is evidently dark,
the shadows charged and sombre, and the chromatic contrasts sophisticated, and these elements are combined with more distinctly regional suggestions of almost iconographic quality, such as the bunches of yellowred baby pears, frequently represented by Neapolitan painters from Luca Forte to Giovan Battista Ruoppolo. Finally, the festive nature of such a composition underscores the character of Naples as a locus of sumptuous public spectacles to which the figurative arts made a significant contribution, such as the paintings executed for the Feast of Corpus Domini in 1684. This enterprise, coordinated by Luca Giordano, also saw the involvement of Paolo de Matteis, Giovan Battista Ruoppolo and Abraham Brueghel, and is often mentioned in sources for its exceptional symbolic importance. We may also perceive the prestige of these Neapolitan “fasti” in the burnt tonalities used by Giovan Battista Ruoppolo in the basket, large fig leaves, lemons, and bronze-coloured quinces that admirably introduce the chromatic explosion at the centre, giving us a hint of other pictorial adventures recalling the most inspired works of Tommaso Realfonso. claudia salvi
Giuseppe Ruoppolo naples 1630 ₍?₎ 1710 We still know relatively little of this important artist’s life, and his kinship with Giovan Battista Ruoppolo cannot be determined with certainty. According to De Dominici, he was the nephew of the more famous Ruoppolo and died in 1710. In that year, Giuseppe would have been “nearly 80 years old”. Since his biographer maintains that he “knew and frequented Ruoppolo on several occasions”, we have no reason to doubt his word, at least until this is contradicted (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, pp. 298299). Although the artist’s biography has not inspired much archival research, a large number of his signed canvases have been identified. The best introduction to his oeuvre is still found in De Dominici’s precise account, and De Vito’s comment on it (2005b). There is critical consensus that Giuseppe Ruoppolo took an intimate approach to the genre, of the kind one sees in the Still Life with Ice Bucket initialled “G.B.” in the Molinari Pradelli collection, ascribed to him by Causa (Naples-ZurichRotterdam, 1964-1965, pp. 53-56) before he reattributed it to Giuseppe Recco (Causa, 1972, p. 1044, note 69; see also Bologna, in Bergamo, 1968, pl. 49; Salerno, 1984, p. 228; Middione, 1989d, p. 923; Confalone, in MunichFlorence, 2002-2003, pp. 215-217). This influence is apparent in much of Ruoppolo’s work, in the use of close-up format against a dark background, with a frieze-like arrangement of copper vessels and citrus fruit. According to his biographer, citrus was one of Ruoppolo’s specialities: “he painted dried fruit, oranges and lemons extremely well”. This talent is confirmed by many of his best-known paintings, like the Citrus Fruit with a Copper Pail (fig. 1), unsigned but certainly by his hand, in the Molinari Pradelli collection, the work in the Duca di Martina Museum (cat. no. 36), or the series of four paintings (one signed “Gius. Roppoli”) published by Bologna (Bergamo, 1968, pl. 49). All these elements are reminiscent of the work of Giuseppe Recco,
although according to his biographer the latter was his contemporary. However, the painstaking verisimilitude in Giuseppe Ruoppolo’s compositions referred to by De Dominici – “whatever he chose to paint, he did so with great veracity” – has enabled De Vito to draw attention to Luca Forte’s underlying stylistic role in works like the grand Fruit and Vegetables with a Vase of Flowers, signed and painted in collaboration with Abraham Brueghel (Naples, Capodimonte, from the d’Avalos collection). On the other hand, the pointillist treatment of light that allows him to transcribe the irregular surface of the citrons, oranges, and lemons so faithfully was inspired by Paolo Porpora (Causa, 1972, p. 1016). Beside their family connection, which probably motivated it, the relationship between Giuseppe and Giovan Battista Ruoppolo was by and large a professional one. Although it is difficult to determine the exact nature of this relationship with the information available to us, the issue must be raised in order to address the questions of history and style implied by their possible interaction. The Still Life with Vegetables and Citrus Fruit (private collection, formerly Galleria Sapori) – rightly considered to be one of Giovan Battista Ruoppolo’s masterpieces – and the Still Life with Cardoons, Salad, and White Turnips in the Capodimonte Museum, now attributed to Giovan Battista Ruoppolo but formerly given to Giuseppe (De Logu, 1962, p. 130, pl. 79) both present many similarities to a signed painting by Giuseppe of Cardoons, Flowers, Salad, and Mushrooms (De Vito, 2005, p. 13, fig. 2) in which the bunch of white turnips and salad are nearly identical. The resemblance of the two paintings raises the issue of a possible collaboration between these two members of the Ruoppolo family, but for now this must remain hypothetical. Giuseppe’s name is never explicitly given in any of the posthumous inventories, although certain works listed as
“Ruoppolo”, such as those belonging to Ottavio Orsini, Prince of Frasso – “a painting with copper” and “two pictures with fruit, flowers, and citrus” – evoke works by Giuseppe. Further confusing the issue is the mention of seventeen paintings of fruit, or similar subjects, by a “Ruoppolo Francesco”, who is unknown to modern historians; the works belonged to Benedetto Cuomo according to an inventory drawn up in 1687 (Labrot, 1992, p. 558). A certain number of canvases initialled “GRU” and bearing a strong resemblance to Giuseppe Ruoppolo’s painterly world raise a new set of questions. Causa suggested the existence of a “Master GRU” who was “later, more academic in style, and more mannered” and who “bears no similarity to Giuseppe Ruoppolo” (Causa, 1972, p. 1044, note 69). It is difficult to distinguish between the two different hands at work here, although critics, with the exception of Marini (Middione, 1989d, p. 926; Marini, in Palermo, 1984, no. 33), follow Causa’s suggestion and posit the existence of two different painters. claudia salvi
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Ruoppolo, Still Life with Citrus Fruit and a Copper Pail, Marano di Castenaso, Molinari Pradelli collection.
Giuseppe Ruoppolo 36. Still Life with Pie and Citrons il on canvas, 28 ¾ x 39 ³/₈ in ₍73 × 100 cm₎ o naples, museo duca di martina
literature. De Logu, 1962, pp. 131132; Causa 1972, 1044, p. 69 ff.; Volpe – Benati 1981, p. 17; Middione, in London-Washington, 1982, p. 276; Middione, in Naples, 1984-1985, p. 174. exhibitions. Naples, 1953-1954, p. 20, no. 20; Naples-ZurichRotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 54, no. 89; Budapest, 1985, p. 111, no. 62.
The attribution to Giuseppe Ruoppolo was made by Causa (Naples, 1953-54), who pointed out traces of the signature “Gius. R.” visible after cleaning, and confirmed by infra-red reflectography, under the apocryphal signature of Giuseppe Recco. Causa cited the words of De Dominici, who had referred to the artist, a nephew of the more famous Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, as specializing in “i frutti secchi, gli aranci, i limoni e varie cose” and painting “ad imitazione del suo zio Gio: Battista cose di Rame, che furono a suoi tempi tenuti in pregio per essere naturalissime”. Moreover, he was “ferace e felice nel componimento, ponendo quasi a ringhiera sopra un poggio ciò che voleva dipingere, e senza niuna bizzarria pittoresca le dipingeva, ma con tanta verità che sembravan più belle del naturale medesimo” (1742-45, III, p. 298). Causa emphasized the work’s Spanish bodegon quality and its strongly naturalistic flavour, almost modelled on the impact of Zurbarán. For Causa, the distinctive mark of Ruoppolo’s early oeuvre lay in the attentive description
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Ruoppolo, Still Life with Loaves, a Cake and an Ice Bucket, Marano di Castenaso, Molinari Pradelli Collection.
of the lumpy citrus peels, conveyed through speckled light, and around this, he believed, it was possible to reconstruct the painter’s earliest phase. Accordingly, he drew parallels with the Still Life with Loaves, a Cake and an Ice Bucket (fig. 1; in fact by Giuseppe Recco) and the Still Life with Citrus Fruits and a Copper Bucket in the Molinari Pradelli collection in Bologna (fig 1; NaplesZurich-Rotterdam, 1964-1965, pp. 54-55, nos. 91-92), and with the Still Life in the Zauli Naldi collection (ibid., p. 54, no. 90), although this last painting should be attributed to Giovan Battista Ruoppolo. De Logu (1962) also agreed the work was by the young Ruoppolo, expressing a positive view of the painting. In 1972 Causa returned to the subject, treating as problematic both our canvas and the Molinari Pradelli Still Life with Citrus Fruits and a Copper Bucket, in which he had earlier recognized an “analisi di superficie insistita e puntigliosa, che disquama in una materia vivida e grumosa la buccia dei limoni e si condensa in grevi brillii sulla costolatura delle foglie” (Naples-Zurich-Rotterdam, 1964-1965, p. 55, no. 92). Moreover, he again rejected from Ruoppolo’s oeuvre the paintings initialled G.R.U. – chief among which is the canvas in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Rome – which he believed were by a later master with a more academic and mannered character. Ruoppolo’s independent role in Neapolitan still life painting during the later Seicento was also recognized by Volpe and Benati (1981), while Ferdinando Bologna always insisted on the artist’s dependence on the early works of Giuseppe Recco, and on the need to distinguish Ruoppolo’s earliest works from those by Agostino Verrocchi. The landscape background appears in other pictures ascribed to the artist, such as the canvas in the Museum in Nantes or the paintings on glass recently published by De Vito (2005, pp. 7-27). denise maria pagano
Giuseppe Ruoppolo 37. Basket of Apples, Grapes, Plums, Figs, and Strawberries oil on canvas, 45 ¼ × 31 ⁵/₈ in ₍115 × 80.4 cm₎ private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎ This painting by Giuseppe Ruoppolo is definitely an exercise in stylistic prowess based on the work of his famous predecessor, Luca Forte. Our assertion is supported by the simplicity of the presentation in a restricted space and the volumetric definition of the arrangement of fruits, while relegating the landscape in the background to the status of penumbra. The source of this homage to one of the primary figures of Neapolitan still life painting, whose meticulous style is better known to us today thanks to the work of De Vito (1990, 2000, 2006a) and Gregori (1994-1995), is to be found not only in the artist’s decisive and expressive use of light but also in the reworking of some of his favourite motifs: the clusters of miniature pears, which recur in the Still Life with Fruits and Birds (Sarasota, Ringling Museum of Art), and the small ornamental bunches of wild strawberries in one of the two octagonal paintings in the Duca di
Fig. 1 — Francesco della Questa, Flowers, Fruits, and a Lily, formerly Galleria Sapori, Spoleto.
Martina Museum in Naples (on loan to the Capodimonte Museum). This manner of describing and interrelating various fruits, however, has nothing in common with Luca Forte’s style. A colourful whirligig of small, highly decorative pyramids of apples, peaches, and figs revolves around the cluster of pears in the central foreground of the canvas and guides the eye to the upper register. As we move from one pyramid to the next, we find a densely compact group of objects that occupies two levels, an arrangement often used by Ruoppolo (cat. no. 38). The attentiveness to the white striation on the figs, the indentations of the grape leaves, and the simply depicted wicker basket, with no extraneous details, are related to another painting by Giuseppe Ruoppolo (signed; Rome, private collection) that was recently published by De Vito (2005, p. 8, pl. 1). Several other compositions offer comparable parallels, such as the Still Life in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nevers (De Vito, 2005, p. 18, fig. 8) that includes the same jasmine blossom, a detail borrowed from the early seventeenth-century vocabulary of still lifes. If this painting were included in Giuseppe Ruoppolo’s oeuvre, it would be appropriate to date it to the 1650s, early in his career, and the present exhibition should allow us to confirm this conjecture. The motifs developed by this artist as well as his uncle, Giovan Battista, were carried out by many of their followers, demonstrating the popularity of the genre until the beginning of the eighteenth century. Nicola Spinosa (1989b, p. 868) has published a painting (fig.1) by Francesco della Questa (c. 1639-1723) whose links with our picture cannot be denied, proving how pervasively Ruoppolo’s open air compositions of fruits, with their palette of intense colours, were assimilated by his followers. vronique damian
Giuseppe Ruoppolo 38. Figs, Squash, and other Fruits on Stone Ledges oil on canvas, 28 ³/₈ × 41 ⁵/₁₆ in ₍72 × 105 cm₎ signed “g roppoli” on the stone ledge at lower right modena, private collection
Highly characteristic of Ruoppolo’s style, this painting is to be compared with the Still Life of Fruit (fig. 1), bearing the monogram “Giosepp. R.”, of similar size, published by Middione (in Naples, 1984-1985, p. 439). Both canvases are almost completely dominated by an abundance of various fruits. Here, the base of the upper plinth, with its ovolo moulding, creates a sober, classical mood that is rare in Neapolitan painting at that time. This solemnity goes hand in hand with Ruoppolo’s precision in rendering the appearance of the fruit in soft, silvery tones that recall other still lifes of fruit done in the same period by Aniello Ascione. The comparison allows us to surmise that the painting was done in the 1680s. The representation of the figs, with the vivid contrast between the intense purple of the fruit and the warm green of the skin that exudes the delightful nectar of the figs, is comparable to some of Giuseppe Recco’s early work, such as his Still Life with Ice Chest, initialled “G.R.”, in the Molinari Pradelli collection. Causa first attributed this canvas to Giuseppe Ruoppolo (Causa, in Naples-Zurich-Rotterdam, 1964-1965, pp. 53-56), before later ascribing it to Giuseppe Recco (1972, p. 1044, note 69). Diversely, the plastic energy of the fruit takes its cue from Luca Forte, the most naturalistic of this group of still life painters, although the sheer variety of
Fig. 1 — Giuseppe Ruoppolo, Still Life of Fruit, Naples, Private Collection.
fruit and squash represented points to a more modern sensibility, reminiscent of Franz Werner von Tamm (1658-1724) and Abraham Brueghel (1631-1697). This aspect may also correspond to the new, rising aspirations of an ever-expanding middle class (Borrelli, 1998). The fruit is represented with a pictorial sensuality, including the attention to the bruises on some pieces, that is also found in the painting signed “Giuseppe Roppoli” (Causa, in Naples-Zurich-Rotterdam, 1964-1965, no. 94, fig. 38b), formerly in the Astarita collection, where the almost metallic subtlety of the leaves is executed with an inherent mimetic force. All these characteristics remind us of the refinement of Willem van Aelst (1627-after 1683) who was employed by the future Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III de’ Medici from 1649 to 1656, or Willem Fredericksz Van Royen (1645-1723), and bear witness to the Ruoppolo’s desire to renew earlier styles and engage in the sort of elegant and somewhat exotic experiment that we see here. De Dominici (1742-1745, III, pp. 298) devotes an important passage to Ruoppolo, which is well documented since he knew and met Ruoppolo on many occasions (“conosciuto e praticato più volte”). De Dominici considered him to be a painter who was attentive to the artistic production of the preceding generation, although he completely assimilated the lessons of his uncle Giovan Battista. Giuseppe Ruoppolo was both nephew and pupil of Giovan Battista, and his style was very similar: “Giuseppe Ruoppoli fu nipote, e discepolo di Giovan Battista, e tenne assai della sua maniera”. This stance reveals a certain zealous enjoyment of his own culture which, when we relate it to the broader spectrum of modern knowledge inherent in Giuseppe’s work, allows us to see him as a primary exponent of a certain painterly grandeur as well as an individual who was also representative of the openness of seventeenth-century Neapolitan culture. It was no coincidence that Tommaso Realfonso, Aniello Ascione, and even the mysterious Lionelli all regarded Giuseppe, the “second” Ruoppolo, as a new painterly paradigm. claudia salvi
39. Rush Basket with Fruit and Scattered Jasmine Flowers Fruit, Majolica Plate and Small Bird
Gourd, Fruit, and Scattered Jasmine Flowers signed “ruoppoli” at lower right
Flowers, Fruit, and a Guinea Pig signed “g. ruoppoli” at lower right oil on canvas, 19 ¹¹/₁₆ × 24 ¹³/₁₆ in ₍50 × 63 cm₎ each private collection ₍formerly paris, galerie canesso₎
literature. De Vito, 2005, pp. 20, 21, 25, figs. VII-X; Ravelli, 2006, pp. 134, 136, note 22, fig. 144.
These four still lifes by Giuseppe Ruoppolo, two of which are signed, make an exceptional group both in beauty and quality. Offered for sale at a Finarte auction, and formerly with Lampronti in Rome (Finarte, Rome, 24-25 October 2000, lots 143-144b; Galleria Lampronti, Rome; see Maastricht, 2001, pp. 110-111), they were published by De Vito (2005, p. 25), who dated them to the artist’s maturity, and by Ravelli (2006). Fruit is caught as it falls from a basket or plate in the foreground, or is shown scattered on the ground, following one of the artist’s favoured formats. Examples of this include the Still Life with Fruit signed “Ruoppolo” (Naples-Zurich-Rotterdam, 19641965, p. 52, no. 85, fig. 37b, pl. VI), which is particularly close to our signed Gourd, Fruit, and Scattered Jasmine Flowers, while the Fruit, Majolica Plate and Small Bird may be compared with the Still Life with Fruit in a private collection (Middione, 1989d, p. 924, no. 1116) or the signed Fruit, Gourd, Tortoise, Parakeet, and Majolica Plate in a Roman private collection (De Vito, 2005, p. 8, pl. I). De Dominici furnishes a precise description of this kind of composition, in which Ruoppolo “[che] non fu però ferace, e felice nel componimento, ponendo quasi a ringhiera sovra un poggio ciò che volea dipingere” contented himself with an exact depiction of the models before him, executing them “con tanta verità che sembravan più belle del naturale medesimo”. His works were in fact not highly appreciated by the biographer, given that “senza niuna bizzarria pittoresca [le] dipingeva”, but we should note that he rebuked Luca Forte in the same way: “ad ogni modo era povero d’invenzione, e di componimento; perciocché veggonsi le sue pitture, che non hanno troppo avanti, e indietro, e tutte le cose son messe quasi a fila una dopo l’altra sul medesimo piano” (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, p. 293). The comparison is far from fortuitous, however: the dark background that throws its contents onto the proscenium,
the vigour of the objects themselves, the miniaturistlike precision used by Giuseppe Ruoppolo to convey the velvety quality of the peach skin or the resinous coating of the plums, the taste for blemishes, which underlines the plastic quality of the forms, as do the dynamic contrasts of light – all these are observed from nature and inspired by Luca Forte, whose influence also extends to the choice of fruits and vegetables, especially citrus and dried fruit (for the relationship between Luca Forte and Giuseppe Ruoppolo, see De Vito, 2005). One can well understand why De Dominici, who so admired Giovan Battista Ruoppolo and his vast “macchine” that took over the palaces of the nobility and haute bourgeoisie of Naples, could not appreciate the painstaking efforts (“non fu però ferace”) of Giuseppe. Indeed, the latter’s artistic character calls out for reassessment, and it is worth underlining how at the end of the seventeenth century Giuseppe returned to the style of a past period he felt was somehow superior to recent pomp and circumstance. We should not rule out considering the close parallels with the so-called Maestro GRU – far from “manierato” and “accademico”, as the doyen of Neapolitan still life studies defined him, for once unjustly (Causa, 1972, p. 1044, note 69) – which would prove Marini right (Palermo, 1984, no. 33). The latter identified him as Giuseppe Ruoppolo, since like him – whether through plagiarism or because they are indeed the same – he speaks with ancient, sober solemnity. Our small series proves that Ruoppolo succeeds in creating poetry that is sweet as well as vigorous: an ever-golden light dissolves over the open melon, while the archaic flavour of the little basket of strawberries seems to this writer to look forward to the purist, Neoclassical treatment of certain future painters, even evoking the great Meléndez (1716-1780). claudia salvi
Giuseppe Ruoppolo 40. Melons, Watermelon, Grapes, Small Basket of Figs,
and Basket of Apples in a Landscape oil on canvas, 70 ½ × 80 ⁵/₁₆ in ₍179 × 204 cm₎ signed: “g. ruoppoli” at lower right on the rock beneath the grapes private collection
This large-format canvas, clearly signed on the rock on the lower right, constitutes a significant addition to the corpus of an important painter who usually worked with smaller dimensions; and it is the only work that clearly exemplifies the opening line of De Dominici’s biography of the artist: “Giuseppe Ruoppolo was the nephew and disciple of Giovan Battista, whose style he closely imitated” (1742-1745, III, pp. 298-299). In fact, although Giuseppe may have preserved the memory of Giovan Battista’s large displays of fruit – which he refers to here in his depiction of the vines heavily laden with clusters of grapes on the right side of the canvas – he offers a new variation on this theme on the left in his presentation of various fruits in a landscape. With no specific reference to Naples or its environs, Giuseppe gives more imaginative emphasis to the fruit in a setting unconnected to any obvious geographic or even natural verisimilitude. This aspect of the painting reflects the arresting originality of the composition. Shining forth like jewels in the partial penumbra, the fruits piled together in the centre of the canvas are striking in their rich variety as well as their variations in shape and colour. In this highly imaginative still life, which the painter sought to make as spontaneous-looking as possible (his effort is clearly visible in the mushrooms that have sprouted from the
stump of the tree in the middle ground), the presence of the fruit seems all the more exotic insofar as it clashes with its desolate setting. This compact yet masterfully wrought compilation of fruit uses technical solutions that may be related to other works. For instance, the red watermelon in the centre of the composition that focuses the viewer’s gaze is identical to the fruit in Giovan Battista Ruoppolo’s Vines with Grapes, Pomegranate, Figs, Lemons, Apples, Watermelon, and Melons with a Vase of Narcissus (cat. no. 34). The collection of fruits is frozen in space, as it were, between the spilled basket of apples on the left and the diagonal line of vines thrusting forward on the right. The red flesh of the watermelon and the dark blue of the grapes that adorn it, yellows that alternate with the coolest greens, and the orange-coloured rind of the melons are all elements Ruoppolo adopts for their expressive value in order to guide us through a reading of the painting from one fruit to the next. It is difficult to assign specific dates to the chronology of Ruoppolo’s oeuvre, in the absence of reliable information. However, this composition falls midway between the Baroque and the highly decorative art that followed, and reveals a mature artist in full possession of his talent whose goal was to represent “il grande spettacolo della natura” (Spinosa, 1989b, p. 869). vronique damian
Andrea Belvedere naples, circa 1652 1732 Andrea Belvedere was an eccentric painter and intellectual whose interests vacillated between painting and his passion for literature and theatre to which he devoted the last years of his life. His early training betrays the influence of Paolo Porpora’s subject matter and Giuseppe Recco’s manner of painting light. Belvedere was most likely influenced by the work of the Spanish painter Juan de Arellano, but he had no contact with contemporary Flemish still life painting. His early canvases, like the two small pairs of pendant pictures with Carnations and Tulips in the Capodimonte Museum (figs. 1, 2) and the Correale Museum in Sorrento, clearly confirm the influence of Porpora and Recco as his first Neapolitan masters. Later in his career, Belvedere subscribed to the sophisticated, modern benchmarks of European still life painting, demonstrating a refined sensibility that anticipates the artistry of eighteenthcentury European culture. In his middle period, he was exposed to the work of Franz Werner von Tamm, who was originally from Hamburg, and Karel von Vogelaer; both men were living in Rome and known respectively by the names of “Monsù Duprait” and “Carlo dei fiori”. These two painters introduced Belvedere to the world of solemn decorative art “alla francese” which was closely related to the work of JeanBaptiste Monnoyer. This kind of work is seen not only in Belvedere’s famous Morning Glories and Guelder Roses
by the Water’s Edge in the Capodimonte Museum, but also in the paintings in the Correale Museum, characterised by expansive compositions of landscapes with lakes and enriched by classical elements such as herms, painted vases, and fountains. The two almost Romantic Flowers Around a Herm and Flowers with a Copper Bowl in the Stibbert Museum, Florence, display an atmosphere that is subtly nuanced and confirm Belvedere’s tendency to favour the Baroque style. They demonstrate the painter’s new stylistic direction that arose from exposure to contemporary work by Abraham Brueghel and Giovan Battista Ruoppolo in his mature period. Bernardo De Dominici refers to Belvedere’s collaboration with Francesco Solimena, recognisable in the painting of Putti with Garlands in the San Sebastian Museum in Spain. A prolonged stay in Spain, possibly facilitated by Luca Giordano, at the court of King Charles II (16941700) marked the beginning of Belvedere’s commitment to the painting of monumental compositions that are opulent and richly ornamented, but at the expense of chromatic quality and atmosphere. De Dominici tells us that when Belvedere returned to Naples he gave up painting forever in order to devote himself exclusively to the theatre. His style lived on through a number of other painters, including Nicola Casissa, Tommaso Realfonso, and Baldassare De Caro. denise maria pagano
Fig 1 — Andrea Belvedere, Carnations, Naples, Duca di Martina
Fig 2 — Andrea Belvedere, Tulips, Naples, Duca di Martina Museum (on
Museum (on loan to the Capodimonte Museum).
loan to the Capodimonte Museum).
Andrea Belvedere 41. Morning Glories and Guelder Roses by the Water’s Edge oil on canvas, 38 ³/₁₆ × 29 ⅛ in ₍100 × 74 cm₎ naples, capodimonte museum
literature. De Dominici, 17421745, III, pp. 571-572; Dalbono, 1906, p. 22; Ruesch, 1910, p. 191, no. 29; De Rinaldis, 1911, p. 456, no. 461; Bertarelli, 1927, p. 260, no. 252; De Rinaldis, 1928, pp. 22-23, ill. no. 59; Quintavalle, 1928; Ortolani, in Naples, 1938, p. 113; Causa, 1953, I, p. 92; Causa, 1957, p. 74, ill. no. 45; Molajoli, 1957, p. 81; Roli, in Naples-ZurichRotterdam, 1964, p. 61, no. 110; Causa, 1964, pp. 5-7, 17; Molajoli, 1964, p. 58; Guglielmi Faldi, 1966, VIII, p. 85; Causa, 1972, p. 1025; Bolaffi, 1972-1976, II, 1972, p. 14-16, ill. no. 13; Rosci, 1977, p. 176; Middione, in LondonWashington, 1982-1983, pp. 134-135, no. 4; Causa, 1982, p. 81, no. 67; Middione, in Paris, 1983, pp. 170-171, no. 2; Ruotolo, in Turin, 1983, pp. 29, 123, ill. no. 4; Salerno, 1984, p. 234; Spinosa, 1984a, ill. no. 50; Middione, in Naples, 1984-1985, I, p. 198, no. 213; Middione – Navarro, in Budapest, 1985, p. 55, no. 3; Middione, 1989, pp. 936-940; Spinosa, 1989a, p. 507, ill. no. 784; Pagano, in Sao Paulo-Rio de Janeiro, 1989, p. 65, no. 2; Pagano, in Barcelona, 1990, p. 92; Pagano, in Strasbourg-Bordeaux, 1994, p. 158, no. 63; Tecce, in Rimini, 1996-1997, pp. 184-185; Tecce, in Palermo, 19971998, p. 166; Rocco, in Utili, 2002, p. 349, no. 6; Scarpa, in Munich, 2002-2003, p. 418; Scarpa, in Florence, 2003, p. 430; Scarpa, in Phoenix, 2006-2007, pp. 132-133. exhibitions. Naples-ZurichRotterdam, 1964-1965, no. 110; London-Washington, 1982-1983, no. 4; Paris, 1983, no. 2; Turin, 1983; Naples, 1984-1985, no. 2.13; Budapest, 1985, no. 3; Sao Paulo-Rio de Janeiro, 1989, no. 2; Barcelona, 1990, p. 92; Strasbourg-Bordeaux, 1994, no. 63; Rimini, 1996-1997, pp. 184-185; Palermo, 1997-1998, p. 166; Munich, 2002-2003, p. 418; Florence, 2003, p. 430; Phoenix, 2006-2007, pp. 132133.
It is likely that this painting entered the Bourbon collections by about 1870 since it appears in the Salazar inventory made in that year; it is not cited in earlier guides to the Capodimonte Museum. The work was listed with the erroneous title of Hortensias in subsequent museum inventories, catalogues and various scholarly studies. The correct identification of the subject was made in 1964 by Causa, who recognized the branches as flowering sambuco, or Guelder Roses (also called Snowballs, and known in the eighteenth century as sambuchi rosa), their long stems skimming the surface of the water, interlaced with Morning Glories. Thanks to his focus on the specific botanical and compositional elements – which almost anticipate an eighteenth-century capriccio – Causa was able to connect the picture to the description of a canvas much admired in the Neapolitan house of the lawyer Giuseppe Valletta, described by Bernardo de Dominici as follows: “Quello che da tutti i pittori vien sommamente lodato, ed ammirato da’ forestieri intendenti, è un quadro di quattro palmi per alto, in cui ha finto caduto sopra un tronco un ramo carico di sambuchi rosa (qual fiore egli dipinge eccellentemente) che toccano alquanto un acqua limpida onde fanno sì bel riflesso, che è uno stupore, con poco accidente di lume” (De Dominici, 1742-1745, III, pp. 571-572). This is an elegant, twilit composition, among Belvedere’s most lyrical and poetically evocative works of the late seventeenth century, and a rare instance of a still life whose original setting is known, thanks to its contemporary fame, as is evident from De Dominici. The fact that Giuseppe Valletta, a learned Neapolitan philosopher and founder of the Accademia degli Investiganti, had taken an interest in the identification and classification of
numerous botanical species, determining their relative medical qualities, would support the hypothesis that the painting was commissioned directly from Belvedere by Valletta. Moreover, Guelder Roses and Morning Glories have been known since antiquity for their analgesic and hallucinogenic qualities (Scarpa, in Florence, 2003, p. 430). The small format of this canvas, its refined colour scheme, the subtle lighting and its Romantic, sentimental qualities place its execution in the middle phase of the painter’s career, when Belvedere was increasingly attentive to the latest Baroque trends and the kind of emphatic compositions that defined his output in the 1680s, and as a response to contemporary European genre painting. This still life reflects the formal decorative qualities of the French painter Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer, as seen through works by the German artists Franz Werner von Tamm and Karel von Vogelaer, who spent the 1680s in Rome, where they were known as Monsù Duprait and Carlo dei Fiori. This may therefore be considered a turning-point, leading to more sweeping decorative compositions, such as the monumental displays of Flowers with a Large Copper Pot in the Museo Correale, Sorrento, or the Flowers around a Herm in the Museo Stibbert, Florence (Middione, in Naples, 1984-1985, I, p. 198), works that look forward to the grand scenic canvases of Belvedere’s late Spanish period. The artist sojourned in Spain between 1694 and 1700, summoned by the Madrid court (perhaps on the recommendation of Luca Giordano), and created his final paintings there. Indeed on his return to Naples he did not share the tastes of the younger fioranti and abandoned painting altogether in favour of exclusively theatrical work. denise maria pagano
bertarelli Luigi Vittorio
To avoid any confusion arising from dual dates, the periodical Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano is always indicated with the year as printed on the title page, not the year in which it was published.
bocchi Gianluca et Ulisse
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gueda villar Mercedes
aguirre y ortiz de zrate Jesùs, Duque de Alba
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aikema Bernard – Italian paintings from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in Dutch Public Collections, Florence, 1997.
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baldinucci Filippo – Notizie dei professori del disegno da Cimabue in qua: per le quali si dimostra come, e per chi le belle arti di pittura, scultura e architettura, lasciata la rozzezza delle maniere greca e gotica, si siano in questi secoli ridotte all’antica loro perfezione, Florence 1681-1728 [vols. I-V, reprint of Florence 1845-1847 edition, ed. F. Ranalli; vols. VI-VII with appendices and indices by P. Barocchi and A. Boschetto], ed. P. Barocchi, Florence 19741975.
belon Pierre – L’histoire naturelle des estranges poissons marins, Paris 1551. – De aquatilibus libri duo cum eiconibus ad vivam ipsorum effigiem, Paris, 1553.
bergstrm Ingvar – Dutch Still Life Painting, London,1956.
borrelli Gennaro – “La borghesia napoletana della seconda metà del Seicento e la sua influenza sull’evoluzione del gusto dal barocco al rococo (parte terza)”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 1988, pp. 7-50.
brejon de lavergne Arnauld – volle Nathalie
burke Marcus B. – Private collections of Italian art in seventeenth-century Spain, 2 vols., New York, 1984.
burke Marcus B. – cherry Peter – Collections of Paintings in Madrid 1601-1755, Documents for The History of Collecting. Spanish Inventories I, 2 vols., Los Angeles, 1997.
capaccio Giulio Cesare – Mergellina. Egloghe piscatorie, Venezia, 1598. – Il Forastiero, Naples, 1630 (published 1634).
cardano Gerolamo – Synesiorum Somniorum omnis generis insomnia explicantes libri IIII, 1562.
causa Raffaello – “Paolo Porpora e il primo tempo della natura morta napoletana”, Paragone, 15, March 1951, pp. 30-36. – “Il riordinamento del Museo Correale di Sorrento”, Bollettino d’arte, fasc. I, January-March 1953, pp. 90-93. – Pittura Napoletana dal XV al XIX secolo, Bergamo 1957. – “Un avvio per Giacomo Recco”, Arte Antica e Moderna, 13-16, 1961, pp. 344-353. – Andrea Belvedere pittore di fiori, Milan, 1964. – “La natura morta a Napoli nel Sei e nel Settecento”, in Storia di Napoli, vol. V, Naples-Cava dei Tirreni 1972, pp. 997-1055. – (ed.) Le collezioni del Museo di Capodimonte, Milan 1982.
ceci Giuseppe – “Scritti di Storia dell’arte napoletana anteriori al De Dominici”, Napoli Nobilissima, VIII, 1899, pp. 163-168. – “Paolo Porpora”, entry in U. Thieme – F. Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, Leipzig 1992 [first ed. 1933], XXVII, p. 273.
de giorgi Cosimo
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cherry Peter – Arte y naturaleza. El Bodegón Español en el Siglo de Oro, Madrid, 1999.
chiarini Marco – “Filippo Napoletano, pittore di natura morta”, Antologia di Belle Arti, 4, 1977, pp. 354-356. – “Postilla a Filippo Napoletano pittore di natura morta”, Paragone, 419-423, 1985, pp. 225-226.
coliva Anna – (ed.), La collezione d’arte del Sanpaolo Banco di Napoli, Cinisello Balsamo 2004.
cottino Alberto – “‘Dipinger fiori e frutti si bene contraffatti...’: la natura morta caravaggesca a Roma”, in A. Cottino, ed., La natura morta al tempo di Caravaggio (exh. cat., Rome, Musei Capitolini, 15 December 1995-14 April 1996), Naples 1995, pp. 59-66. – “La natura morta a Roma: dal Naturalismo caravaggesco al Tardo Barocco”, in R. Battistini, B. Cleri, C. Giardini, E. Negro, N. Roio, eds., L’Anima e le cose. La natura morta nell’Italia pontificia nel XVII e XVIII secolo (exh. cat., Fano, Edificio L. Rossi, 13 June-28 October 2001), Modena 2001, pp. 57-65. – “La natura morta a Roma: il naturalismo caravaggesco”, in M. Gregori, ed., La natura morta italiana da Caravaggio al Settecento (exh. cat., Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 26 June12 October 2003), pp. 122-131. – L’Incantesimo dei Sensi. Una collezione di nature morte del Seicento per il Museo Accorsi, Turin, 2005. – 2007a: “Sull’asse Roma-Napoli : idee, legami e relazioni per la natura morta”, Paragone, 683, 2007, pp. 3-10. – 2007b : Natura Silente. Nuovi Studi sulla Natura Morta Italiana, Turin, 2007.
dalbono Edoardo – Relazione sul riordinamento della Pinacoteca di Napoli letta alla R. Accademia di Archeologia, Lettere e delle Arti, Naples, 1906.
damian Véronique – Une nouvelle contribution sur la nature morte lombarde : deux inédits. Une collection de natures mortes, Paris, Galerie Canesso, 2002. – Portrait de jeune homme de Michael Sweerts et acquisitions récentes, Paris, Galerie Canesso, 2006.
de logu Giuseppe – Natura morta italiana, Bergamo, 1962. – “Giuseppe Recco”, L’Œil, 109, January 1964, pp. 22-31.
de maio Romeo – Pittura e Controriforma a Napoli, Bari, 1983.
de mirimonde Albert Pomme – “Une nature morte énigmatique de Paolo Porpora au musée du Louvre”, La revue du Louvre et des musées de France, 3, 1970, pp. 145-154.
de rinaldis Aldo – Pinacoteca del Museo Nazionale di Napoli. Catalogo, Naples, 1911. – Pinacoteca del Museo Nazionale di Napoli. Catalogo, Naples, 1928.
de vito Giuseppe – “Aniello Falcone & Co.”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 1982, pp. 7-20. – “Un giallo per Giuseppe Recco ed alcune postille per la natura morta napoletana del ‘600”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 1988, pp. 65-127. – “Un diverso avvio per il primo tempo della natura morta a Napoli”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 1990, pp. 115-159. – “Paolo Porpora e la nascita di un genere a Napoli”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 1999, pp. 18-42. – “Una nota per Luca Forte”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 2000, pp. 18-35. – “Di alcuni aspetti della natura morta napoletana del Seicento”, Paragone, 635-637, 2003, pp. 146-150. – “Giuseppe Ruoppoli(o) contemporaneo di Giovanni Battista”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 2005, pp. 7-26. – 2006a, “Luca Forte fiorante”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 2006, pp. 11-17. – 2006b, “Note sulla natura morta napoletana del Seicento”, Paragone, 671-673, 2006, pp. 72-77.
delfino Antonio – “Nuovi documenti sulla chiesa e sul monastero di Donnaregina nel Seicento”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 1984, pp. 149-161.
della ragione Achille – Il secolo d’oro della pittura napoletana, supplement to Quattromura, 300, Naples, s. d.
di carpegna Nolfo – “I Recco: note e contributi”, Bollettino d’Arte, fasc. I-II, January-June 1961, pp. 123-132.
de caro Stefano
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de dominici Bernardo – Vite de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti napoletani, 3 vols., Naples, 1742-1745 [vol. I, ed. F. Sricchia Santoro and A. Zezza, Naples 2003; vol. II, forthcoming, with biographies of the still life painters edited by Elena Fumagalli; we are grateful to the author for her generosity in allowing us access to pre-publication proofs].
d’elia Michele – “La pittura barocca”, in La Puglia fra Barocco e Rococò, Milan, 1982.
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– “Painting Nature: Fruit, Flowers and Vegetables”, in B. L. Brown (ed.), The Genius of Rome 1592-1623 (exh. cat. London, Royal Academy of Art, 20 January-16 April 2001; Rome, Palazzo Venezia, May-August 2001), London 2001, pp. 68-88.
leone de castris Pierluigi
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giannotti Maria Teresa – 2004a, “Francesco Paolo Palizzi”, dans A. Coliva, ed., La collezione d’arte del Sanpaolo Banco di Napoli, Cinisello Balsamo, 2004, pp. 192-193. – 2004b, “Vincenzo Gemito”, in A. Coliva, ed., La collezione d’arte del Sanpaolo Banco di Napoli, Cinisello Balsamo 2004, pp. 240-241.
loire Stéphane – (ed.), Peintures italiennes du XVIIe siècle du musée du Louvre. Florence, Gênes, Lombardie, Naples, Rome et Venise, Paris 2006.
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– “Su Tommaso Salini pittore di nature morte”, Paragone, 587, 1999, pp. 96-104.
grimm Claus – “Fiandre, Olanda, Germania” and “I maestri della natura morta europea” (schede dei dipinti fiamminghi, olandesi e tedeschi), in I. Bergström, C. Grimm, M. Rosci, M. Faré, F. Faré, J. A. Gaya Nuño, eds., Natura in posa. La grande stagione della natura morta europea, Milan 1977, pp. 37-80; pp. 173-220.
gregori Mina – “La Natura morta in Toscana”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio, ed., La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 513-524. – “Note su Vincenzo Campi pittore di naturalia e su alcuni precedenti”, Paragone, 501, 1991, pp. 70-86. – “Qualche nota aggiuntiva a Luca Forte”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 1994-1995, pp. 175-181. – “Una svolta per Tommaso Salini pittore di nature morte”, Paragone, 571-573, 1997, pp. 58-63. – “La natura morta italiana e l’Europa”, in M. Gregori, ed., La natura morta italiana da Caravaggio al Settecento, (exh. cat, Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 16 June-12 October 2003), Milan 2003, pp. 15-19. – “Divagazioni su un quadro di pesci di Antonio Tanari”, Paragone, 65-66, 2006, pp. 3-48.
guglielmi Faldi Carla – “Andrea Belvedere”, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. VIII, Rome, 1966, p. 85.
helmus Liesbeth M. – (ed.), Fish. Still lifes by Dutch and Flemish masters 1550-1700, Utrecht 2004.
kiel Hanna – “Neapel”, Pantheon, 23, January-February 1965, pp. 68-69.
labrot Gérard – “Deux collectionneurs étrangers à Naples”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 1984, pp. 134-148. – (ed.), Italian Inventories 1. Collections of Paintings in Naples 1600-1780, Munich, London, New York, Paris 1992.
laureati Laura – trezzani Ludovica – “La natura morta postcaravaggesca a Roma”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio (eds.), La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 728-851.
middione Roberto – “Giuseppe Recco”, in N. Spinosa (ed.), Il patrimonio artistico del Banco di Napoli, Naples 1984, pp. 78-80. – 1989a, “Giovan Battista Recco”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio (eds.), La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 890-892. – 1989b, “Giuseppe Recco”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio (eds.), La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 903-911. – 1989c, “Giovan Battista Ruoppolo”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio (eds.), La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 916-922. – 1989d, “Giuseppe Ruoppolo”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio (eds.), La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 923-925. – 1989e, “Andrea Belvedere”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio (eds.), La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 936-940.
molajoli Bruno – Opere d’arte del Banco di Napoli: la Cappella del Monte di Pietà; la Galleria d’Arte, Naples 1953. – Notizie su Capodimonte, Naples 1957. – Notizie su Capodimonte. Catalogo delle gallerie e del museo, Naples 1964.
mormone Raffaele – “Domenico Antonio Vaccaio Architetto”, Napoli Nobilissima, vol. I, fasc. VI, 1962, pp. 222-226.
nappi Eduardo – “I viceré e l’arte a Napoli”, Napoli Nobilissima, XXII, 1-2, 1983, pp. 41-57. – “Catalogo delle pubblicazioni edite dal 1883 al 1990, riguardanti le opere di architetti, pittori, scultori, marmorari ed intagliatori per i secoli XVI e XVII, pagate tramite gli antichi banchi pubblici napoletani”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 1992.
orlandi Pellegrino-Antonio – Abecedario pittorico contenente le notizie de’ professori di pittura, scoltura, ed architettura, Naples 1733.
ortolani Sergio – “La pittura napoletana del secolo XVII”, in S. Ortolani, ed., La mostra della pittura napoletana dei secoli XVII-XVIII-XIX (exh. cat. Naples, Museo civico di Castelnuovo, s. d.), Naples 1938, pp. 11-113.
safarik E. A.
– “Testimonianze, considerazioni e problemi di restauro sui dipinti seicenteschi dell’Annunziata di Capua”, Ricerche ul ‘600 napoletano, 1984, pp. 85-95.
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pegazzano Donatella – “Documenti per Tommaso Salini”, Paragone, 571-573, 1997, pp. 131-146.
pez schez Alfonso E. – La nature morte espagnole du XVIIe siècle à Goya, Fribourg 1987. – “Don Giuseppe Recco, caballero de Calatrava”, in P. Leone de Castris (a cura di), Scritti di storia dell’arte in onore di Raffaello Causa, Naples 1988, pp. 239-242.
pozzi Giovanni – Rose e gigli per Maria. Un’antifona dipinta, Bellinzona 1987.
prota-giurleo Ulisse – “Un complesso familiare di artisti napoletani del secolo XVII”, Napoli (Rivista Municipale, edita a cura del Comune di Napoli), 1951, pp. 19-32. – Pittori napoletani del Seicento, Naples 1953.
ravelli Lanfranco – “La rappresentazione della zucca nella natura morta italiana”, Paragone, 671-673, 2006, pp. 128-136.
ricci Paolo – I fratelli Palizzi: Filippo, Giuseppe, Nicola, Francesco Paolo, Busto Arsizio 1960.
rondelet Guillaume – De piscibus marinis, Lyon 1554. – Universae aquatilium historiae pars altera, Lyon 1556.
rosci Marco – Baschenis, Bettera e Co.: produzione e mercato della natura morta del Seicento in Italia, Milan 1971. – “Italia e I maestri della natura morta europea” (entries on Italian authors), in I. Bergström, C. Grimm, M. Rosci, M. Faré, F. Faré, J. A. Gaya Nuño, eds., Natura in posa. La grande stagione della natura morta europea, Milan 1977, pp. 83-112; pp. 173-220.
roy Alain – goldenberg Paula – Les peintures italiennes du musée des Beaux-Arts, XVIe, XVIIe & XVIIIe siècles, Strasbourg 1996.
ruesch Arnold – (ed.), Illustrated Guide to the National Museum in Naples, Naples 1910.
salazar Lorenzo – “Documenti inediti intorno ad artisti napoletani del XVII secolo”, Napoli Nobilissima, IX, 1897, pp. 129-132.
salerno Luigi – La natura morta italiana, 1560-1805, Rome 1984. – Nuovi studi su la natura morta italiana, Rome 1989.
sampaolo Valeria – “Le Nature morte”, in A. Donati, ed., Romana Pictura. La pittura romana dalle origini all’età bizantina, (exh. cat. Rimini, Palazzo del Podestà e dell’Arengo, 28 March-30 August 1998), Milan 1998, pp. 276-277.
scarpa Tiziana – 2004a, “Paolo Porpora”, in A. Coliva, ed., La collezione d’arte del Sanpaolo Banco di Napoli, Naples 2004, pp. 122-123. – 2004b, “Giuseppe Recco”, in A. Coliva, ed., La collezione d’arte del Sanpaolo Banco di Napoli, Naples 2004, pp. 132-133. – 2004c, “Giovan Battista Ruoppolo”, in A. Coliva, ed., La collezione d’arte del Sanpaolo Banco di Napoli, Naples 2004, pp. 136-137.
schulze Franz – “The Collection of The First National Bank of Chicago”, Apollo, August 1972, pp. 96-105.
spinosa Nicola – 1984a, La Pittura napoletana del Seicento, Milan 1984. – 1984b, (ed.), Il patrimonio artistico del Banco di Napoli, Naples 1984. – 1989a, “La pittura del Seicento nell’Italia meridionale”, in M. Gregori – E. Schleier, eds., La pittura in Italia. Il Seicento, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 461-517. – 1989b, “La natura morta a Napoli”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio, eds., La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 852-871. – (ed.), Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples 1994. – “Fortuna critica della natura morta napoletana: progressi e ritardi”, in M. Gregori, ed., La natura morta italiana da Caravaggio al Settecento (exh. cat. Florence. Palazzo Strozzi, 16 June-12 October 2003), Milan 2003, pp. 188-193.
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– “Galleria Ruffo nel secolo XVII in Messina (con lettere di pittori ed altri documenti inediti”, Bollettino d’Arte del Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione, I-II; III-IV; V-VI, 1916, pp. 21-64; 95-128; 165-192. – La Galleria Ruffo in Messina nel secolo XVII (con molti documenti inediti), Rome 1917.
– “Collezioni e mecenati napoletani del XVII secolo”, Napoli Nobilissima, XII, 1973, pp. 145-153. – Mercanti-collezionisti fiamminghi a Napoli. Gaspare Roomer e i Vandeneynden, Massalubrense 1982.
– La nature morte de l’Antiquité à nos jours, Paris 1952. – Still Life Painting from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century, London 1959. – Still Life Painting. From Antiquity to the Twentieth Century, New York 1981. – 1989a, “Luca Forte”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio, eds., La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 872-879. – 1989b, “Giovanni Quinsa”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio, eds., La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 886-887.
– 1989c, “Paolo Porpora”, in F. Zeri – F. Porzio, eds., La natura morta in Italia, Milan 1989, vol. II, pp. 893-899. – “Giovan Battista Ruoppolo”, in Nicola Spinosa – A. Tecce, eds., La collezione d’arte del Banco di Napoli a Villa Pignatelli, Naples 1998.
– Mostra retrospettiva degli artisti salentini, Lecce 1939 (without catalogue).
– Luis Meléndez Eighteenth-Century Master of The Spanish Still Life with a catalogue Raisonné, Columbia, Missouri 1985.
tutini Camillo – De’ pittori scultori architetti miniatori e recamatori napolitani, ms. 1667 ca. (ed. by B. Croce as “Il manoscritto di Camillo Tutini sulla Storia dell’arte napoletana”, in Napoli Nobilissima, VII, 1898, pp. 121-124).
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veca Alberto – “Sulla composizione orizzontale: Italia”, in Parádeisos. Dall’universo del Fiore (exh. cat. Bergamo, Galleria Lorenzelli, October 1982), Bergamo 1982, pp. 235-244. – “Approssimazioni ed aggiustamenti per due nature morte”, Osservatorio delle Arti, 1990, pp. 82-87.
volpe Carlo – “Una proposta per Giovan Battista Crescenzi”, Paragone, 275, 1973, pp. 25-36.
wiedmann Gerhard – “Documenti sulla presenza a Roma dei Del Po, di Fanzago, Porpora e altri”, Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano, 1986, pp. 251-254. – “Considerazioni su Giovanni Andrea Coppola”, Ricerche sul Sei-Settecento in Puglia, 3, 1989, pp. 155-209.
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zeri Federico – “Giuseppe Recco: Una ‘Natura Morta’ giovanile”, Paragone, 33, 1952, pp. 37-38. – La Galleria Pallavicini. Catalogo dei dipinti, Florence, 1959 – Diari di lavoro 2, Torino 1976. – “Andrea De Lione e la Natura Morta”, in P. Leone de Castris, ed., Scritti di storia dell’arte in onore di Raffaello Causa, Naples 1988, pp. 203-208.
zeri Federico – porzio Francesco – (eds.), La natura morta in Italia, 2 vols., Milan 1989.
zuffi Stefano – (ed.), La natura morta, la storia, gli sviluppi internazionali, i capolavori, Milan 1999.
– Piccola guida della mostra della pittura napoletana del ‘600, ‘700, ‘800 (Naples, Museo di Castelnuovo, March-June 1938), Naples 1938. Lecce, 1939
– R. Causa, ed., III Mostra di restauri, Naples 1953. Sarasota, 1961
– C. Gilbert, ed., Exhibition of the Baroque Painters of Naples (Sarasota, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 4 March-4 April 1961), Sarasota 1961. Bari, 1964
– Michele D’Elia (ed.), Mostra dell’Arte in Puglia dal Tardo Antico al Rococò (Bari, Pinacoteca provinciale, s. d. 1964), Rome 1964. Parma, 1964
– A. Ghidiglia Quintavalle, ed., Cristoforo Munari e la natura morta emiliana (Parma, s. l., November 1964-January 1965), Parma 1964. Naples-Zurich-Rotterdam, 1964-1965
– La natura morta italiana, (Naples, Palazzo Reale, OctoberNovember 1964; Zurigo, s. d.; Rotterdam, fino aprile 1965), Milano 1964. Bergamo, 1968
– F. Bologna, ed., Natura in posa. Aspetti dell’antica natura morta italiana (Bergamo, Galleria Lorenzelli, settembre-ottobre 1968), Milano 1968. Bordeaux, 1969
– L’art et la musique (Bordeaux, Galerie des Beaux-arts, 30 May-30 September 1969), Bordeaux 1969. Torino, 1975
Fiori e Frutta nel XVII, XVIII e XIX secolo (Turin, Galleria Giorgio Caretto, 20 November-6 December 1975), Turin 1975. Naples, 1977
– F. Bologna – R. Causa, eds., Carlo Sellitto primo caravaggesco napoletano (Naples, Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, s. d.), Naples 1977. Milan, 1981
– C. Volpe – D. Benati, eds., Natura morta in Italia antica, moderna e contemporanea, (Milan, Galleria Philippe Daverio, s. d.), Milan 1981. London-Washington, 1982
– C. Whitfield – J. Martineau, Paintings in Naples 1606-1705. From Caravaggio to Luca Giordano (London, Royal Academy, 2 October-12 December 1982), London 1982. Paris, 1983
Exhibitions Pau, 1876
– Catalogue abrégé des tableaux exposés dans les salons de l’ancien asile de Pau appartenant aux héritiers de Feu Mgr. L’Infant Sébastien de Bourbon et Bragance, Pau 1876.
– M. de Savignac, ed., La peinture napolitaine de Caravage à Giordano, (Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, 24 May-29 August 1983), Paris 1983. Turin, 1983
– La pittura a Napoli da Caravaggio a Luca Giordano (Turin, Palazzo Reale, September-October 1983), Turin 1983.
New York-Tulsa-Dayton, 1983
– J. T. Spike, Italian Still Life Paintings from Three Centuries (New York, National Academy of Design, 2 February13 March 1983 ; Tulsa, Philbrook Art Center, 9 April-30 June 1983 ; Dayton, Dayton Art Institute, 30 July-11 September 1983), Florence 1983.
– Escales du baroque (Marsiglia, Centre de la Vieille Charité, 8 October 1988-27 January 1989; Naples, Museo di Capodimonte, s. d.), Paris 1988.
– M. Marini, ed., In Proscenio. Fingere e dipingere la natura. Nature morte italiane ed italianizzanti tra barocco e rococò (Rome, Regine’s Gallery, April-June 1984), Rome 1984. Bologna, 1984
– C. Volpe, ed., La raccolta Molinari Pradelli, Dipinti del Sei e Settecento (Bologna, Palazzo del Podestà, 26 May-29 August 1984), Florence 1984. Palermo, 1984
– M. Marini, ed., Nature morte italiane ed italianizzanti nel XVII secolo (Palermo, La Nuova Barcaccia, 28 January19 February 1984), Palermo 1984. Naples, 1984-1985
– Civiltà del Seicento a Napoli, 2 vols. (Naples, Museo di Capodimonte, 24 October 1984-14 April 1985 ; Museo Pignatelli, 6 December-14 April 1985), Naples 1984. Munich, 1984-1985
– L. Salerno, ed., Tre secoli di natura morta italiana, la raccolta Silvano Lodi (Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek, 27 November 1984-22 February 1985), Florence 1984. Budapest, 1985
– R. Middione − F. Navarro, A Nápolyi festészet aranykora XVII-XVIII század (Budapest, Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, June-July 1985), Naples 1985. Forth Worth-Toledo, 1985
– W. B. Jordan, ed., Spanish Still Life in the Golden Age 1600-1650 (Forth Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, 11 May-4 August 1985; Toledo Museum of Art, 8 September-3 November 1985), Los Angeles 1985. Bergamo, 1985
– P. Lorenzelli – A. Veca, eds., Forma vera. Contributi a una storia della natura morta italiana (Bergamo, Galleria Lorenzelli, October 1985), Bergamo 1985. Madrid, 1985
– A. E. Pérez Sánchez, ed., Pintura napolitana de Caravaggio a Giordano (Madrid, Museo del Prado, Palacio de Villahermosa, October-December 1985), Madrid 1985. Florence, 1986
– Il Seicento fiorentino. Arte a Firenze da Ferdinando I a Cosimo III (Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 21 December 1986-4 May 1987), Florence 1986. Colmar, 1986
– A Brejon de Lavergnée, Peintures napolitaines du musée des Beaux-arts et d’Archéologie de Besançon (Colmar, Musée d’Unterliden, April-May 1986), Besançon 1986. London, 1986
– Baroque III. 1620-1700 (London, Matthiesen Fine Art, 13 June-15 August 1986), Turin 1986.
– G. Sestieri, ed., Nature morte italiane ed europee dal XVI al XVIII secolo (Rome, Galleria Cesare Lampronti, 28 April- 15 June 1989), Rome 1989. Turin, 1989
– M. di Macco – G. Romano, eds., Diana trionfatrice. Arte di corte nel Piemonte del Seicento (Turin, Promotrice delle Belle Arti, 27 May-24 September 1989), Turin 1989. Naples, 1989
– N. Spinosa, ed., Capolavori dalle collezioni d’arte del Banco di Napoli (Naples, Museo Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes, 21 September-19 November 1989), Naples 1989. São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro, 1989
– O Século de Ouro da Pintura Napolitana (Sao Paulo, Museu de Arte de São Paulo, s. d.; Rio de Janeiro, Paço Imperial, s. d.), Rome 1989. Barcelona, 1990
– Nàpols i el Barroc Mediterrani La pintura mediterrania de 1630 a 1670 (Barcellona, Museu de Sant Pius V, s. d.), Valencia 1990. Palermo, 1990
– V. Abbate, ed., Pittori del Seicento a Palazzo Abatellis, (Palermo, Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, 31 March-28 October 1990), Milan 1990. Naples, 1991
– F. Bologna, ed., Battistello Caracciolo e il primo naturalismo a Napoli (Naples, Castel Sant’Elmo, Chiesa della Certosa di San Martino, 9 November 1991-19 January 1992), Naples 1991. Strasbourg-Bordeaux, 1994
– La peinture à Naples au XVIIe siècle. Œuvres des collections publiques et privées napolitaines (Strasbourg, Musée des Beauxarts, 5 March-23 May 1994; Bordeaux, Musée des Beaux-arts, 3 June-21 August 1994), Strasbourg 1994. Rome, 1994-1995
– V. Rivosecchi, ed., Arte a Montecitorio. Mostra di dipinti e sculture conservate nei palazzi della Camera (Rome, Palazzo di Montecitorio, 26 December 1994-26 February 1995), Rome 1994. Naples, 1994-1995
– P. Leone de Castris, ed., I tesori dei d’Avalos. Committenza e collezionismo di una grande famiglia napoletana (Naples, Castel Sant’Elmo, 22 October-22 May 1995), Naples 1994. Lecce, 1995
– A. Cassiano, ed., Il Barocco a Lecce e nel Salento, (exh. cat., Lecce, Museo Provinciale Sigismondo Castromediano, s. d., 1995), Rome 1995. London, 1995
– W. B. Jordan – P. Cherry, eds., Spanish Still Life from Velázquez to Goya (London, National Gallery, 22 February-21 May 1995), London 1995.
– A. Cottino, ed., La natura morta al tempo di Caravaggio (Rome, Musei Capitolini, 15 December 1995-14 April 1996), Naples 1995. Aarau-Wuppertal-Dresden-Vienna-Lausann, 1996-1997
– El Greco bis Mondrian Bilder aus einer schweizer Privatsammlung. Herausgegeben von Beat Wisner (Aarau, Aargauer Kunsthaus, 28 January-17 March 1996; Wuppertal, Von der Heydt-Museum, 21 April-16 June 1996; Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Neue Meister, 8 June-15 September 1996; Vienna, Kunstforum Bank Austria, 25 September-8 December 1996; Lausanne, Fondation de l’Hermitage, 24 January-27 April 1997), Cologne 1996. Rimini, 1996-1997
– Tra luci e ombre: la pittura a Napoli da Battistello Caracciolo a Luca Giordano, (Rimini, Museo della Città, 6 October 19966 January 1997), Naples 1996. Cremona, 1996-1997
– S. Ferino-Pagden, ed., I cinque sensi nell’arte. Immagini del sentire (Cremona, Centro culturale Santa Maria della Pietà, 21 September 1996-12 January 1997), Milan 1996. Palermo, 1997-1998
– N. Spinosa – V. Abbate, eds., Genio e Passione. La pittura a Napoli da Battistello Caracciolo a Luca Giordano e le relazioni con la Sicilia (Palermo, Chiesa di San Giorgio dei Genovesi, 7 November 1997-18 January 1998), Naples 1997. Napoli, 1997-1998
– Capolavori in festa. Effimero barocco a Largo di Palazzo 1683-1759 (Naples, Palazzo Reale, 20 December 199715 March 1998), Naples 1997. New York-Kansas City, 1999
– S. Walker – F. Hammond, eds., Life and the Arts in the Baroque Palaces of Rome. Ambiente barocco (New York, Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, 10 March-13 June 1999; Kansas City, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Arts, 21 July3 October 1999), New Haven 1999. Belgioioso-Ariccia, 2000
– F. Moro, ed., I Piaceri della Vita in Campagna nell’arte dal XVI al XVIII secolo (Castello di Belgioioso, 13 May-16 July 2000; Ariccia, Palazzo Chigi, 16 September-26 November 2000), Milan 2000. Rome, 2000 (a)
– G. Sestieri, ed., Nature morte italiane ed europee del XVII e XVIII secolo (Rome, Galleria Lampronti, 26 October15 December 2000), Rome 2000. Rome, 2000 (b)
– O. Bonfait – N. Mac Gregor, eds., Il Dio nascosto. I grandi maestri francesi del Seicento e l’immagine di Dio (Rome, Accademia di Francia, 19 October-28 January 2001), Rome 2000. Fano, 2001
– L’anima e le cose. La natura morta nell’Italia pontificia nel XVII e XVIII secolo (Fano, Edificio L. Rossi, 13 July-28 October 2001), Modena 2001. Seiji Togo-Niigata-Hakodate-Toyama-Ashikaga-Yamagata, 2001-2002
– Italian Still Life Painting, From the Silvano Lodi Collection (Seiji Togo, Memorial Yasuda Kasai Museum of Art,
28 aprile-26 maggio 2001; Niigata City Art Museum, 2 June-22 July 2001; Hakodate Museum of Art, 29 July9 September 2001; Toyama, Shimin Plaza Art Gallery, 6-28 October 2001; Ashikaga Art Museum, 3 November9 December 2001; Yamagata Museum of Art, 5 April-6 May 2002), s. l., 2001. London-Rome, 2001
– The Genius of Rome 1592-1623 (London, Royal Academy of Art, 20 January-16 April 2001; Roma, Palazzo Venezia, May-August 2001), London 2001. Havana, 2002-2003
– I tre secoli d’oro della pittura napoletana da Battistello Caracciolo a Giacinto Gigante (Havana, Museo Naciónal de Bellas Artes, 23 November 2002-15 February 2003), Naples 2002. Munich, 2002-2003
– M. Gregori, ed., La natura morta italiana tra Cinquecento e Settecento (Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, 6 December 2002-23 February 2003), Milan 2002. Florence, 2003
– M. Gregori, ed., La natura morta italiana da Caravaggio al Settecento (Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 26 June-12 October 2003), Milan 2003. Salamanca-Seville-Valencia, 2003-2004
– Tres siglos de oro de la pintura napolitana: de Battistello Caracciolo a Giacinto Gigante (Salamanca, Sala de Exposiciones San Eloy, 21 July-14 September 2003; Seville, Museo de Bellas Artes, 2 October-9 November 2003; Valencia, Museo de Bellas Artes, 27 November 2003-15 February 2004), Salamanca 2003. Madrid-Salamanca, 2005
– Del Barroco al Romanticismo pintura napolitana de la colección Neapolis (Madrid, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, 22 July-18 September 2005; Salamanca, Palacio Episcopal, 31 October-11 December 2005), Salamanca 2005. Phoenix, 2006-2007
– T. J. Loughman, ed., Fierce Reality: Italian Masters from Seventeenth Century Naples (Phoenix Art Museum, 10 December 2006-4 March 2007), Milan 2006.
photografic credits : Art et photo/ Photographies Fabrice Gousset: p. 51, 55, 57, 63, 67, 71, 79, 83, 87, 89,91, 93, 101, 109 111, 117,123, 127; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam/ Peter Mookhoek, p. 35 (fig. 2); The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, p. 83; Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie, Besançon, p. 43; Museo Civico, Gallipoli, p. 33; © Naples, Archivio dell’Arte, Luciano Pedicini: p. 10, 11 (fig.4), 24, 25, 26, 27, 53, 73, 95, 100 (fig.2), 102, 110 (fig. 1), 113, 121, 131, 133; © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 88; Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, Palermo, p. 44; © Photo RMN, p. 54 ; Musée de la Ville de Rouen – Photographie Catherine Lancien, Carole Loisel, p. 86 ; Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, p. 40; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg, p. 84; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Valence, p. 47; Gemäldegalerie der Akademie den bildenden Künste Wien p. 81. The publisher welcomes contact from copyright holders for any image whose source remains uncredited.
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