Italian Paintings With an unpublished Judith Beheading Holofernes by Giuseppe Vermiglio GRASSI STUDIO
Italian Paintings With an unpublished Judith Beheading Holofernes by Giuseppe Vermiglio
TEFAF 2015 Maastricht Stand 365
Foreword Whereas the catalogue published by Grassi Studio for last year’s TEFAF focused on only one painting - Giovanni Baglione’s remarkable Judith with the Head of Holofernes – this 2015 edition returns to the conventional format of including all the works exhibited on our stand. As in the past, the paintings on view date from several centuries and represent most of the major Italian regional schools with an emphasis on Florence and Venice. Unlike the past, however, no painting on view this year is later than the seventeenth century. Also unusual for Grassi Studio, is the presentation of a singular and seldom-seen Spanish masterwork, the Agnus Dei (or Sacriﬁcial Lamb) by Francisco de Zurbarán. As striking and ‘modern’ as this image is, it will scarcely draw attention away from the equally startling but quite different, Judith and Holofernes, by the rare Lombard Caravaggist Giuseppe Vermiglio, a recently rediscovered work. Grassi Studio is also particularly proud to offer a painting by one of the truly ‘great names’ of the Italian Renaissance: Jacopo Tintoretto. It is a fascinating example of non ﬁnito – a partially ﬁnished study on panel which, nonetheless, conveys all the vigor and compositional innovation of the master’s more fully resolved images. In stylistic counterpoint to the ‘mannerism’ of Tintoretto, visitors will see works by the nearly contemporary Florentines Giovanni Battista Naldini and Jacopo Chimenti (“L’Empoli”). We hope that this catalogue, prepared as it was by the recognised specialists in their varied ﬁelds, will serve as a useful guide to the visitors of the Grassi Studio stand and remain as a valuable reference after the TEFAF closes. We are sincerely grateful to each of those specialists for having graciously devoted their precious time and unparalleled expertise to this undertaking on our behalf. Marco Grassi Matteo Grassi
Aknowledgements Grassi Studio acknowledges and is grateful for the collaboration of the following scholars in the preparation of this catalogue:
Céline Cordier, Wildenstein Institute Frank Dabell, Temple University Rome Prof. Andrea De Marchi, Università di Firenze Dr. Odile Delenda, Wildenstein Institute Dr. Davide Dossi, Art Historian Prof. Mauro Lucco, Università di Bologna Dr. Alessandro Nesi, Art Historian Dr. Gianni Papi, Art Historian Dr. Nicoletta Pons, Art Historian Dr. Giuseppe Porzio, Soprintendenza Speciale per il PSAE e per il Polo Museale della Città di Napoli e della Reggia di Caserta
Marco di Paolo Veneziano
Miracles During the Flight into Egypt Andrea De Marchi
Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte
The Virgin Suckling the Child Andrea De Marchi
The Master of Marradi
God the Father Nicoletta Pons
The Virgin Adoring the Child, with Saint Joseph Nicoletta Pons
Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist and Saint Francis of Assisi Mauro Lucco
Innocenzo da Imola
Portrait of a Man in a Fur-lined Coat Mauro Lucco
Jacopo Robusti, called Il Tintoretto
The Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist Mauro Lucco
Andrea del Minga
Medici Allegory of Fortune Alessandro Nesi
Giovanni Battista Naldini
The Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist Alessandro Nesi
Jacopo da Empoli
The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist Alessandro Nesi
Alessandro Turchi, called lâ€™Orbetto
The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist and a Male Saint Davide Dossi
Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria Giuseppe Porzio
Francisco de ZurbarĂĄn
Lamb with its Legs Bound Odile Delenda
Giuseppe Vermiglio Judith Beheading Holofernes Gianni Papi
Miracles During the Flight into Egypt c. 1360 Marco di Paolo Veneziano Documented in Venice, Padua and Treviso from 1362 to 1393
Tempera and gold on wood panel, 27.5 x 20 cm, 10.8 x 7.8 in
12 Marco di Paolo Veneziano
PROVENANCE Paris, Eduardo Moratilla (1901-1973)1 LITERATURE Unpublished This representation of the scriptural episode of the Flight into Egypt is truly unusual. The subject of this little panel is founded on two miraculous episodes narrated by the Apocryphal Gospel of the Pseudo-Matthew (chapters 19 and 20); curiously, the customary ass is absent. It is not yet the depiction of the Rest during the Flight into Egypt, as it will be codiﬁed between the 15th and 16th century, drawing, moreover, on one of the two miracles there related: the palm that bends to offer its fruit to the Virgin and the miraculous spring that gushes forth at its roots (as in the famous canvas by Correggio in the Ufﬁzi, 1520 circa). Saint Joseph and the Virgin stand at the centre: the ﬁrst holds the Child, cosseted by two maidservants (one squeezes his bare leg), while Mary picks dates off the bent branch and a young man on the left manifests his surprise with his gesture and expression. On the right, crouched on the ground, are three animals, a lion, a wolf and a sleeping ram. The Pseudo-Matthew recounts in fact that ﬁerce beasts adored the Child when he passed through the desert, and actually assisted him and showed him the way. At the beginning he speaks of lions and leopards and of how they lived in peace with lambs and rams, thus fulﬁlling Isaiah’s prophecy (LXV, 25), according to which “wolves will pasture with lambs, the lion and the ox will eat straw together”. The ram was so relaxed that it fell asleep! And the lions kept walking with them, and with the oxen, and the asses, and the beasts of burden which carried their baggage, and did not hurt a single one of them, though they kept beside them; but they were tame among the sheep and the rams which they had brought with them from Judaea, and which they had with them. They walked among wolves, and feared nothing; and no one of them was hurt by another. (Pseudo-Matthew 19:2)
Relatively more common is the representation of the other miracle, narrated in the following chapter of the Pseudo-Matthew (20:1-2):
1 I acquired this information from two photographs once belonging to Federico Zeri (inv. 26274 and 26272), who wrote down the provenance on the back, generically classiﬁng the work among the Venetian anonymous painters from the 14th century and deﬁning the iconography as “Arrival of the Messiah”.
And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that thou sayest this, when thou seest how high the palm tree is; and that thou thinkest of eating of its fruit. […] Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed.
This episode, apparently absent in Byzantine tradition, was already present in the lower church of the Duomo of Siena, in the frescoes by Guido da Siena and collaborators datable to around 1270 (Fig. 1), discovered ﬁfteen years ago on two faces of one of the two octagonal pillars, depicting Saint Joseph holding
13 Marco di Paolo Veneziano
Fig. 1 Collaborator of Guido da Siena, Miracle during the Flight into Egypt, Siena, Cathedral, lower church
2 See L. Réau, Iconographie de l’art chrétien, Paris 1955-1959, II/2, pp. 278-280; G. Schiller, Iconographie der christlichen Kunst, Kassel 1966, I, pp. 128-129 and 131; Lexicon der christlichen Iconographie, Rom-FreiburgBasel-Wien 1970, II, col. 45. In the exegesis this episode is interpreted as a preﬁguration of the Entrance of Christ in Jerusalem, when palm branches were laid under his feet. 3 See L. Tognoli Bardin, in The Martello Collection. Paintings, drawings and miniatures from the XIVth to the XVIIIth centuries, ed. M. Boskovits, Florence 1985, pp. 94-96. 4 A. De Marchi, ‘Per un riesame della pittura tardogotica a Venezia: Nicolò di Pietro e il suo contesto adriatico’, Bollettino d’arte, LXXII, 1987, 44-45, pp. 2566; Id., Una tavola nella Narodna Galeria di Ljubljana e una proposta per Marco di Paolo Veneziano, in Gotika v Sloveniji, symposium papers (Ljubljana 20th-22nd October 1994) ed. by J. Höﬂer, Ljubljana 1995, pp. 241256.
out dates on a skewer to the Virgin and Child; the scene thus repeated, for popular devotion, the canonical Flight into Egypt, visible on the side walls, between the Presentation of Jesus in the temple and the Massacre of the Innocents. In other variations on the theme, it is the angel that picks the fruit and hands it to the sacred group. In the older versions, however, the Virgin is the main character, as on a capital in the Cathedral of Autun (1130 circa) or on a painted ceiling in Zillis (Switzerland), also datable to the 12th century. In one of the bronze panels of the San Ranieri gate, in the Cathedral of Pisa (1180 circa), the palm that miraculously bends is already present.2 The allusion to the bowing palm is quite common (see for example the octagon in the Pinacoteca Vaticana by the Master of the Ashmolean Predella), while the narration of the apocryphal episode becomes more popular in the 15th century, in particular in painted cycles in the Alps or in more provincial spheres. This painting on the contrary is Venetian. The slate green rocks, cloven by thin crevices, go back to a language which was widely shared in Paolo Veneziano’s world. The sinuous stone lobes reelaborate Byzantine models, and will later migrate, in more delicate forms, to early works by Gentile da Fabriano (scenes from the life of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Francis in the Valle Romita polyptych). The efﬂorescences which spring out from these crevices are also a Byzantine-like trait of 13th century origin, for which the large mosaic depicting the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane in the Basilica of San Marco acted as a sample: painters of the early 1300s, such as the Master of the Stories of Saint Nicolas-des-Champs, resorted to it, but in less varied forms; we ﬁnd superb proof of this in the Abduction of the Body of Saint Mark from the Pala Feriale of the Pala d’Oro (1343-1345), by the same Paolo Veneziano. The smooth locks and the methodical way of lining them with threads of light also recall Paolo’s world, but appear more softly swollen, tuned with the characteristic mix of à plomb and the more accentuated Gothic inﬂections of the robes. The green mantle of the Virgin, which folds and drops creating an animated contour, is distant from Paolo’s production, and implies a dialogue with Lorenzo Veneziano’s more lively and naturalistic style, in the third quarter of the century. In fact, the panel is perfectly recognizable as a work by a proliﬁc painter which Miklós Boskovits3 started reconstructing under the name of Master of the San Silvestro Polyptych, starting from the polyptych still visible in the eponymous Venetian church, depicting the Virgin and Child, with Saint John the Evangelist (?), Saint Nicholas and Scenes from the life of Saint James, where the central panel was replaced by a painting by Cristoforo Cortese. I later expanded the artist’s catalogue and identiﬁed him with Paolo’s third son, Marco, who signed a small, charming panel with the Madonna of Humility and a donor, formerly in the Augusto Alberici collection in Rome, and now in the Museum of Western Art in Kiev, with the inscription “MARCVS FILIVS D(OMINI) MAGISTRI PAVLI PINCXIT OHC (SIC) OPVS”.4 The round, chubby faces with bright little eyes, the turgid bodies of the ﬁgures, softened by the rhythmic cadence of the robes and by many minute details, are typical of this artist. The proﬁle of the maidservant on the left, who is holding the Child’s leg, shows sharp features and a pointed nose, like the Baby in the Ukrainian panel or Mary Magdalene in the Cruciﬁxion in the Martello Collection. The mellow, shaded complexions, the smooth heads of hair, the gestures of the sensitive, tapering hands, the long, clear-cut folds of the robes, the vivid soft green and pink inlays of colour, can be found in the Coronation of the Virgin at the centre of the polyptych in the Pinacoteca Comunale in Fermo (Fig. 2).
14 Marco di Paolo Veneziano
Fig. 2 Marco di Paolo Veneziano, Coronation of the Virgin, Fermo, Pinacoteca comunale
5 G. A. Moschini, Origini e vicende della pittura in Padova, Padova 1826, p. 9; A. Gloria, Documenti inediti attorno al Petrarca, Padova 1878, p. 41; A. Sartori, Documenti per la storia dell’arte a Padova, ed. C. Fillarini, Vicenza 1976, p. 419; L. Gargan, Cultura e arte nel Veneto al tempo del Petrarca, Padova 1978, p. 298; see also the document summary in C. Guarnieri, ‘Per un corpus della pittura veneziana del Trecento al tempo di Lorenzo’, Saggi e Memorie di storia dell’arte, 2006, 30, pp. 1-131, speciﬁcally pp. 52-54, which offers a catalogue raisonné of the eighteen works that can be attributed to him; for other additions please refer to my entry on the Saint Francis in the Berenson Collection of Villa I Tatti, in the press in the catalogue of the collection edited by Carl Brandon Strehlke and Machtelt Brüggen Israëls. 6 See E. Merkel, s. v. Donato, in Dizionario biograﬁco degli italiani, XLI, Rome 1992, pp. 6869. 7 See Guarnieri, 2006, cited in note 5, pp. 51-52. 8 A. De Marchi, Marco di Paolo Veneziano, in Gold Backs 12501480. Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd, exh. cat. (London), Torino 1996, pp. 66-71; C. Guarnieri, Problemi di attribuzione e classiﬁcazione tipologica nella pittura veneziana del Trecento, a partire da tre tavole della Collezione Crespi, in I Fondi oro della Collezione Alberto Crespi al Museo Diocesano di Milano: questioni iconograﬁche e attributive, symposium papers (11th October 2004) ed. by the Museo Diocesano of Milan, Cinisello Balsamo 2009, pp. 2447, speciﬁcally pp. 34-38. 9 A. De Marchi, Polyptyques vénitiens. Anamnèse d’une identité méconnue, in Autour de Lorenzo Veneziano. Fragments de polyptyques vénitiens du XIVe siècle, exh. cat. (Tours, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 22nd October 2005 – 24th January 2006), eds. A. De Marchi and C. Guarnieri, Cinisello Balsamo 2005, pp. 1343, speciﬁcally p. 18.
Marco di Paolo was evidently younger than Luca and Giovanni, who were already working with their father in the ﬁrst half of the ﬁfth decade, adding their signature to the Pala Feriale of the Pala d’Oro of San Marco (1343-1345). From 1362 onwards, Marco is often documented in Venice. He later moved to Padua, from 1372 to 1390, and maybe to Treviso, where he is mentioned with painter Ognibene da Verona in several notary deeds drawn up between 1391 and 1393; this can explain the heftier tones of his painting and the relative solidity of his ﬁgures, despite his strictly Venetian imprint. Moreover, it seems that he also resided in Venice, where he is registered as a citizen in December 1377, in the contrada San Luca, in the same house inhabited by his father Paolo.5 Marco di Paolo must not be confused with the far more mediocre Marco di Martino de Roxatis, brother of the Scuola Grande della Carità in 13716, who painted for the same sodality a panel with a Virgin and Child, now in the Cova Minotti Collection in Milan, around which other works of poor quality can be assembled. He mustn’t be mistaken either for his uncle Marco di Martino, Paolo’s brother, an even more elusive painter, but active much earlier on.7 His initial works are to be recognized in two small square panels datable to around 1340-1350, depicting a Virgin and Child, with Saints and stories around them, in the National Gallery of Split and in the Crespi Collection in the Museo Diocesano in Milan,8 conceived when he was still in Paolo’s workshop. I believe he actively contributed to the execution of the lively Stories from the life of Saint Martin from one of the two polyptychs painted by Paolo for the city of Chioggia in 1349.9 Though he remained faithful under many aspects to his father’s way of working, maintaining the same accentuated dark preparation layer below the ﬂesh tones and the same
16 Marco di Paolo Veneziano
Fig. 3 Marco di Paolo Veneziano, The Virgin and Child and a Franciscan Donor, Greenville, Bob Jones University Museum Fig. 4 Marco di Paolo Veneziano, Cruciﬁxion, New York, Martello collection
10 Inv. 17.1: Virgin and Child with a franciscan friar. 11 See L. Tognoli Bardin, 1985, cited in note 3, pp. 94-96. 12 We can observe that the mantle of the Madonna of Greenville was decorated with a rich ﬂounce with mordant gilded Greek frets, edged with double threading, which is more compatible with our panel.
smoky shades, Marco introduces an unmistakable vivacity to his ﬁgures, thanks to the energetic and elastic design, the darting eyes, and their occasional, almost humorous characterization. The panel has a vertical grain, and was not, therefore, part of a predella, but of a series of stories, generally arranged on two orders, aligned on either side of a larger image, according to the typology of narrative retables with eight scenes, quite popular in Venice and in general in the Adriatic area. The gesso layer was continuous, and the incision of two capitals and of the trefoil arch of the wooden frame, which would have been richly carved, still survives. I’m unfortunately unable to point out other paintings belonging to the same series, although I trust they will appear sooner or later. At the centre there could have been a Virgin and Child, like that in the Bob Jones University in Greenville (cm 80 x 49.8, Fig. 3),10 or a Cruciﬁxion, such as the Martello panel (cm 89 x 51, Fig. 4).11 The ﬁrst has a similar trefoil arch proﬁle and compatible size, if one thinks of the importance of carpentry in these structures and that narrative panels were customarily shorter than the central one. I believe this work is also referable to a relatively early phase of the painter, around 1360, and that the servants’ heads of hair can be justly compared with the Child’s. Nevertheless, the differences in the incisions of the haloes still leave me perplexed. On the contrary, a relation with the Martello Cruciﬁxion, which is inscribed in a round arch and where the hems of the Virgin’s mantle present a single rather than a double threading, must be excluded.12 In any case the choice of this subject is fairly unique, and makes one think of a cycle focused on the Stories of the Childhood of Christ, probably destined to a female monastery. The representation of a friar in the Greenville panel is not in contrast with a similar destination, owing to the fact that the guardian responsible for the monastery could sometimes be depicted. Andrea De Marchi
The Virgin Suckling the Child c. 1380/1390 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte Active in Padua between the end of the 1300s and the beginning of the 1400s
Tempera and gold on wood panel, 40.5 x 30 cm, 15.9 x 11.8 in
18 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte
LITERATURE F. Arcangeli, ‘Una Madonna di Tommaso da Modena’, Paragone, XVI, 1965, pp. 25-29
1 F. Arcangeli, ‘Una Madonna di Tommaso da Modena’, Paragone, XVI, 1965, pp. 25-29. 2 F. Zuliani, ‘Tomaso da Modena’, in Tomaso da Modena, exhibition catalogue ed. by L. Menegazzi, Treviso 1979, pp. 75109, speciﬁcally p. 108, note 54. 3 R. Gibbs, Tomaso da Modena. Painting in Emilia and the March of Treviso, 1340–80, Cambridge 1989.
This painting was published for the ﬁrst time as a work by Tomaso da Modena in a long article by Francesco Arcangeli in Paragone in 1965,1 and on that occasion Roberto Longhi felt it deserved a colour illustration, one of the ﬁrst in that journal. Arcangeli’s article was more literary than scholarly, and took the attribution to the great Emilian master almost for granted, using inspired words to expatiate upon the sense of ﬂeshy immediacy conveyed by the picture. Even though I believe his attribution was mistaken and superﬁcial, it is worth re-reading some of the poetic phrases inspired by the painting: “Look at the Child, and see the intrepid, calm familiarity in treating the sacred theme. The boldest, knowing looks of Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s children become, in comparison, ‘humanistic’ [which for Arcangeli’s singular anti-intellectualistic ideas was not a compliment], just a drawing, while here all the precedents of medieval expressionism lull to obtain the effect of the plump, lymphatic tenderness of a slow, cocoon-like wiggling: here we see soft ﬂesh (there is almost no separation between cheek and shoulder), milk, sweet blood, and the audacity of conceiving Baby Jesus as governed by almost automatic reﬂexes, in a psychophysics which is virtually animal: a hand for the rebellious bird, the other maybe for distracting an itching toe, the mouth for eagerly sucking the breast, and the eyes wide open towards us, as if comically assuring us of his presence”. The attribution to Tomaso was later rejected without ceremony by Fulvio Zuliani,2 according to whom “no comparison can be made with works undoubtedly by Tomaso (let alone with the Scenes from the life of Saint Ursula, with which Arcangeli compares it, accepting a dating around 13601366); interesting panel, in its almost exasperated manipulation of forms, difﬁcult to place in the Emilian context, but certainly not in Tomaso’s”. Even Robert Gibbs,3 in his monography, implicitly rejects Arcangeli’s attribution, as he omits even discussing the work, although he mentions the article. The bright chromatic mixtures, all of which are a play of colours between peach pink and soft orange, can recall the world of Tomaso da Modena, as does the sensation of turgid ﬂesh. The bodies and the tubular folds of the robes appear, however, more compact, and lack Tomaso’s ductile suppleness. The exceptional brightness encourages a comparison with works of his full maturity, but then we would expect a graphical blooming of details, such as the minute locks, the eyelids, the lips, etc. The right comparison would be with the Virgin Suckling the Child in Sant’Agostino in Modena, where the laughing Baby stops sucking and turns towards the spectator, the Virgin tilts her head to the other side: the round faces, thickened by shadows, are totally different, the hems of the clothes rise in a wavy rhythm that envelops the entire ﬁgure. Even in another fresco in San Biagio in Modena, depicting the same subject and datable to his later years, where the Child is absorbed in drinking, the intimate tone is accompanied by regular and rounded volumes, without the broken, abrupt rhythm of the panel under consideration. Despite the remarkable tenderness which moved Arcangeli, in this work volumes are heavier and more concise, as was the case in Veneto and Emilia in the last decades of the 14th century, in the so-called neo-Giottesque season. In fact, as we will see, there are precise connections that call for a later dating, beyond Tomaso’s time, who died in Modena between 1368 and 1379. The painting, with a vertical grain, has been reshaped with a lunette at the top and has been clearly, though only slightly, severed at the bottom, as proved by the comparison with a small panel of similar composition and practically the
19 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte
Fig. 1 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte, Virgin and Child, Formerly Rome, Paolo Paolini collection
4 The collection of Prof. Paolo Paolini, Rome. Paintings and sculptures, Italian masters X-XVI century, New York 1924, cat. no. 99. 5 In his opinion (and he was right) “the Marriage of the Virgin under the portico of the Spedale, copied in the cloister of the Duomo of Padua” was by Simone Martini (G. Mancini, Breve ragguaglio delle cose di Siena [1618-1625], Siena, Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati, ms. C. IV.18, c. 54t); “it was copied by Taddeo di maestro Bartolo in the portico of the Duomo of Padua” (Id., Considerazioni sulla pittura, ed. by A. Marucchi and L. Salerno, Rome 1956-1957, I, pp. 178-179). 6 See R. Gibbs, ‘Treviso’, in La pittura nel Veneto. Il Trecento, Milan 1992, pp. 178-246, speciﬁcally pp. 228-232 (with an unacceptable attribution to Giovanni da Bologna); A. De Marchi, ‘Il “podiolus” e il “pergulum” di Santa Caterina a Treviso. Cronologia e funzione delle pitture murali in rapporto allo sviluppo della fabbrica architettonica’, in Medioevo: arte e storia, symposium papers (Parma, 18-22 September 2007) ed. by A. C. Quintavalle, Milan 2008, pp. 385-407.
7 See F. Pellegrini, in D. Banzato and F. Pellegrini, eds., Da Giotto al tardogotico. Dipinti dei Musei Civici di Padova del Trecento e della prima metà del Quattrocento, Rome 1989, pp. 89-90 (as “Venetian painter active in the last decade of the 1300s”; there is also a reference to the opinion of Mauro Lucco, who places the work in the direction of the Master of the polypthych of Torre di Palme, therefore in a strictly Venetian context). Lucio Grossato (in Da Giotto a Mantegna, exh. cat. (Padua, 1974) ed. L. Grossato, Milan 1974, cat. 64) had referred it to the Ferrara environment of the ﬁrst years of the 15th century, on the basis of an oral opinion by Fiocco in favour of Antonio Alberti. Miklós Boskovits would have caressed the idea of connecting this work to Cennino Cennini, according to what was reported by Linda Pisani (‘Appunti su Priamo della Quercia’, Arte Cristiana, n.s., LXXXIV, 1996, pp. 171-186, speciﬁcally p. 180 note 29).
same size (cm 47.6 x 38.8), excluding the gilded band that is missing here and the limited reduction of the lower part: in 1924 it appeared in the Anderson Galleries in New York, in the sale of the Roman collection of Paolo Paolini (lot 99) (Fig. 1), with a misleading attribution by Raymond van Marle to Barna da Siena.4 Both works have a blue, darkened background, as can be sometimes found in Northern Italy, due to the desire to imitate mural painting. In both the works the haloes show a slight relief, which increases towards the top. On the background, signs of nails around the heads of the Virgin and Child testify the application of devotional coronets: therefore the painting must have been on display on an altar or at least inside a church. The Mother supports the Child’s head with her left hand, in order to help him while he eagerly drinks the milk. The Child grasps a goldﬁnch in his right hand and stretches out his left hand to touch his uplifted foot, thus crossing his legs with great vivacity. This pose, which has a symbolic meaning, premonitory of the Passion of Christ, as he crosses his arms and legs (more often grabbing his foot with the opposite hand), was quite successful around 1400, especially in Liguria, where I suspect there was a venerated prototype (maybe the Madonna of Finalpia), and from there, passed down through Taddeo di Bartolo, also in works of Sienese painters such as Paolo di Giovanni Fei. As this panel was probably executed in Padua, as we will see, it is possible that the iconographic theme was there exported by the same Taddeo di Bartolo, who, at one time or another, worked in this city, as we can deduce not only from Giorgio Vasari’s writings, but also from the description by the ever trustworthy Giulio Mancini, who, in the cloister of the Duomo of Padua, saw his Marriage of the Virgin, deriving from the lost prototype by Simone Martini on the façade of the Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala in Siena.5 History of art still holds other surprises for us. There are outstanding painters that are waiting to be identiﬁed. It’s the case of the author of this tender, bright Virgin Suckling the Child, for which we can suggest new connections, alternative to Tomaso da Modena, that allow us to give substance to an artist who worked at the turn of the 15th century in Veneto, most likely in Padua, or between Padua and Treviso, which would explain his drawing on the Emilian master. Another interesting aspect is the Madonna’s mantle being white, barely rosecoloured in the shade, instead of the customary azure, maybe to make it stand out better against the blue background: there are matching examples in mural painting in Treviso, in Tomaso’s circle (fresco by “Compagno di Tomaso” or Master of Feltre, in my opinion the same artist as Martino da Modena, in Santa Maria Maggiore), and in Padua (frescoed niche by Giusto de Menabuoi in the Scrovegni Chapel). The rosy mellowness of the ﬂesh and the wide rhythmic cadence of the draperies, with their close tubular folds, show a resemblance to the great, mysterious author in Treviso, around 1390, of several frescoes in the church of Santa Caterina of the Servite Friars (Annunciation, Thronus Gratiae, Saint Anthony Abbot, Saint Catherine, Madonna of Humility):6 see the face of the archangel in the Annunciation (Fig. 2), or the monochrome robes, somewhere between beige and pink, of the ﬂying angels around a lost Madonna of Humility (Fig. 3). A work by the same hand, still very much neglected and poorly studied, is however to be found in Padua, that being the panel in the Museo Civico (inv. 379, cm 95 x 50), representing the Madonna enthroned suckling the Child (Figs. 4, 6), from Abbot Stefano Piombin’s bequest (1887), a collection of works of local origin.7 Though most likely the central part of a polyptych, the very damaged panel presents the same composition, with the Madonna seated on an openwork throne, pierced with tiny single arched windows which remind us of Guariento’s and formerly Altichiero’s world. As in the Paolini version, the features are sharper and ﬁner, declaring the inﬂuence of Tomaso and of
20 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte
Fig. 2 Treviso Master of Santa Caterina, Annunciation, detail, Treviso, Santa Caterina Fig. 3 Treviso Master of Santa Caterina, Madonna of Humility, detail, Treviso, Santa Caterina
8 See A. De Marchi, in Moretti. Dalla tradizione gotica al primo Rinascimento, Florence 2009, pp. 50-63; M. Minardi, in S. Chiodo and S. Padovani, eds., The Alana Collection. Newark, Delaware, USA. Vol. III. Italian Paintings from the 14th to 16th century, Florence 2014, pp. 27-33 (where there is also an entry on a Madonna enthroned suckling the Child which I referred to Andrea de’ Bruni and extensively commented on in a publication from 2009, which has been totally ignored). 9 This detail may suggest an additional connection, to be considered open to question, with the head of a female Saint against a gabled throne, a fresco detached from a pillar of the porch of Piazza dei Signori, now in the Museo civico of Padua (inv. 377): F. d’Arcais, in Da Giotto..., cited in note 7, p. 76 (as “Pittore guarientesco 1350 ca”).
Emilian painting (of an artist such as Seraﬁno de’ Seraﬁni, active in Mantua and Ferrara in the eighth decade) in the smiling tenderness of the expressions, but the ornamentation, in the closely knit, mordant gilded ramages decoration on the robe, in the silver roses outlined on the mantle, in the dotted incisions of the foliate scrolls of the halo, is of Venetian coinage. Mary’s neckline and cuffs present a gilded band incised to resemble criss-cross wickerwork woven into squares, a motif that can be found in paintings from the Marches, datable to the eighth decade, by Andrea de’ Bruni, a Bolognese naturalized in Ancona, with whom our mysterious artist may have had contact in his youth. Even in the works by this artist, who painted several suckling Madonnas, the naturalistic detail of the nipple between the Child’s lips is not missing.8 These two panels therefore precede the painting under consideration, where a greater softness of ﬂesh is prevalent. The identity of hand is however conﬁrmed by many details, such as the Child’s very bright blond curls, touched by tiny intricate, darting brush strokes.9 A fourth painting, that can be linked to the same mysterious master, allows us to conﬁrm the dating of the others to the last years of the 1300s. It is a small panel depicting a Madonna of Humility from a private collection (Figs. 5, 7), still unpublished and without literature (cm 46.8 x 33.1), which shows further progress in rendering the sensation of ﬂesh, with an unctuous lustre that implies a reaction to Gentile da Fabriano, active in Venice in the ﬁrst decade of the 15th century (comparisons can be made with the bronze tones of the Madonna and Child in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria in Perugia, datable to the beginning of Gentile’s residence in Venice, or even with works by close followers, such as the one by Zanino di Pietro in the National Gallery and
21 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte
Fig. 4 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte, Virgin and Child, Padua, Musei Civici Fig. 5 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte, Madonna of Humility, Private collection
Alexandros Soutzos Museum in Athens). The Virgin is seated on the ground, in a meadow of plump grass and ﬂowers. She is no longer a Nursing Madonna. The Child thrusts out his arms to wrap them around his Mother’s neck, kicking his legs in the air, totally naked, and attempting to wriggle out of her arms while she holds him tightly, crossing her hands at the front (like the Madonna by Gentile in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Ferrara or that by Zanino di Pietro at the centre of the iconostasis of Torcello) and trying to wrap him up in a yellow cloth (even in our Madonna there is a yellow robe, with a green lining, and another small white blanket around Jesus’ naked body, which in the Paduan panel has tight sashes at the waist). The blue mantle, richly hemmed with mordant gilded ﬂounces, is amply turned over on the shoulders in order to show its rose-coloured reverse, with a solution which probably also derives from Gentile; in this way, the head remains covered by a white foulard, embroidered with minute azure motifs, and by a ﬂounce with delicate red foliate scrolls. The haloes are decorated with scrolls of ﬂowers and ﬂeshy leaves, well-deﬁned by the dotted incision, and that technically recall those in the Paduan panel, in the Virgin’s halo, where the motifs are on the other hand more linear and simple, and the internal series of small arches is missing. In the painting under consideration, on the contrary, the haloes present round and six-petal rosette punch marks, against the granulated background. Nonetheless the taste for rich and minute mordant gilded bands along the hems is alike. The new physical fragrance of the Madonna of Humility recalls the Nursing Madonna already attributed to Tomaso, as an essential traitd’union to return to the Paduan panel. The pictorial growth of this mysterious master, who could be Paduan, but might also have travelled elsewhere, between Emilia and the Adriatic, must then be analyzed in parallel with the maturity of the Venetian Nicolò di Pietro, who between the last decade of the 14th century and the ﬁrst two of the 15th abandoned the sharp and calligraphic style of his initial phase (Madonna Belgarzone, 1394) in favour of softer and more shaded solutions. Andrea De Marchi
22 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte
Fig. 6 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte, Virgin and Child, detail, Padua, Musei Civici Fig. 7 Paduan Master of the Madonne del Latte, Madonna of Humility, detail, Private collection
23 2 3
The Master of Marradi
Documented in Florence between 1496 and 1513
1 F. Zeri, ‘La mostra “Arte in Valdelsa” a Certaldo’, Bollettino d’Arte, XLVIII, 1963, 3, p. 249. 2 W. Suida, Italian Paintings & Northern Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, Atlanta Art Association Galleries, Atlanta, 1958, pp. 16-19. 3 As noted by E. Fahy, Some Followers of Domenico Ghirlandaio, New York and London 1976, p. 181. 4 E. Fahy, ‘Some Early Italian Pictures in the Gambier-Parry Collection’, The Burlington Magazine, CIX, 1967, p. 134, note 30. 5 Fahy, 1976, cited in note 3, pp. 181-185, with a list of works ascribed to this master; see also N. Pons in M. Boskovits, ed., The Martello Collection. Further paintings, drawings and miniatures 13th-18th century, Florence 1992, pp. 128-129. 6 C. Filippini, ‘Un compagno d’infanzia di Lorenzo il Magniﬁco, Taddeo Adimari, committente del “Maestro di Marradi”’, Antichità Viva, XXXI, 1992, 2, pp. 18-24. See also L. Galeotti Pedulli, Alla scoperta del Maestro di Marradi, Florence 2009. 7 R. Proto Pisani, ‘Note brevi su inediti toscani: schede del territorio di San Casciano’, Bollettino d’Arte, LXXIV, 1989, 55, p. 99. 8 Proof of “un certo gusto botticelliano”, proposed by Filippini, 1992 (cited in note 6, p. 20, ﬁgs. 8 and 9, pp. 23-24) cannot be adduced for the two small panels with the Adoration of the Magi and the Preaching and Death of Saint Peter Martyr in the Museo di Palazzo Davanzati in Florence, which she ascribes to the Master of Marradi, but in my opinion these should be given to the Master of Apollo and Daphne.
9 C. Filippini, ‘Il re Nabucodonosor e il profeta Daniele: una storia biblica illustrata dal Maestro di Marradi’, Paragone, XLIII, 1992, 503, pp. 31-37. 10 Filippini, 1992, cited in note 6, pp. 18-24. 11 C. Filippini in Maestri e botteghe. Pittura a Firenze alla ﬁne del Quattrocento, exhibition catalogue (Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 16 October 1992 – 10 January1993), ed. by M. Gregori, A. Paolucci and C. Acidini Luchinat, Cinisello Balsamo 1992, p. 197, no. 7.7. 12 Fahy, 1976, cited in note 3, p. 183. 13 On this work see also R. Proto Pisani, cited in note 7, and C. Filippini, ‘Note su una tavola pesarese del Maestro di Marradi’, Paragone, XLV, 1994, 529-533, pp. 41-46.
24 The Master of Marradi
In 1963, Federico Zeri announced his discovery of a new painter from the circle of Domenico Ghirlandaio, whose key works (and ﬁnest in quality) he had identiﬁed in the small Tuscan town of Marradi, leading him to use the name “Maestro di Marradi”.1 The same hand had already been recognized by William Suida in 1958 as the Master of the ‘Apollini Sacrum’, based on an inscription on a panel in Atlanta,2 while Roberto Longhi had nicknamed him the Maestro Tondo for the way he describes facial features, which tend to rotundity.3 It was Everett Fahy (in 19674 and again in 19765) who expanded his oeuvre, and the catalogue has been studied more recently by Cecilia Filippini, who has sought to contextualize his output through a study of documents and style, investigating his patrons, acquaintances and travels.6 While the painter’s artistic character is now better known, his biographical identity unfortunately remains unknown, devoid of any secure references to his training, activity or collaborative enterprises. Stylistic analysis nonetheless enables us to assert that we are dealing with “an extremely conservative master, rooted in a strong Florentine workshop tradition still tied to fourteenth-century modes in its use of gold, punchmarks and pastiglia, and who was also a propagator of some Renaissance innovations”.7 Working under the inﬂuence of the Florentine painters Ghirlandaio and Botticelli,8 he shares a special stylistic bond with Gherardo di Giovanni, with whom he has often been confused, while in his mature works, he reveals a greater proximity to Perugino. His oeuvre contains many works made for domestic use, such as Madonnas in adoration, cassoni and spalliere with scenes drawn from mythology and the Bible,9 but also numerous altarpieces, mostly in Marradi and in the Val di Pesa. For the prestigious Badia di Santa Reparata al Borgo he painted four altarpieces and an altar frontal, the extended output apparently proving that his association with this small locality was not merely episodic. The panel with The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Benedict, Reparata, John Gualbert and Bernardo degli Uberti was painted in 1498 for the choir of the abbey church, together with its accompanying antependium, at the behest of Taddeo Adimari. As Abbot of the monastery between 1485 and 1527, Adimari was a political opponent of Lorenzo the Magniﬁcent, and it was for this reason that he had to leave Florence.10 The archaic tone of the painting, with its gold background and frontally-arranged ﬁgures, is perfectly suited to the conservative taste of the patron and his “will to oppose Laurentian culture in favour of tradition”.11 Although they are later in date, his other works decorating the Badia (now all moved to the church of San Lorenzo in Marradi) reveal the same devout, neo-Mediaeval tendency: these include the iconic John Gualbert, the saint whose biography had been written by none other than Adimari, and the Madonna of the Misericordia (c. 1500), under whose cloak the group of faithful may include portraits of both Adimari and the painter, while the later Saint Sebastian Altarpiece has a strongly Peruginesque feel. Towards the end of the century the master probably painted the altarpiece with the Madonna and Saints in the church of Santa Maria at Novoli, about which we regrettably know neither the history nor the patronage. In 1510 the artist apparently journeyed to the Marches, since a painting by the Master of Marradi bearing this date has been identiﬁed by Fahy in the Cappella del Seminario in Pesaro;12 the work that shows that the artist was in touch with local culture.13 He returned to Tuscany, where he
painted an altarpiece with The Virgin and Child with Saints John the Baptist, Christine, James and Blaise, dated 1513, for the church of Santa Cristina in Monteﬁridolﬁ, close in style to the altarpiece for the church of San Bartolomeo in Faltignano (both locations are near San Casciano in Val di Pesa).14 These two works – each made for small churches in the Val di Pesa, and similarly archaizing in their background setting, deﬁned by drapes and cypress trees – speak of a ﬁgurative culture that had by now become retardataire, though entirely typical of the artist’s style.
14 See Proto Pisani, cited in note 7.
God the Father 1498/1500 The Master of Marradi
Tempera and gold on wood panel, 21 x 24.2 cm, 8.2 x 9.5 in
26 The Master of Marradi
Fig. 1 Master of Marradi, The Virgin and Child and Saints Benedict, Reparata, John Gualbert and Bernardo degli Uberti, Marradi, church of San Lorenzo (formerly in the Badia di Santa Reparata al Borgo) Fig. 2 Master of Marradi, Saint Reparata, antependium, Marradi, church of San Lorenzo (formerly in the Badia di Santa Reparata al Borgo) Fig. 3 Master of Marradi, The Virgin and Child, whereabouts unknown Fig. 4 Master of Marradi, The Kiss of Judas, Florence, Ufﬁzi Gallery, storerooms Fig. 5 Jacopo del Sellaio, The Virgin and Child, Lastra a Signa, Museo di San Martino a Gangalandi Fig. 6 Jacopo del Sellaio, God the Father, lunette, Lastra a Signa, Museo di San Martino a Gangalandi
1 C. Filippini, ‘Un compagno d’infanzia di Lorenzo il Magniﬁco, Taddeo Adimari, committente del “Maestro di Marradi”’, Antichità Viva, XXXI, 1992, 2, pp. 18-19. 2 Vienna, Palais Dorotheum, 6 October 2009, lot 43. 3 A picture which must have had the same fate is Biagio d’Antonio’s God the Father (London, Courtauld Institute Galleries, Gambier-Parry Collection), a fragment of almost identical iconography and dimensions (19.8 x 24.2 cm), illustrated in R. Bartoli, Biagio d’Antonio, Milan 1999, pp. 204-205.
The work appeared on the art market eight years ago with the correct attribution to the Master of Marradi. The delicate, almost miniaturist handling of paint, is characteristic of the painter in his career as forzierinaio (cassone painter), in the tradition of Apollonio di Giovanni and Marco del Buono.1 The physiognomy adopted here, with a round face and a long, pointed nose, recalls those of the saints in the Santa Reparata altarpiece in Marradi (Fig. 1), or the ﬁgure of Saint Reparata herself in the paliotto (antependium, or altar frontal) accompanying it, both now in the church of San Lorenzo in Marradi (Fig. 2) and both datable to 1498, thus offering a secure point of reference for our painting. This small panel represents God the Father blessing, robed in red, holding an open book bearing the letters Alpha and Omega, as used in the Apocalypse (1:8): “I am the Alpha and the Omega”. Bright colouring, and especially the use of red tonalities, is typical of the artist’s palette, as one can see in numerous works including the Virgin and Child2 (Fig. 3) and The Kiss of Judas (Florence, Ufﬁzi Gallery, storerooms; Fig. 4), aside from the panels in Marradi mentioned above. Often the image of a blessing God the Father was placed in the lunette over a Virgin Mary (compare, for example, the Madonna by Jacopo del Sellaio in the museum at San Martino a Gangalandi; Figs. 5 and 6), or as part of an altar panel, in the latter case only bustlength. It is found half-length in the upper parts of altarpieces (such as Biagio d’Antonio’s panel in the church of San Francesco in San Casciano in Val di Pesa) or smaller devotional panels like the Virgin and Child and Saint Joseph by the Marradi Master (whereabouts unknown; Fig. 7), though the ﬁgure is shrouded in a mandorla of angels. In a separate instance, the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany inserted a panel with Christ as God and two laterals with Saints Andrew and Dionysius, within a structure “framing” a fresco by Bastiano Mainardi (Florence, Soprintendenza; Fig. 8). In the work before us, the pointed top with the blue background is surrounded by a gilded framing element, reﬂecting the neo-Trecento taste we have noted as one of the artist’s hallmarks: this is clearly a fragment, cropped from a larger composition.3 The panel’s small dimensions suggest that the ﬁgure formed part of a painting destined for private devotion rather than a large altarpiece. Nicoletta Pons
27 The Master of Marradi
Fig. 7 Master of Marradi, The Virgin and Child and Saint Joseph, whereabouts unknown Fig. 8 Master of the Fiesole Epiphany, God the Father, Saint Andrew and Saint Dionysius, Florence, Soprintendenza
Bastiano Mainardi San Gimignano, 1466 - Florence, 1513
1 L. Venturini, ‘I Mainardi di San Gimignano ospiti di Benozzo’, in E. Castelnuovo and A. Malquori, eds., Benozzo Gozzoli. Viaggio attraverso un secolo, symposium papers (Florence and Pisa, 8-10 January 1998), Pisa 2003, pp. 133-134. The article provides biographical information on the artist and his family. 2 L. Venturini, ‘Tre tabernacoli di Sebastiano Mainardi’, Kermes, V, 15, 1992, note 7, p. 47. On the artist see also the entry by V. Sapienza on Mainardi, Bastiano in Dizionario Biograﬁco degli italiani, 67, Rome 2006, pp. 556-558. 3 Venturini, 1992, cited in note 2, p. 43. 4 Venturini, ‘Il Maestro del 1506: la tarda attività di Bastiano Mainardi’, Studi di Storia dell’Arte, 5-6, 1994-1995, p. 124. 5 J. K. Cadogan, Domenico Ghirlandaio Artist and Artisan, New Haven and London 2000, p. 168. 6 Venturini, 1992, cited in note 2, pp. 45-46. 7 The ﬁgures of saints ﬂanking the Virgin, notwithstanding their very poor condition and legibility, appear to be by the hand of one of Mainardi’s assistants, already recognizable in the frescoed Saint Peter Martyr and Saint Peter the Apostle in San Lorenzo a Cappiano (Incisa): see N. Pons, ‘Artisti e committenti a Figline (e dintorni) fra Quattrocento e Cinquecento’, in Arte a Figline. Da Paolo Uccello a Vasari, exhibition catalogue (Figline Valdarno, 2013), ed. by N. Pons, Florence 2013, p. 36, and L. Bencistà, therein, p. 122. For information and an image of the Poggerello tabernacle, see M. Cantini, Tabernacoli di Fiesole, Firenze 2010, pp. 39-43, in which the author attributes the work to Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio. 8 Cadogan, 2000, cited in note 5, p. 165.
Bastiano Mainardi’s ties to the Bigordi family were not only professional but familial, since in 1494 he married Alessandra Bigordi, the half-sister of Domenico, David and Benedetto Ghirlandaio.1 Bastiano (more properly Sebastiano) was born in San Gimignano in 1466, and it was there that he came into contact with the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio, which from 1475 onwards was engaged on the decoration of the Chapel of Santa Fina in the Cathedral; he was probably involved in the Florentine painter’s project as a young garzone, or workshop assistant. It was in San Gimignano in 1484 that Bastiano painted his ﬁrst documented work, a lost “cortina per l’altar maggiore” (curtain or drape for the high altar).2 Ghirlandaio’s imprint immediately and clearly reveals itself in the Bastiano’s own frescoes in the nave of Sant’Agostino, representing Saint Geminianus Blessing Three Illustrious Men of San Gimignano (dated 1487) and the Tomb Monument of Domenico Strambi (dated 1488); this is evident in the compositional format, descriptive portraiture and even technique, “informed by that of the murals by Ghirlandaio”.3 His career was subsequently divided between Florence and San Gimignano, and he supported himself through the family workshop of his future brothers-in-law, but also worked independently, although there is no documentation of any shop of his own.4 Two tabernacles in and around Florence are close in style to the frescoes in Sant’Agostino – one at Brozzi and the other (consisting of a modernization of an older one painted for the Teri family) now in the Museo di San Marco, Florence – and they not only attest to Mainardi’s predilection for this kind of mural painting but also bear witness to his Florentine presence. He is documented in the city in 1489 as a member of the Compagnia di San Paolo, a confraternity to which the Ghirlandaio brothers also belonged.5 There are a number of street tabernacles attributable to the painter, including one in the Via San Giovanni in San Gimignano (c. 1495)6 and the very damaged Poggerello tabernacle in Fiesole, which bears the coat of arms of the Romoli and which I here propose as belonging to the same hand, at least as regards the ﬁgure of the Virgin.7 (Fig. 1). In 1490 Bastiano painted frescoes for the Bargello, as well as the frescoed Assumption in the Baroncelli Chapel in Santa Croce, a work that Vasari says was executed using a cartoon by his master Domenico: this would support the view of the Ghirlandaio workshop being a highly organized body to which Bastiano continued to refer. Between 1492 and 1494, in the wake of the Ghirlandaio brothers, Mainardi was also in Pisa, often acting as recipient of payments to the head of the workshop when he was absent. Pisa also saw him fulﬁlling an independent commission for a frescoed Assumption of the Virgin for the Palazzo dei Priori, now lost.8 During the ﬁrst years of the new century Bastiano was once again active in his native San Gimignano, where he took on the role of what we could deﬁne as “civic painter”,9 with works attesting to an ever more personal and deﬁned style. His commissions were numerous and prestigious, and included the frescoes in the Chapel of Saint Bartolo in Sant’Agostino (1500); those for the Ospedale di Santa Fina (formerly the Chapel of Saints Fina and Gregory; 1505); the altarpiece of The Virgin and Child between Saints Jerome and
28 Bastiano Mainardi
Fig. 1 Bastiano Mainardi and collaborators, Tabernacolo del Poggerello, Fiesole
Bernard Tolomei (dated 1502), painted for the Mainardi family itself – whose coats of arms it bears – for the sacristy of the church of Monteoliveto; and the Virgin and Child Enthroned and Saints Francis and Julian (now in the Bordonaro Collection, Palermo; dated 1506), made for the Mainardi’s trusted family notary, Pietro Nori, which Bastiano painted for the church of San Francesco. Between 1505 and 1507 was active in the Florentine Valdarno, and it may have been for Guglielmo di Paolo Altoviti – for whom he had painted the panel with The Virgin with the Dead Christ on Her Lap, between Saints John the Baptist and Paul in the Palazzo del Vicariato in Certaldo, in the Valdelsa (now in the Museum in Schwerin) – that he painted a fresco (1505) and a panel (1507) for San Lorenzo a Cappiano (near Incisa Valdarno), a church of which the Altoviti family were patrons.10 In the same area Mainardi also frescoed a street tabernacle with Tobias and the Archangel, opposite what is now the ex-church of San Biagio al Castello (Incisa Valdarno) – a fragmentary shadow of itself, currently housed in the church of Sant’Alessandro at Incisa.11 Dating from these years, too, is the altarpiece for the church of San Giusto at Falgano, in the Valdisieve (now in the Indianapolis Museum of Art), dated 1507 and executed using the same cartoon as in the panel at Cappiano.12 Between 1503 and 1505 he is recorded as contributing his regular membership fees to the Compagnia di San Luca in Florence.13 Documents of 1504 speak of the collaborative production of twenty painted drappeloni (banners) with Arcangelo del Sellaio, son of the better-known Jacopo, with whom one notes a stylistic rapprochement in Bastiano’s late period. Indeed works such as the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Benedict, Michael, Cassian, Ambrose, Andrew and Dominic (1511) in the church of Santo Stefano at Palazzuolo sul Senio reveal the emergence of an archaizing phase, the same that marks the style of his colleague Arcangelo.14 Mainardi painted other drappeloni for San Gimignano in 1507, although payments to Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio for similar work would lead us to posit that it was Ridolfo who received the commission and payment for paintings that were then carried out by Bastiano, thus conﬁrming that he was still in contact with the Ghirlandaio shop.15 In 1511 he was described as “pictor et presens habitator in civitate Florentie”, a sign that he was by now living permanently in the city. Mainardi died there in 1513, a victim of the plague that was ravaging Florence.16
9 Venturini, 2003, cited in note 1, p. 139. 10 Venturini, 1994-1995, cited in note 4, pp. 130-131 and 133; Pons, 2013, cited in note 7, pp. 34-35. 11 Bencistà in Arte a Figline, cited in note 7, pp. 120-123. 12 Venturini, 1994-1995, cited in note 4, note 112, pp. 140-141, and Bencistà in Arte a Figline, cited in note 7, p. 122. 13 Venturini, 2003, cited in note 1, p. 130. 14 Venturini, 1994-1995, cited in note 4, p. 132. 15 Venturini, 1994-1995, cited in note 4, p. 133. 16 Venturini, 1994-1995, cited in note 4, p. 134.
The Virgin Adoring the Child, with Saint Joseph c. 1505/1510 Bastiano Mainardi
Oil and tempera on wood panel, Ă˜ 92 cm; 36.2 in
30 Bastiano Mainardi
PROVENANCE Budapest, Ernst Museum, Hugo von Kilényi sale, 26 November 1917, lot 79 LITERATURE L. Venturini, ‘Il Maestro del 1506: la tarda attività di Bastiano Mainardi’, Studi di Storia dell’Arte, 5-6, 1994-1995, p. 134, ﬁg. 42 p. 178
1 L. Venturini, ‘Il Maestro del 1506: la tarda attività di Bastiano Mainardi’, Studi di Storia dell’Arte, 5-6, 1994-1995, p. 134. 2 Venturini, 1994-1995, cited in note 1, p. 134 and notes 119-123 p. 141. Some of these panels also appear with the correct attribution to Mainardi in the photo archive of the Fondazione Federico Zeri in Bologna (Fototeca nos. 12761 and 12776). 3 L. Venturini, ‘Modelli fortunati e produzione in serie’, in Maestri e botteghe. Pittura a Firenze alla ﬁne del Quattrocento, exhibition catalogue (Florence, 1992) ed. by M. Gregori, A. Paolucci and C. Acidini Luchinat, Cinisello Balsamo (Milan) 1992, p. 151.
This is a painting made for private devotion in a domestic setting, depicting the Holy Family, with the Virgin adoring the Child and Saint Joseph sitting beside them, absorbed in his own thoughts. This sort of work tells us that Mainardi was active and sought-after, not only as a painter of frescoes and important altarpieces but also of numerous devotional paintings, particularly in the widespread tondo format. The panel was published by Lisa Venturini in her fundamental essay on Bastiano Mainardi, as one of a series of images of the Nativity in a circular format, all datable to his late period in San Gimignano.1 Cleaning has conﬁrmed the attribution, even more clearly revealing Mainardi’s stylistic hallmarks and his debt to his master, Domenico Ghirlandaio. The pose of the Christ Child, for example, is derived, in reverse, from a variant of the latter’s Adoration of 1485 in the Sassetti Chapel in Santa Trinita, Florence, as is the sarcophagus next to the ox and the ass, though it is described in a simpler fashion. Saint Joseph is instead inspired by the corresponding ﬁgure painted by Domenico in the Tornabuoni Adoration (Ufﬁzi Gallery), dated 1487. Mainardi always kept alive his ties to the Ghirlandaio workshop and it was thus natural that he would have had access to their drawings and concepts, whether these were ideas conceived by Domenico or subsequently by his nephew Ridolfo, whose late works inspired our artist. As Venturini pointed out, a number of variants of this composition exist, including the following: one auctioned by Christie’s in London in 1995 (having been on the art market in Arezzo in 1989) (ﬁg. 2), another in the National Museum in Warsaw (inv. 131639) (ﬁg. 3), the one formerly in the Museum in Stuttgart, and the panel on the art market in Munich and Lucerne between 1988 and 1992 (ﬁg. 4).2 “For this kind of serial production, we may suppose that not every piece was the result of a commission, but that a certain quantity of works were prepared independently and not associated with a speciﬁc request”.3 We could also hypothesize the presence of a successful prototype by Ghirlandaio, replicated by Mainardi as a loyal collaborative member of his workshop, as happened, for instance, in the case of the numerous versions of Domenico’s tondo with The Virgin, Child, Young Saint John the Baptist and three Angels in the Louvre, replicated by various assistants, and by Mainardi in the version in San Gimignano.4 Indeed even after Ghirlandaio’s death in 1494 Bastiano continued to use models that had in all likelihood been prepared by the master, often by assembling cartoons of single ﬁgures drawn from his most successful compositions. The sarcophagus bears very worn traces of an original inscription in gold lettering, now scarcely legible. More likely than a signature, this could have been an inscription regarding the patron, as is often the case with the painter’s works on panel. Nicoletta Pons
4 Venturini, 1992, cited in note 3, p. 151.
31 Bastiano Mainardi
Fig. 2 Bastiano Mainardi, The Virgin Adoring the Child, with Saint Joseph, whereabouts unknown Fig. 3 Bastiano Mainardi, The Virgin Adoring the Child, with Saint Joseph, Warsaw, National Museum Fig. 4 Bastiano Mainardi, The Virgin Adoring the Child, with Saint Joseph, whereabouts unknown
Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi Ferrara, c. 1501 - 1556
The son of the painter Tommaso Sellari – who often appears in accounting documents of the Este household for minor works such as the decoration of frames, saddles, cribs or ceiling mouldings – Girolamo was born at an unspeciﬁed date in Ferrara. The sufﬁx “da Carpi” by which he is universally known derives from the fact that his grandfather Pietro Angelo was a native of that city in Modenese territory; but there can be no doubt about his birth in Ferrara, because during his own lifetime he is referred to as Ferrarese by Giovan Battista Giraldi Cinzio, for whom Girolamo painted the scenes from the pastoral fables Orbecche and Egle. Giorgio Vasari, who was a friend of his, states that he died aged 55 in 1556, so we can directly deduce he was born in 1501, or at the latest in 1502 (given that years were computed using a different mode from ours). The truth is that even the exact date of Girolamo’s death is unknown, but it must have occurred in 1556, as his name no longer appears in the Este payment account-books after the 1st of August of that year; indeed a marginal note next to the ﬁnal appearance of his name states “morse” (“he died”). According to Vasari, Girolamo da Carpi was the pupil of Garofalo, which would enable us to resolve the reference to a “gnolimo” (Gerolamo) who worked between January and March 1520, together with the older master, on a now lost altarpiece for the Compagnia della Morte in the Palazzo della Ragione in Ferrara. Documents regarding our artist during this youthful period are rather scarce; in fact we have to wait until August 1525 to ﬁnd another record of Girolamo, now working alongside Biagio Pupini and Girolamo Borghese in the frescoed decoration of the sacristy of San Michele in Bosco in Bologna, a project that was to conclude by May 1526. The next documentation appears on 6 August 1530, in Ferrara, where our painter is paid for having carried out frescoes in the church of San Francesco, of which only two spandrels have come down to us, with ﬁgures of Saint Ursula and Saint Catherine of Alexandria. During the decade 1520-1530 he was constantly on the move between Bologna, Modena and Parma, with a return to Bologna and ﬁnally Ferrara, as recorded by Vasari, who based his text on the artist’s own account. Some scholars believe that in 1525-1526 Girolamo may have made his ﬁrst visit to Rome, but how this can be reconciled with his undertaking at San Michele in Bosco has never been explained. The date 1532 appears on a cartouche on the wooden frame of the altarpiece in San Martino in Bologna, and as we may deduce from two letters addressed to Pietro Aretino by Benedetto Alessi, and from GiorgioVasari, Girolamo was resident in Florence in 1534-1535. We meet him again on 22 July 1536, when the new Duke of Ferrara Ercole II summoned him, together with “suo compagno” Garofalo, to the Delizia di Belriguardo, the Este villa south-east of Ferrara. The reference to professional partnership may have been made in relation to the frescoes in the refectory of the convent of San Giorgio, from which there survive seventeen roundels with ﬁgures of Saints, divided between the collections of the Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara and the now-dispersed Severi collection in Carpi. In 1537 he was at work on frescoes in some unidentiﬁed rooms, and in the Duke’s “camerino piccolo”, as well as in rooms at Belriguardo, where all the major Ferrarese painters worked. At the same time, in his role as architect, he oversaw the building of the Palazzo NaselliCrispi, a project praised in the same year by Sebastiano Serlio. On 13 May 1538 he married Caterina Amatori, and 19 June 1539 saw the birth of their
32 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
son Giulio Pietro Ludovico, who would in turn also become a painter, but about whom we know nothing. The dates of birth of three of the ﬁve children he had by Caterina are unknown: these are his third son Mandricardo and two daughters, Maddalena and another girl whose name remains unknown. According to Vasari, in 1540 “una Venere ignuda a giacere” (a nude reclining Venus) by our artist, regarded as “bellissima”, was sent by Ercole II as a gift to François I, King of France; and in 1541 Girolamo painted the scenes for Giraldi Cinzio’s Orbecche, premiered at the author’s house. Throughout that year there are also various payments for work done “in Corte” (i.e., in the Este castle); on 21 October he was paid for “uno quadro a facto per il Signor nostro dove ge suso la ocasion e la pazentia”, which is the painting now in the Dresden Picture Gallery, inv. 142, the ﬁrst of several works destined for the “stancie nove de Corte” (the new court rooms). From this moment on, hand in hand with the death of Dosso, Girolamo da Carpi assumes the role of the most important painter active at the Ferrarese court, while his old teacher Garofalo still remained the most eminent artist, especially (but not exclusively) for the kind of religious and devotional painting sought by the churches and confraternities. Gradually Girolamo became responsible not just for art but for concepts, and then the true arbiter of court taste, receiving commissions that touched on architecture, furnishing, conservation, diplomacy, and so on. We know of several journeys he made on behalf of the Duke to Mirandola, Milan, Mantua, Bologna, and to an unspeciﬁed location, the latter lasting 17 days. In December 1543 his second son Annibale, also destined to become a painter, was baptised; in later years, we know that he painted the façade of the Oratory of Santa Maria della Scala. Until the beginning of July 1549 Girolamo appears in numerous documents in or around Ferrara with regard to his activity for the Este court and the various Ducal residences, above all at Copparo, whose decoration was almost his exclusive responsibility, as both painter and project manager; in 1543 and 1544 he was paid for two other works, both now in Dresden: Venus on the Eridanus and Ganymede. 24 February 1545 saw the court production of the Egle, the other work by Giraldi Cinzio, with sets by Girolamo. Between August 1549 and December 1553 the artist was in Rome with Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, for whom he may have worked on the decoration of the prelate’s villa at Montecavallo (on the Quirinal Hill), designing and executing its adjacent garden; we know that his skills in topiary art earned him the patronage of Pope Julius III, who in 1550 summoned him to the Vatican to work on the architectural project for the Belvedere; however this was shortlived and of little importance, evidently because the two did not see eye to eye on questions of taste. Having returned to being a garden architect for the Este Cardinal, Girolamo also became notably involved in Classical culture, reﬂected in a substantial quantity of drawings after the antique; indeed on 21 December 1550, by way of the Cardinal, Duke Ercole II sought Girolamo’s opinion about an ancient statue that had been discovered at Tivoli, with a view to acquiring it. After his return to Ferrara, when a ﬁre had broken out in the Castle’s Torre della Marchesana on 1 February 1554, the Duke entrusted Girolamo with the restoration of the building, a radical refurbishing that transformed the medieval structure into the splendid one we admire today. It was working on this project, which probably also involved modernizing the furnishings and certainly renewing the tapestries, that our artist spent his concluding years, interrupted by an early death shortly after 1 August 1556.
33 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist and Saint Francis of Assisi c. 1527/1530 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
Oil on wood panel, 55.8 x 43.5 cm, 22 x 17.1 in
34 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
LITERATURE A. M. Pedrocchi, Le Stanze del Tesoriere. La Quadreria Patrizi: cultura senese nella storia del collezionismo romano del Seicento, Milan 2000, pp. 172-173, no. 67
1 A. M. Pedrocchi, Le stanze del Tesoriere. La Quadreria Patrizi: cultura senese nella storia del collezionismo romano del Seicento, Milan 2000, pp. 172-173. 2 M. Minozzi, ‘Inventari’, in Le stanze 2000, cited in note 1, pp. 389, 394 and 433, respectively. 3 Minozzi, 2000, cited in note 1, pp. 389, 398 and 399, in that order. 4 Minozzi, 2000, cited in note 1, pp. 386, 400, 430, 387.
This painting, which has survived in almost exceptional condition, was published for the ﬁrst time by Anna Maria Pedrocchi (2000) as a work by Innocenzo da Imola, datable to about 1525-1530,1 “the period in which he was closest [...] to Florentine culture”, because of the “evident echoes of Andrea del Sarto”, but which are not so easily identiﬁable, to our eyes; if anything the evocation is more that of Raphael. In the opinion of the Italian scholar, “although the description of two paintings listed in the inventory of Monsignor Costanzo [Patrizi] [...] does not perfectly match our panel [...] it is possible that the work was part of his original collection”; the reference is to “un altro quadro d’una Madonna con Christarello, San Giovanni, Santa Caterina e San Giuseppe mano di Innocentio da Imola con cornice intagliata e tutta indorata, scudi settanta”, or to “un altro quadro di una Madonna con Christarello, San Giuseppe et Santa Anna in tavola mano di Innocentio da Imola con cornice d’oro, scudi ottanta”, mentioned in the 1624 inventory, and then again (but only the ﬁrst of the two pictures) in 1654. Not cited in the subsequent inventories of 1689 and 1749, these two panels seem to have vanished, lost during some move; in 1814, however, we ﬁnd a “quadro sopra tavola di scuola ferrarese rappresentante Maria SS.ma con Bambino e S. Antonio Abbate cornice dorata ad oro buono mediocre grandezza, franchi 161”,2 which Pedrocchi believes might be ours. The inventories of the Patrizi household can be somewhat approximative, as far as the description of subjects goes, so it might not seem so strange that a clearly unambiguous Saint Francis could be mistaken for a Saint Joseph. But if we accept the error of identiﬁcation then many other possibilities appear: for example, if we also bear in mind the imprecise attributions, our panel may correspond to “un quadro d’una Madonna con Christarello et San Giovanni et San Giuseppe in tavola mano di Pierino del vago con cornice tutta indorata scudi 120”, mentioned in 1624, or “un quadrettino d’una Madonna, Christarello, S. Giovanni e S. Giuseppe di Jacomo da Consorto in tavola cornice tutta d’oro” in the 1689 inventory, or again, in the same year, a “un quadretto in tavola di una Madonna Christarello, S. Giovanni e S. Giuseppe con cornice tutta tocca d’oro” or “un quadro in Tavola con Madonna Christarello, S. Giovanni S. Giuseppe con un poco di paese cornice Tocca d’oro”.3 The lack of any more speciﬁc details rules out a secure identiﬁcation. We might also accept that a slip of the pen or momentary fatigue and boredom on the part of the compilers of the inventories could lead to an ellipsis, and thus that our picture may be the “Madonna con suo Cristarello et. S. Giovanni Battista con cornice dorata…” cited in the inventory of 1614, or the “Madonna Christarello con un ucelletto in mano S. Giovanni in tavola cornice intagliata dorata” listed in 1689, or “una Madonnina sopra tavola con Bambino e S. Giovanni cornice come sopra franchi 107” in 1814. Maybe it was the Ferrarese painting mentioned above, where the ellipsis would concern the young Baptist, and in this last instance there would be two other potential candidates, “una Madonna con Christarello Santo Giuseppe mano di Titiano con cornice tocca d’oro scudi 150” and “una Madonna con Christarello et santo Giuseppe mano del Palma senza cornice scudi 50”, recorded in 1624.4 Much harder to imagine, to my mind, is the notion that a cataloguer’s inaccuracy could be prompted by the inclusion of a ﬁgure which simply isn’t visible in our painting, such as a Saint Catherine, or a Saint Anne. If all this seems hard to believe, and consequently excludes Pedrocchi’s hypothesis, then any credit given to the old attribution to Innocenzo da Imola
35 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
5 Minozzi, 2000, cited in note 1, p. 399. 6 R. Longhi, ‘Ampliamenti nell’Ofﬁcina Ferrarese (1940)’, in Edizione delle Opere Complete di Roberto Longhi. V. Ofﬁcina Ferrarese, Florence 1968, pp. 162165. 7 I. B. Supino, ‘Per un quadro bolognese nella Galleria di Dresda’, in Nozze Treves-Artom, VII Aprile MCMXXVII, Bologna 1927, especially p. 14: “Et pro quo magistro Hieronymo et eius parte Comes Baptista quondam Co. Andalò de Bentivoliis nobilis etc. sciens etc. promisit et iuravit”. 8 G. Agostini and C. Pedrini, ‘Decus Civitatis Imolae. La formazione di Innocenzo attraverso i documenti’, in Innocenzo da Imola. Il tirocinio di un artista, ed. by G. Agostini and C. Pedrini, Casalecchio di Reno, 1993, pp. 31-42, especially pp. 3839.
is also voided – especially since our panel could surely be more easily and precisely identiﬁed as the “Madonna Christarello S. Giovanni Battista e S. Francesco cornice indorata e intagliata”, without any authorship attached, which in 1689 was displayed in the “seconda stanza principiando dalla Galleria di Sopra” of the Patrizi’s Roman palace opposite San Luigi dei Francesi.5 Even if this were so (and we cannot be sure), ascertaining who painted it must therefore be solely based on connoisseurship. One regrets to admit that the capacities of the eye are very often obscured by the reassuring veil of ideology or critical leanings to the a priori frame of mind; and this phenomenon is particularly grave in the case of Bolognese painting of the ﬁrst half of the 1500s, and directly concerns our problem. Indeed many in this ﬁeld of study still agree with Roberto Longhi’s idea6 that the altarpiece formerly in the Hospital of San Biagio in Bologna, destroyed in Dresden in 1945 (Fig. 1), was a work by Girolamo da Carpi, not Girolamo da Treviso, to whom it had been commissioned on 3 November 1523, with a document bearing the manifest guarantee of Count Battista, son of the late Andalò Bentivoglio, who personally swore that the agreement would be upheld.7 It is no coincidence that this fact was deliberately and always passed over by Longhi and his followers. Contracts for works of art, it is true, relate details of artists’ abilities in the ﬁnancial, not aesthetic realm; but one cannot for that reason ignore them, or discard them as useless, because these are the details that need to be followed up. An artist’s failure to observe a contract would have inevitable (albeit only more or less grave) consequences in civil law. Yet there is no known trace of such an outcome, and the practice among notaries was to attach any dispute to the original contract – a sign, I believe, that the agreement was followed to the letter. In the document, Girolamo da Treviso agrees to bear the expenses for carpentry involved in constructing the panel, and what is more, on the same occasion, receives an initial advance of ten ducats out of a total of the stipulated thirty-ﬁve. How, then, and on what basis, could he have transferred the commission, for which he had already received a down payment, to Girolamo da Carpi, or perhaps allow him to steal it from under his nose, and worse, at his own expense? Should we think of him as a benefactor of young talented artists (who were practically his age, one might add)? Someone who could calmly spend his own money on behalf of other people, instead of attending to his own life and earnings? If such a substitution did take place (and history shows it only on rare occasions), how could such a blatant infringement of social rules allow the painter to continue to live and work in Bologna unimpeded, and even contemporaneously paint other pictures, both for his guarantor (the Adoration of the Magi in London, based on a cartoon by Baldassarre Peruzzi) and for such prestigious sites as San Petronio? And what should we say about the possible loss of credibility and honour on the part of Count Bentivoglio? We may add here that six years earlier it was Bentivoglio who had provided the same type of guarantees to Barnaba Cevenini, Prior of San Michele in Bosco, on behalf of Innocenzo da Imola,8 with the agreement perfectly fulﬁlled. Painting formed a part of life and could not be separated from its practical aspects. In short, one would have to explain how that swap could have occurred, if the San Biagio altarpiece could furnish unquestionable evidence of the style of Girolamo da Carpi; instead, we have been basing our
36 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
Fig. 1 Girolamo da Treviso the Younger, The Virgin and Child in Glory with Saints Petronius, Peter, Paul and Filippo Benizzi, formerly Dresden, Gemäldegalerie, destroyed in 1945
9 Longhi, 1968, cited in note 6, p. 163. 10 M. Lucco, ‘Di mano del mio Travisio, pittore certo valente e celebre’, in Sabba da Castiglione, 1480-1554. Dalle corti rinascimentali alla Commenda di Faenza (symposium papers, Faenza, 19-20 May 2000), ed. by A. R. Gentilini, Florence 2004, pp. 357-378, especially note 4, pp. 358-359; and passim, pp. 359-362. 11 Beyond accepting many attributions to Girolamo da Carpi proposed by others, Longhi (cited in note 6, pp. 167168) suggested, though with some doubt (“I can only suspect, not demonstrate, that this brilliant foreshadowing of Ottocento painting may have been the work of the accomplished Carpi”), that he was the author of the Ruggero Saving Angelica in the Kress Collection of the El Paso Museum of Art, Texas; this has never really been accepted, and scholars have left it suspended in a limbo of incredulity. The other ideas in the Nuovi Ampliamenti (1940-1955), loc. cit. in note 6, pp. 191-192, are all rejected, for example by A. Mezzetti, Girolamo da Ferrara detto da Carpi, Milan 1977, pp. 92, 97, 104. Furthermore, Longhi proposed that Girolamo da Carpi was responsible for the execution of the young Baptist in Costabili altarpiece (Ofﬁcina, cit. in note 6, 1934, p. 109, note 158): this hypothesis has vanished in the recent literature on the work. For the confusion with Girolamo da Treviso the Younger, which had been in Longhi’s mind until 1934, see the text cited in the preceding note. 12 Longhi, 1968, cited in note 6, pp. 165, 166. 13 Mezzetti, 1977, cited in note 11, pp. 16-17, 70; V. Romani, ‘La pittura a Ferrara negli anni del ducato di Alfonso I. Cataloghi’, in A. Ballarin, Dosso Dossi. La pittura a Ferrara negli anni del ducato di Alfonso I, Cittadella 1994-1995, vol. I, p. 377, no. 514. 14 The idea of a journey to Rome in 1525 was ﬁrst put forward by F. Bologna, ‘Il soggiorno napoletano di Girolamo da Cotignola con altre considerazioni sulla pittura emiliana del Cinquecento’, in Studi di Storia dell’Arte in onore di Valerio Mariani, Naples 1971,
Fig. 2 Girolamo da Carpi, The Apparition of the Virgin to Giulia Muzzarelli, Washington, National Gallery of Art
pp. 151, 152, 161 note 25, and was accepted by Mezzetti, cited in note 11, p. 11; by A. M. Fioravanti Baraldi, ‘Girolamo Sellari detto da Carpi (Ferrara, 1501 ca.Ferrara, 1556 ca.)’, in V. Fortunati Pietrantonio, Pittura bolognese del ’500, Casalecchio di Reno 1986, vol. I, p. 210; and more recently by A. Pattanaro, ‘La vocazione raffaellesca di Girolamo da Carpi e il confronto con Giulio Romano’, Nuovi Studi 7, 1999, pp. 77-104, especially p. 82. According to this last scholar, “from the sequence of images offered by Ballarin [as cited in note 13: vol. II, p. 92] one can sense a context no different from that proposed by Longhi and Bologna”. The idea of a Roman sojourn in 1523 is also accepted by M. Faietti, in Il Cinquecento a Bologna. Disegni dal Louvre e dipinti a confronto, ed. by M. Faietti with the collaboration of D. Cordellier, Milan 2002, p. 188. 15 G. Vasari, Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori ed architettori, Florence 1568, ed. by G. Milanesi, 1878-1885, vol. VI, p. 472: “E tutti questi particolari seppi io dallo stesso Girolamo, che fu molto mio amico, l’anno 1550, in Roma”; Vasari, The Lives, translated by G. du C de Vere, New York 1996, vol. II, p. 453: “And all these particulars heard from Girolamo da Carpi, who was very much my friend, at Rome in the year 1550”. 16 Vasari- Milanesi, op. cit., pp. 470-472; Vasari 1996, pp. 452-453.
judgement on non-decisive similarities, and on Longhi’s elegant ex absurdo demonstration (“a mind with that orientation could never enter into the Classical spirit”),9 rather than on clearly understandable proof. Nor should we dwell here on how the image Longhi had of these homonymous painters was singularly blurry, not only for Girolamo da Treviso, as I have already had occasion to demonstrate,10 but for Girolamo da Carpi; none of his proposals of 1940 and 1955 has stood the test of time, not to mention the fact that in 1934 the latter painter was totally confused with the former.11 Is it possible, then, that Longhi was only right about the San Biagio altarpiece (Fig. 1), and nothing else? That he was asserting instead (if we read between the lines) that once the work had been completed according to schedule by May 1524 or immediately thereafter, “it should be considered the ﬁrst public work [by Girolamo da Carpi]”? – almost as if he were being cautious, inserting a small passage of time between them, with respect to the stylistic difference between it and both the Adoration of the Magi in San Martino (tied, for him, to 1530) and the Muzzarelli Altarpiece in Washington (datable to about 1528, in his opinion) (Fig. 2).12 Among the more recent longhiani, starting with Amalia Mezzetti,13 there appears to have taken root the idea that the work dates from after a putative Roman sojourn of 1525, so in 1526, or even 1527; in this case the dense, smoky atmosphere of the painting would be even harder to reconcile with the intact, enamelled smoothness of surface of the Muzzarelli Altarpiece, which should be from only one year later. Obviously I leave the solution of having to make such different things coexist to whoever creates such a problem; I would just say that in this context, adopting Longhi’s opinion as the most secure keystone of all Bolognese painting of the early Cinquecento would be a genuine hazard. Having removed this obstacle, and that of the supposed journey to Rome in 1524-1525 – essentially based on the inscription “G. da Carpi f. 1525” on a drawing in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, which reproduces the lower right part of Raphael’s Disputa in the Vatican Stanze (neither the drawing nor the inscription are entirely consistent with the artist’s hand)14 – Girolamo’s career follows a more precise path, within the guidelines established by what he himself recounted to his biographer friend in Rome in 1550.15 It is from this that we learn that being tired of the commonplace work forced upon him by his father Tommaso, he left for Bologna after 1520 (but we do not know how long after). There, having seen Correggio’s Noli me tangere which was then in the Ercolani residence (now in the Prado), he found that manner of painting so appealing that he went to Modena and copied the Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine, with Saint Sebastian, now in the Louvre, painted for Francesco Grillenzoni, and the two other Modena altarpieces, now both in Dresden. He then moved on to Parma to study the frescoes in the two church domes, and the altarpieces in Santo Spirito; and he then ﬁnally returned to Bologna.16 In that city, in August 1525 and together with Biagio Pupini and Girolamo
37 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
17 M. Lucco, ‘I due Girolami’, in Scritti di storia dell’arte in onore di Jürgen Winkelmann, Naples 1999, p. 167. 18 The documentation regarding San Michele in Bosco was ﬁrst correctly interpreted by A. Mezzetti, 1977, cited in note 11, pp. 10, 42, note 24, 53; our artist’s name had previously been read by G. Zucchini, ‘San Michele in Bosco di Bologna’, L’Archiginnasio, XXXVIII, 1943, pp. 38-41, as “Girolamo da Ravenna”, a non-existent painter. For the documents relating to San Francesco in Ferrara, see Mezzetti, op. cit., p. 53. 19 D. Ekserdjian, Correggio, New Haven and London, 1997, p. 184. 20 Lucco, 1999, cited in note 17, pp. 165-183, especially pp. 169170, for further details. The work’s attribution to Dosso was already present in the 1632 inventory of the collection of Roberto Canonici in Ferrara: see Romani, 1994-1995, cited in note 13, vol. I, p. 306. For the documents of 1520 recording Girolamo in Garofalo’s workshop, see Mezzetti, 1977, cited in note 11, p. 52. 21 For the painting in Bergamo, see M. Danieli, in Garofalo. Pittore della Ferrara Estense, ed. by T. Kustodieva and Mauro Lucco, with the collaboration of M. Danieli, Milan 2008, p. 152. On the relation to the Pala Suxena, see the literature cited here. For the altarpiece in the Galleria Estense in Modena, see Romani, 1994-1995, cited in note 13, pp. 314-315 (there dated to c. 1519), and P. Humfrey, ‘Dosso Dossi et la peinture de retables’, Revue de l’Art, 119/1998-I, pp. 9-20, especially pp. 13-14 (dated to 1517/1518). 22 M. Lucco, 2004, cited in note 10, p. 366, and then in Garofalo, cited in note 21, pp. 182-183. For the attribution to Dosso, see Romani, 1994-1995, cited in note 13, p. 306. 23 For the altarpiece in Modena Cathedral, see Romani, 19941995, cited in note 13, pp. 332-333. 24 M. Lucco, ‘Portraits’, in P. Humfrey and M. Lucco, Dosso Dossi. Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara, New York 1998, pp. 239-243, and then in ‘I due Girolami’ cited in note 17, p. 169.
Borghese, he received the commission to decorate the sacristy of San Michele in Bosco with frescoes. It is hardly fortuitous that a document of 1751 recalling those works and establishing the artists’ respective responsibilities, refers to him as “Girolamo da Carpi, detto da Modona”; but a posteriori, this does not necessarily mean, as I once thought,17 that the Bolognese frescoes were painted after his various journeyings through Emilia. What is certain is that only he reappears in Ferrara on 6 August 1530, when he was paid for the ﬁgures frescoed in the church of San Francesco.18 Today I am more inclined to believe that his work for San Michele in Bosco represents the initial phase of his wanderings, especially since Correggio’s Modenese altarpieces, securely datable to before 1530 (the date on Girolamo Comi’s copy of the Madonna of Saint George in the York Art Gallery),19 should more properly be dated to the second half of the 1520s. Girolamo’s stylistic evolution can be said to begin around 1520 (when he was still enrolled in Garofalo’s workshop) with the small canvas in the Picture Gallery in Budrio, a work generally ascribed to Dosso (Fig. 3);20 the ﬁgure of Saint Sebastian is very clearly conceptually indebted to that of his master in the Costabili Altarpiece, a documented work of 1513-14, and in the small panel in the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo (inv. 710) by the Garofalo workshop, while the Virgin in the clouds recalls not only Garofalo’s ﬁgure in the Pala Suxena (the celebrated altarpiece of 1514) but even more closely the one by Dosso in the Virgin and Child with Saints George and Michael of about 1517/1518, formerly in Sant’Agostino in Modena and now in the Galleria Estense there.21 However, the Budrio picture leans less towards Garofalo than to the world of Dosso’s forms, and the landscape speaks an entirely different language from that of his older teacher; moreover, the sky lit by an incredible aurora borealis, with the harmony between pink and grey of the kind one sees most frequently in the work of Girolamo da Carpi. A few years later, in the little altarpiece formerly in the church of San Martino in Codigoro, now in the Ufﬁzi (Fig. 4) – which, as I have argued on another occasion, appears to be by our artist (though almost everyone believes it is by Dosso)22 – the stylistic preferences seems to be increasingly Dossoesque, notwithstanding its distance from the forms of the Ferrarese master: more simpliﬁed, more impenetrable and polished, ﬁrmer in bone structure, and with little of his luminous vibrancy. It is almost as if that world were already beginning to crack under the pressure of an attitude more coldly intellectual than joyously emotional. The echo of models by Dosso (the great luminous disc that offsets the Virgin, as in the Saint Sebastian altarpiece in Modena Cathedral, completed in May 1521, and the starched billowing of her cloak)23 would suggest a date around 1522/1523. The strong penchant for meteorological fantasy, expressed through pregnant, humid colours, can also be felt in the beautiful Portrait of a Soldier in the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts,24 (Fig. 5) in which the chromatic brilliance and twilit atmosphere, moulded out of moisture and an incipiently nocturnal moment, seems to suggest an initial awareness of Correggio’s very recent Noli me tangere in the Ercolani residence. The dense, vibrant corporeal presence of the
38 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
Fig. 3 Girolamo da Carpi, The Virgin and Child in Glory between Saints Roch and Sebastian, Budrio, Pinacoteca Comunale “Inzaghi” Fig. 4 Girolamo da Carpi, The Virgin and Child in Glory between Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist (Codigoro Altarpiece), Florence, Ufﬁzi
Fig. 7 Girolamo da Carpi, The Virgin and Child in Glory and Saints Monica and Francis, with members of the Parati family, Bologna, church of the Misericordia
25 Kupferstichkabinett, inv. 15281. See T. Henry and P. Joannides, Raphaël. Les dernières années, Paris 2012, pp. 129-134, especially pp. 132, 134. 26 Lucco, 1999, cited in note 17, pp. 165-183.
soldier in Cambridge, datable to somewhere between 1523 and 1525, cannot help but remind us, even more, of how different the San Biagio altarpiece is. However, that painting was soon to appear on Girolamo da Carpi’s intellectual horizon, together with all the seductive qualities of Raphael, as the artist himself told Vasari. The location, function, conditions of patronage and collaborative execution – not to mention the technical limitations – of the frescoes painted in 1525 with Biagio Pupini in San Michele in Bosco in Bologna, all combined to mute the disproportionate elements of colour and style and direct him towards a transformation of the more Classicizing elements of that work. Without conceding on questions of colour and naturalism, volumes are adjusted and now exist within more solid, shiny and vaguely abstracted surfaces. I don’t believe there can be any doubt that the ﬁgures of Saint Augustine, Saint Petronius and Saint Gregory the Great on the wall of the sacristy recall the saints in the San Biagio altarpiece, from only one year before; unless we say that the Baptist, or the Saint Michael (derived almost entirely from the
Fig. 5 Girolamo da Carpi, Portrait of a Soldier, Cambridge (Mass.), Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University
drawing attributed to Gian Francesco Penni in the National Gallery, Oslo)25 (Fig. 6) still have echoes of models by Garofalo and Dosso. The face of the Saint Michael, distancing itself from a Raphaelesque ideals, and even in its much compromised state, again recalls that of the soldier in Cambridge; the Baptist’s cloak, ﬂuttering in the wind, anticipates that of the angel on the left in the Parati altarpiece in the church of the Misericordia (located at the end of the road that comes down from the hill of San Michele in Bosco), which I attributed to Girolamo da Carpi ﬁfteen years ago (Fig. 7).26 In this last painting, which I would now date a couple of years later with respect to what I originally suggested, the evolution is even more evident: large, solid ﬁgures, set against a moody, Dossoesque landscape, and bathed in a colour whose greater sobriety is punctuated by unprecedented changeant hues, more common in Florence and Rome than in any Emilian city. Here, the Saint Monica on the left of the composition, albeit slightly less Dossoesque, appears as the ideal sister of the soldier in the Cambridge picture (Figs. 8-9). It is precisely the Misericordia altarpiece to which our painting relates most closely in style: the face of the Virgin seems to me to be perfectly comparable with the corresponding ﬁgure seated in the clouds (Fig. 10), or with that of the angel on the left holding the crown over her head; the muscularity of the
Fig. 8 Girolamo da Carpi, The Virgin and Child in Glory and Saints Monica and Francis, with members of the Parati family, detail, Bologna, church of the Misericordia
41 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
Fig. 6 Girolamo da Carpi, Saint Michael the Archangel, detail, Bologna, San Michele in Bosco, sacristy
Fig. 9 Girolamo da Carpi, Portrait of a Soldier, detail, Cambridge (Mass.), Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Fig. 10 Girolamo da Carpi, The Virgin and Child in Glory and Saints Monica and Francis, with members of the Parati family, detail, Bologna, church of the Misericordia
Christ Child, like a baby pagan Hercules, is the same as in the altarpiece; the proﬁle of the young Baptist corresponds (though in the opposite direction) to that of the cherub in the clouds just to the left of Saint Francis (Fig. 11), as it does to the same ﬁgure in the curious painting in Glasgow (inv. 1587, Fig. 12), at once a Return from the Flight into Egypt, Sacra conversazione and Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine; and to the Christ Child in the Holy Family that was with Pietro Scarpa in Venice twenty years ago (Fig. 13).27 The lone tree in the
Fig. 11 Girolamo da Carpi, The Virgin and Child in Glory and Saints Monica and Francis, with members of the Parati family, detail, Bologna, church of the Misericordia Fig. 12 Girolamo da Carpi, The Holy Family in a Landscape, with Saint Catherine of Alexandria and the Young Saint John the Baptist, detail, Glasgow, Glasgow Museums Fig. 13 Girolamo da Carpi, The Holy Family in a Landscape, detail, formerly Venice, with Pietro Scarpa
27 P. Humfrey, Glasgow Museums. The Italian Paintings, Glasgow 2012, pp. 133-134; the painting with Pietro Scarpa was published by Ballarin, 1994-1995, cited in note 13, vol. II, ﬁg. 802; Romani, op. cit., vol. I, p. 377. 28 Henry and Joannides, 2012, cited in note 25, pp. 192-199. The scroll passed from one child to the other has been substituted in our picture by a small bird, which probably obliged the painter to alter the ﬁgure of the young Baptist and adop an idea derived with minimal variants from the same ﬁgure in Raphael’s Madonna del Divino Amore in Naples; offering the bird with the right arm would have largely impeded its visibility. With the appearance of our painting, the Giulio Romano-inspired context for Ferrarese painting from about 1530 onwards, sketched out by Pattanaro (‘La vocazione raffaellesca’, cited in note 14, pp. 82-89, in the wake of Ballarin, cited in note 13, vol. II, ﬁgs. 725806), would now appear to have its origins almost ﬁve years earlier. 29 M. Jaffé, Old Master Drawings from Chatsworth, London 1993, pp. 109-110.
landscape is the same as those in the altarpiece; and the sky, with its harmony of blue, grey and pink, resembles the one in the Scarpa picture. Needless to add that the composition of the Virgin and Child group, and (notwithstanding a slight variation) of the young Baptist, is derived almost literally from the socalled Madonna of the Rose in the Prado (inv. P. 302), one of Raphael’s later inventions, probably executed by Giulio Romano (Fig. 14). Or, even more easily, from the so-called Novar Madonna in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh (inv. NG 2398, Fig. 15), in this case completely the work of Giulio,28 who had already arrived at the Gonzaga court in 1524, in a territory that shared a border with the Este dominions: this was a place where dynastic relationships with Ferrara facilitated exchange of information. In fact this sort of Roman excess of muscularity of the Christ Child relates perfectly to Giulio’s taste. We should also connect with the Novar Madonna a drawing (Fig. 16) in pen and ink, wash and white highlights in the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth (inv. 906B), already recognized by Jaffé29 as a partial copy of the Madonna of the Rose; but the more interesting point is that this appears on the verso of a sheet whose recto bears a copy of a detail from the Arch of Constantine (Fig. 17), unanimously given to Biagio Pupini, who as we know was a professional collaborator and colleague of Girolamo da Carpi on several occasions. With respect to his customary graphic mode, however, the ﬁgures appear much ﬁrmer and more solid, prompting the question (comparing it with other sketches) of whether both sides of the sheet belong to Girolamo: on the recto, the angel ﬂying above the warriors closely resembles the one on the left in the Misericordia altarpiece. Thus the drawing, too, which may be seen as preparatory to painting, can help us more swiftly recognize Girolamo’s hand in our panel; and it conﬁrms that the awareness of a speciﬁc painting by Giulio
43 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
Fig. 14 Raphael (and Giulio Romano?), The Holy Family and the Young Saint John the Baptist (The Madonna of the Rose), Madrid, Prado Fig. 15 Giulio Romano, The Virgin and Child and the Young Saint John the Baptist (The Novar Madonna), Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery Fig. 16 Girolamo da Carpi (formerly attributed to Biagio Pupini), The Virgin and Child and the Young Saint John the Baptist, Chatsworth, Devonshire Collection Fig. 17 Girolamo da Carpi (formerly attributed to Biagio Pupini), Group of Roman Soldiers, Chatsworth, Devonshire Collection
Fig. 18 Parmigianino, Portrait of Count Galeazzo Sanvitale, detail, Naples, Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte
30 M. Vaccaro, Parmigianino. I dipinti, Turin, London, Venice and New York, 2002, pp. 194-196; D. Ekserdjian, Parmigianino, New Haven and London, 2006, pp. 126-129. The back of the painting bears the probably contemporary inscription “Opus de Mazolla 1524”. 31 D. Ekserdjian, ‘Parmigianino’s “Madonna of Saint Margaret”’, The Burlington Magazine, CXXV, 1983, pp. 542-546; F. Caprara, ‘“De uno monasterio de monache lascivo riformato al ben vivere per el Rosario”. Alfonso Lombardi e Parmigianino in Santa Margherita’, in Vita artistica nel monastero femminile. Exempla, ed. by V. Fortunati, Bologna 2002, appendix, pp. 153-156. 32 Obviously paintings can also be shipped from one city to another, but the context provided by Vasari (cited in note 15, p. 474; Vasari 1996, p. 454) regarding the break-up with Pupini, followed by the return to Ferrara, very clearly indicates a work entirely executed in Bologna. 33 Mezzetti, 1977, cited in note 11, p. 65. 34 Although on another occasion (‘I due Girolami’, cited in note 17, p. 171) I accepted Longhi’s idea (‘Ampliamenti’, cited in note 6, p. 166), it now seems that with the appearance of the picture discussed here, and the consequent revision of the chronology of his entire early phase, we must move certain works forward – not only the Muzzarelli Altarpiece, but other paintings believed to be of the same period. I trust one does not need to demonstrate, for example, the absolute stylistic incompatibility of our panel (which because of its derivation from both Raphael and Giulio Romano, and Parmigianino, can only be from about 1525 at the earliest) with the lost Adoration of the Magi (documented through a copy in the Galleria Estense in Modena) believed to be from that period (see Faietti, 2002, cited in note 14, p. 189, and A. Pattanaro, 1999, therein, p. 192). It seems to me impossible to consider the
Fig. 19 Girolamo da Carpi, Saint Ursula, Ferrara, San Francesco Fig. 20 Parmigianino, The Virgin and Child and Saints Benedict, Margaret, Jerome and an Angel, detail, Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale
Romano must have happened some time after 1525, when he may have been already on the move between Modena and Parma. I insist on Parma because it is very clear that the frontal ﬁgure of the Saint Francis in our painting, with a forked beard, is a clear recollection, almost a citation, of the Portrait of Count Galeazzo Sanvitale (Fig. 18) now in the Capodimonte Museum in Naples – one of the prominent citizens of Parma, portrayed by the young Parmigianino, certainly before his departure for Rome in 1524.30 Girolamo da Carpi could only have known this picture in Parma. The surviving ﬁgures of the decoration of San Francesco in Ferrara, paid on 6 August 1530, are, as is well known, literal copies of the altarpiece painted by Parmigianino for the church of Santa Margherita in Bologna, for the Benedictine nuns: the ﬁgure of Saint Catherine after the Virgin and Saint Ursula after Saint Margaret (Figs. 19-20). This also furnishes indirect proof of the date of Girolamo’s return home: the Bolognese altarpiece was in fact ﬁnished in August 1529,31 while the decoration of San Francesco, originally much more substantial, must for technical reasons have been carried out during the Spring of 1530. Bearing in mind the time Girolamo needed to become acquainted with Parmigianino’s painting, and rethink it, we are looking at a window between September 1529 and February or March 1530. By this I’m not claiming that Girolamo’s awareness of Parmigianino took concrete form so late in the day; but a little distance is required for reaching the altarpiece with the Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine, with two Saints in San Salvatore, Bologna (Fig. 21, necessarily completed before 1529, and which Vasari states was the ﬁrst work he painted after ending the partnership with Pupini),32 and from there to
Fig. 21 Girolamo da Carpi, The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine with Saints Sebastian and Roch, Bologna, San Salvatore Fig. 22 Girolamo da Carpi, Adoration of the Magi, Bologna, San Martino ﬂuttering edge of the tunic of the Magus on the right, in the Modena copy, without a profound knowledge of Giulio Romano in Mantua. But to
the Adoration of the Magi in San Martino in Bologna (Fig. 22), whose wooden frame bears the date it was completed, 1532.33 What this does, I now believe, is to shift the Muzzarelli Altarpiece in Washington slightly forward, to the mid1530s (Fig. 2).34 But Girolamo da Carpi’s style was already highly recognizable
44 Girolamo Sellari, called Girolamo da Carpi
return to the Muzzarelli Altarpiece, the opinion of C. Turrill, ‘Girolamo da Carpi’s Muzzarelli altarpiece’, in Studies in the History of Art XXIV, 1990, pp. 75-86, which leans towards a date around 1554, has been discussed in depth by A. Pattanaro (1999, cited in note 14, pp. 77-80), who sees it as from before 1531, and probably about 1528, based on the consideration that “whoever dates the painting to the 1530s not only leaves unanswered the question of Parmigianino’s inﬂuence […] but fails to take account of Girolamo’s growing interest in the formal inventions developed by Giulio Romano for the Gonzaga in Mantua”. Such
unwavering and schematic ideology leads her back to the old notion, rejected by Mezzetti, 1977, cited in note 11, pp. 67-68, that the San Salvatore altarpiece follows the one in San Martino, while to my eye it seems fairly clear that the latter work is the more mature one. As I hope has been clear from this brief excursus, stylistic inﬂuence is not an item of clothing that once worn cannot be removed, or conﬂict with others; nothing stops us from accepting external inspiration at any given moment, or of being at once “Parmigianinesque” and “Giulioesque”.
45 4 5
in the San Salvatore altarpiece, and its essential traits were not to undergo any substantial change in the years that followed. It is rather the preceding period, so fragmented and full of gaps, that interests us most, as it provides a dating for the painting before us, and it is this period we have brieﬂy sought to elucidate. Mauro Lucco
Innocenzo Francucci, called Innocenzo da Imola Imola, c. 1487 - Bologna, 1543?
Concrete information regarding the life of Innocenzo da Imola is practically unknown. There are no documents relating to the dates of either his birth or death, for which we must depend on what can be deduced from Vasari, who says (initially in the ﬁrst edition of the Lives, in 1550) that Innocenzo died of “pestilential fever” at the age of 56. It has thus been proposed, based on that date of publication, that he was born in 1494; or in 1490, compensating for the gap between the sojourn of the Aretine painter-writer’s in Emilia, which lasted until 1546, and the actual publication in 1550; or again, 1487/1488, with reference to the concluding words of the multi-artist biography in which Innocenzo appears: “the works of all the above-named painters date from 1506 to 1542”. I think that the last of these dates offers the best hypothesis, bearing in mind that his last dated work is from 1543, and also because what is likely to be the ﬁrst document that regards him is a supplication by his father Pietro to the Comunità (civic authorities) of Imola, dated 13 March 1506, for assistance in favour of his son, “Bononie artem picture discentem, ita prout cepi posse evadere clarum et valentem pictorem”. This promising statement seems to imply that he was beyond the novice stage, and that parental hopes had begun to be anchored, with proof of his skill already established – as beﬁts a nineteen-year-old, rather than a boy of seventeen, or even thirteen. Indeed it seems hard to suppose that the Comunità would have approved the subsidy without some such proof. But some doubt exists: in his positive response, authorizing ten corbe (baskets) of wheat, the city secretary refers to the grant as “pro alimentazione Octaviani eius ﬁlii artem picture discentis Bononie”, yet no Ottaviano has ever been documented in the painter’s family. Unless this refers to another unrecorded son, we cannot help but treat this as a memory lapse on the part of the ofﬁcial. As to whether Innocenzo joined the Bolognese workshop of Francesco Francia on 7 May 1508, this is probably no more than one of the many tales spun by Malvasia in the 1600s: not the slightest trace of Francia’s language, which was already becoming enfeebled by then, is visible in our painting. According to Vasari, Innocenzo da Imola “was for many years in Florence with Mariotto Albertinelli; and then, having returned to Imola, he executed many works in that place”. Since nothing precise is known about him after 1506, and his ﬁrst signed and dated works, such as the altarpieces for Bagnara (1515) and Casola Valsenio (1516), are for locations in the environs of his native city, it is likely that Vasari’s statement is quite correct. A panel in the Picture Gallery in Imola with the Virgin and Child between Saints Cassian and Peter Chrysologus should probably be dated before these two; according to nineteenth-century tradition it was given by the artist to Imola as thanks for the support the city had earlier given him. It depends most strongly on Albertinelli and other artists associated with him, such as Antonio del Ceraiolo, and contains extraordinarily eloquent support for the Florentine connection in the ﬁgure of Adam in the ﬁctive relief below the Virgin’s throne – a replica of the great David by Michelangelo, which stood in front of the Palazzo della Signoria at that time. Innocenzo is once again documented in Imola on 12 August 1517, settling a debt; but as Vasari writes, he was persuaded by Count Giovanni Battista Bentivoglio – the ﬁrst and most ardent supporter in Bologna of a Raphael-inspired classicism – to move to the
46 Innocenzo Francucci, called Innocenzo da Imola
Emilian metropolis, where in December of that year, perhaps after a brief visit to Rome, he signed an agreement with the prior of the Olivetan Order of San Michele in Bosco, Barnaba Cevenini, for a series of paintings in fresco and on panel for that monastery, a project that kept him busy until 1522. From that moment on, there are no substantial biographical records of our artist, who was in Vasari’s words “a very good and modest person”, and absolutely reserved; certainly his life must have carried on with a tranquil daily routine. All we know, from a contract for the dowry of his niece Giovanna drawn up in 1537, is that Innocenzo lived not far from the church of the Servites, where one of his ﬁnest paintings, the Annunciation, still stands. On the other hand, there are dated works, sufﬁciently distributed through time to enable us to follow the evolution, albeit a very gradual one, of his career: the date 1527 appears (though the work was completed a few years later) on the altarpiece for the church of San Francesco in Faenza, now in the Picture Gallery in Forlì; the altarpiece in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg is dated 1532; the decoration of Minoccia Scardova’s chapel in San Giacomo in Bologna dates from 1536; and the Cruciﬁed Christ and Saints in San Salvatore, Bologna bears the date 1539. After 1541, when the Palazzina della Viola was acquired by the Cardinal of Ivrea, Innocenzo frescoed ﬁve grand scenes (recorded by Vasari) which must have been ﬁnished before the prelate was removed from his ofﬁce as Pontiﬁcal Legate in 1542. In conclusion, the tired and slightly stereotyped Portrait of a Woman as Saint Mary Magdalen in the Pinacoteca Estense, Modena, is dated 1543. We cannot tell which painting, scarcely begun when the artist died, might have been the one that was brought to completion, following his express wishes (again according to Vasari), by Prospero Fontana – a painter who, contrary to what is very often said about him, was never his pupil.
47 Innocenzo Francucci, called Innocenzo da Imola
Portrait of a Man in a Fur-lined Coat c. 1536 Innocenzo Francucci, called Innocenzo da Imola
Oil on wood panel, 40.2 x 29.8 cm, 15.8 x 11.7 in
48 Innocenzo Francucci, called Innocenzo da Imola
LITERATURE A. M. Pedrocchi, Le Stanze del Tesoriere. La Quadreria Patrizi: cultura senese nella storia del collezionismo romano del Seicento, Milan 2000, pp. 161-162, no. 60
1 A. M. Pedrocchi, Le stanze del Tesoriere. La Quadreria Patrizi: cultura senese nella storia del collezionismo romano del Seicento, Milan 2000, pp. 161-162. 2 M. Minozzi, “Gli inventari della collezione Patrizi”, in Pedrocchi, 2000, cited in note 1, pp. 388, 394, 397. 3 Pedrocchi, 2000, cited in note 1, p. 161. 4 A. Pattanaro, Girolamo da Carpi. Ritratti, Cittadella (Padova) 2000, pp. 143-144, 145-146, ﬁgs. 33 and 31, respectively.
We cannot with certainty identify this beautiful portrait among the multiple inventories of the Patrizi collection; Anna Maria Pedrocchi’s hypothesis,1 that it is “un altro quadretto d’un ritratto in tavola, mano del Dossi con cornice tutta dorata scudi cinquanta” cited in a listing of 1624, and again inventoried in 1654 and 1689,2 is certainly a possible one, but it cannot be taken for granted. Without claiming to interpret her reasoning, I would say that the reference to Dosso could certainly justify the perception of an Emilian air here, potently enhanced by the copper resinate green background made popular by Parmigianino, and later by Prospero Fontana in Bologna; she also found support in what she perceived as a Venetian-Ferrarese idiom (far less present, to my eye), “noticeable in the attention to realistic detail, and somewhat redolent of Dosso and Correggio”. All this would associate the picture with “Girolamo da Carpi’s portraiture, which was particularly marked by his encounter with Parmigianino after 1527”;3 and this is why Pedrocchi conﬁdently attributed it to Girolamo, dating it to between 1530 and 1535. But since I believe that there is an evident and radical stylistic difference between our picture and Girolamo’s contemporaneous works, such as the Portrait of Cardinal Ippolito de’ Medici and Monsignor Mario Bracci in the National Gallery, London (Fig. 1), or the Girolamo de Vincenti in Naples,4 dated 1535, the attribution seems impossible. Nor – beyond the green background – can I see any imprint of Parmigianino, or of Correggio or Dosso, for that matter. Rather, I would say that if it were not for the small trace of unclassicizing eccentricity of the hand holding the fur collar, but with the little ﬁnger extended, and the green background (both rooted in Bolognese tradition), our portrait might be considered totally Florentine – the work of a painter strongly inﬂuenced by Mariotto Albertinelli and Fra Bartolomeo, by Bugiardini, Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio and early Franciabigio, around the year 1510; and that he might be someone who had looked above all, in the solid, elemental posing of the ﬁgure, at the early period of Raphael – that is, at what was going on in Florence. Bologna and Florence should not be read as two contrasting artistic realities. I believe that it is now accepted that the focus of Francesco Francia’s interests, in his early phase, was Florentine culture, and that there were many artists accustomed to crossing the Apennines, usually in a northbound direction, for brief sojourns or even to settle in Emilia or Romagna: among the most salient instances are Biagio d’Antonio in Faenza, and altarpieces from Florence such as those sent by Domenico Ghirlandaio to Rimini, Filippino Lippi’s to San Domenico in Bologna, Raffaello Botticini’s to Santa Maria in Regola in Imola, or Giuliano Bugiardini’s to San Francesco and Santo Stefano in Bologna, as well as Peruzzi’s later sojourn in Bologna.5 The artistic permeability between the two cities, without any concession to local identity, was high, and this
49 Innocenzo Francucci, called Innocenzo da Imola
Fig. 1 Girolamo da Carpi, Portrait of Cardinal Ippolito de’ Medici and Monsignor Mario Bracci, London, National Gallery
5 For a good summary of this question see R. Bartoli, ‘Itinerario transappenninico. Rapporti tra Firenze e l’Emilia Romagna alla ﬁne del Quattrocento e nei primi anni del Cinquecento’, in G. Agostini and C. Pedrini, eds., Innocenzo da Imola. Il tirocinio di un artista, Casalecchio di Reno, 1993, pp. 91-99. 6 G. Agostini and C. Pedrini, ‘“Decus Civitatis Imolae”. La formazione di Innocenzo attraverso i documenti’, in Innocenzo da Imola, 1993, cited in note 5, pp. 31-42, and especially pp. 38-39. 7 See the entry on Girolamo da Carpi in this catalogue. 8 R. Longhi, Ampliamenti nell’Ofﬁcina Ferrarese (1940), in Edizione delle Opere Complete di Roberto Longhi. V. Ofﬁcina Ferrarese, Florence 1968, p. 161. 9 Longhi, 1968, cited in note 8, p. 161. 10 G. Vasari, Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori ed architettori, Florence 1568, ed. G. Milanesi, 1878-1885, vol. V, pp. 197-188; Vasari, The Lives, English translation by G. du C. de Vere, New York 1996, vol. I, p. 917.
applied not only to painters but strongly motivated patrons. As far as I know, little has been done as regards research on Count Giovanni Battista Bentivoglio, who seems to me to be the ﬁrst and most authoritative Bolognese partisan of Raphael’s painting, ever ready and zealous, with appropriate guarantees, in advising (if not strictly imposing) public patronage of artists of that ilk, and consequently creating what was almost a monopoly of taste. He was the one who invited Innocenzo da Imola to come to Bologna, and provided the guarantee to the Prior of San Michele in Bosco for the numerous works the painter was to undertake for the convent;6 he was the one who summoned Baldassarre Peruzzi; and his, too, was the act of persuading and subsequently offering a guarantee to the ofﬁcers of the Ospedale di San Biagio, for the altarpiece by Girolamo da Treviso the Younger,7 destroyed in Berlin in 1945 – to name but the most clearly documented instances. Bolognese painters who could be called raffaelleschi, often lumped together as if they were all equals, and without a sense of relative importance, were more than one in number; and we have already named Innocenzo da Imola. In his frescoes for San Michele in Bosco, painted roughly between 1518 and 1520, he offered proof “of a certain Tuscan cleanliness, of precise but deeply-felt physiognomies that still helped him keep his balance in his portraits of the Olivetans”8 – qualities which formed the most vivid part of the project for Roberto Longhi, who never had a soft spot for painters of that manner.9 This was the fruit of a calling for portraiture explicitly mentioned by Vasari: “He made a portrait, also, besides many others, of Cardinal Francesco Alidosio, which I have seen at Imola, together with the portrait of Cardinal Bernardino Carniale [sic, for Carvajal], and both are works of no little beauty”.10 Nothing survives of that talent today but the Portrait of a Woman in the Borghese Gallery, Rome (Fig. 2), and that of A Woman dressed as Mary Magdalen, dated 1543, in the Pinacoteca Estense, Modena (Fig. 3), both from Innocenzo’s last years. But the two lost portraits cited by Vasari, which were still in Imola in his day, must have belonged to the early years of his career: Alidosi, who was from the territory of Imola, had died on 24 May 1511, and Carvajal, who was never there, died in 1523. Portraiture, then, ﬂows like a leitmotiv through the artist’s entire career. Considering only the examples cited above, there is apparently not much solid
50 Innocenzo Francucci, called Innocenzo da Imola
Fig. 2 Innocenzo da Imola, Portrait of a Woman, Rome, Borghese Gallery Fig. 3 Innocenzo da Imola, Portrait of a Woman as Mary Magdalen, Modena, Galleria Estense
11 Longhi, 1968, cited in note 8, p. 161.
material on which to build a reasonable attribution; yet Innocenzo’s vocation for portrait-painting never failed, not even in his religious pictures, whether public or private, if we reﬂect on the fact that his saints’ features are so intensely scrutinized that they must be nonconventional. We are therefore looking at something more than just “ﬁgures bursting with soulless health, like bunches of red carrots draped in yards of billiardtable green”,11 but living people such as the Saint Cosmas in the Bagnara altarpiece (Fig. 4), the Saint Petronius in Munich, together with the donor Jacopo Samperi, the almost impudent Saint Sebastian in the Forlì altarpiece, the Baptist and Evangelist in San Giacomo in Bologna, and the true likenesses of the donor and his wife, unfortunately unidentiﬁed, in the panel in the Picture Gallery in Bologna. Even if these ﬁgures are not easily comparable with our anonymous individual – their heads at another angle, or clean-shaven, or with an entirely different hairstyle, and overlooking the obvious fact that we all have two eyes, a nose and
51 Innocenzo Francucci, called Innocenzo da Imola
Fig. 4 Innocenzo da Imola, The Virgin and Child between Saints Sebastian, Cosmas, Damian and Roch, detail, Bagnara, Chiesa arcipretale dei santi Giovanni Battista e Andrea
12 L. Pagnotta, Bugiardini, Turin 1987, pp. 59-63. 13 Longhi, 1968, cited in note 8, p. 161. 14 D. Ferriani, ‘Innocenzo Francucci detto da Imola (Imola, 1490 ca.- Bologna, 1545 ca.)’, in V. Fortunati Pietrantonio, Pittura bolognese del ’500, Casalecchio di Reno, 1986, vol. I, pp. 59-94. 15 Longhi, 1968, cited in note 8, p. 161. 16 The terms are those used by Longhi, 1968, cited in note 8, p. 161.
a mouth (which tends to make us see faces as all the same, like cats, who are all grey at night) – he does closely resemble the Saint John the Evangelist in the Scardova altarpiece in San Giacomo Maggiore, Bologna (eighth chapel on the right, coming from the main entrance, Fig. 5), and above all the Saint Michael the Archangel (clearly identiﬁable by his sword and cuirass) frescoed in a roundel on the outside of the chapel (Fig. 6). In other words, our portrait would have been painted around 1536, the date inscribed on the altarpiece, a period entirely consistent with the fashion of the clothes he wears: a shirt in the German style, a doublet almost completely fastened at the neck and a coat with a fur lining, de rigueur throughout northern Italy since about the mid-1520s. A suitable point of comparison is offered by Lorenzo Lotto’s Portrait of Andrea Odoni at Hampton Court, dated 1527, where the ﬁgure is dressed almost identically. However, if those pale, cordial eyes and the keenness of his gaze paint a psychological portrait of a man who relates to the world in an untroubled way, the period around 1536 would make such an image seem rather archaic, and still tied to Raphaelesque models of the ﬁrst decade of the century; not only for its small dimensions, which were by now generally abandoned in favour of much more ample pictorial ﬁelds, but also in the refusal to portray status, which had completely commanded the stage since the 1510s. Certainly not a poor man, our sitter exhibits neither his wealth nor himself, and stays within the limits of that correctness (even slightly purist in nature), based especially on Bugiardini and Ridolfo, which Innocenzo da Imola had learned during his years of training in Florence. Maybe the presence in Bologna of the former of these two painters in 1523-1525 acted as a catalyst.12 Naturally, I would not conceal that the attribution of our painting to Innocenzo might prompt many to experience a feeling of surprise, some perplexity or even straightforward denial. After all, given the endless number of small Holy Families or panels with the Madonna and saints that turn up in every other museum, and often, sprouting like mushrooms, on the art market – boring, repetitive, maudlin and onedimensionally sugary – the artist has by common consent ended up as the worst of the “raffaellisti”, worse still than “[Biagio] Pupini who can’t even manage to translate the translation”13 of the great Raphael. In reality, that is not his level, if one frees him from all the careless output we might call “industrial” that was entrusted to his workshop – indeed paintings that lack soul. This task has already been courageously taken on by Daniela Ferriani,14 who trimmed away the excessively unattractive from Innocenzo’s oeuvre, resulting in an immediate enhancement of its quality. Longhi had asserted that our artist, like others of “the generation of 1480-85 or so [were] born too soon, we may presume, to be able to develop a full comprehension of modern ideas”;15 but one cannot help when one is born. In the end the culture of Innocenzo is already progressive compared to the “proto-classical” one, even if it does not yet succeed in imbibing “classical” culture, or in comprehending Raphaelesque “composition”; but how he directs the depiction of space in the altarpieces, partly owing to a residual Quattrocento difﬁdence, is not mere “placement”, but in a certain sense calculated architectural design.16 In short, I believe that a little more scholarly energy and commitment are needed to return Innocenzo da Imola to the place he deserves in the history of Bolognese painting – a place that seems called for, vociferously, by the portrait before us, unquestionably one of the best things painted by this clean, intelligent artist from Imola. Mauro Lucco
53 Innocenzo Francucci, called Innocenzo da Imola
Fig. 5 Innocenzo da Imola, The Virgin and Child between Saints John the Baptist, Joseph, Catherine of Alexandria, Mary Magdalen and John the Evangelist, detail, Bologna, San Giacomo Maggiore Fig. 6 Innocenzo da Imola, Saint Michael the Archangel, Bologna, San Giacomo Maggiore
Jacopo Robusti, called Il Tintoretto Venice, 1519 - 1594
1 C. Ridolﬁ, Le Maraviglie dell’Arte, Venezia 1648, ed. by D. von Hadeln, Berlin 1924, vol. II, p. 14.
Born in 1519, Jacopo Robusti took the name by which he is universally known from the profession of his father Giovanni Battista, a dyer (tintore) of silk cloth; in Venice such activity was traditionally the domain of Lucchese immigrants, and it is likely that his family was originally from Lucca. The name in the diminutive (tintoretto) instead refers to the artist’s physique, described by Calmo in 1548 come “menùo de carne”, that is, rather small, and in fact he was not much more than ﬁve feet tall, or about one and a half metres. Compensating for this modest height, he had extraordinary willpower. The artist’s life was devoid of any sensational episodes, and he spent it entirely in Venice, ceaselessly studying and nourished by intense and almost incredibly long-lasting creative activity. At no more than nineteen years of age, in January 1538, he was already recorded as a painter, independently renting a house with a studio in the parish of San Geremia; in the following year he lived by himself in San Cassiano, and ﬁfteen years after that in San Marziale, before moving for good to a house near the Madonna dell’Orto in 1574. A painting formerly in a private collection in Lucerne with a depiction of the swearing-in of the Procurator De Ultra Girolamo Marcello on 18 June 1537 already demonstrates how he was active as painter at the age of eighteen. Seeking to make enough of a name for himself to live comfortably, and at a moment when Venice was caught up in the fascination with the Central Italian “maniera moderna” and its artists, many of whom were ﬂocking northwards, Tintoretto went to Padua in 1541 to work on the project for the Mantua-Benavides house, but we cannot tell what he might have painted there. In any event, this was one of only two sojourns away from Venice, the other being a journey to Mantua in 1580 to set up the cycle of pictures known as the Fasti Gonzagheschi. In 1550 he married Faustina Episcopi, daughter of the Dean (and later Guardian Grande) of the Scuola di San Rocco, and together they had eight children including Marietta, the artist’s favourite and herself a painter, and Domenico and Marco, who also followed in their father’s footsteps, with varying degrees of fortune. His commercial strategy of charging little and even making gifts of certain paintings drove him to work frenetically, and he also spent time studying a variety of sculptural models, and in particular miniature versions of Michelangelo’s Medici tombs in San Lorenzo, which, according to Ridolﬁ,1 he had specially delivered from Florence. It was with this background that he exploded onto the scene publicly in the early months of 1548 with the Miracle of Saint Mark, painted for the Scuola Grande di San Marco (Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia). In 1553, 1555 and 1562 he produced some large-scale paintings for the Sala del Maggior Consiglio and the Sala dello Scrutinio in the Doge’s Palace, but these all perished in the great ﬁre of 1577; in 1562 an important patron, Tommaso Rangone, was authorized by the Guardian Grande of the Scuola di San Marco to pay for the artist to paint three scenes from the life of the saint (the celebrated canvases now in the Accademia in Venice), a project completed in 1566. In that year he was also invited to join the Accademia del Disegno in Florence. Between 1562 and 1564 he painted the enormous canvases in the choir of the church of the Madonna dell’Orto. In 1565 he was welcomed – perhaps with the help of his father-in-law – as a lay brother in the confraternity of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco; and it was there, for many
54 Jacopo Robusti, called Il Tintoretto
years, until 1587, that he carried out his most important cycle of paintings, almost entirely ﬁlling the building designed by Scarpagnino with a spectacular sequence of masterpieces. In 1571 he was paid for work done in Saint Mark’s Library, probably for a commission of 1562; and in 1574, as one of the most important artists in the city, he took part together with Veronese in the scenic decoration made for the visit of the King of France Henri III to Venice. In about 1578-79 he painted the Gonzaga cycle (the so-called Fasti Gonzagheschi), now in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, travelling to Mantua to set it in place in 1580; in the meantime he continued to work not only for the churches of Venice but its most prestigious sites. In 1590 his daughter Marietta died prematurely, after which he was almost inconsolable. From about the mid-1580s he was assisted in his ever-increasing tasks by his son Domenico, who saw to it that his father’s style endured, though it was no longer the dominant one, until 1635. The last great project, apart from the gigantic canvas of the Paradiso in the Doge’s Palace, painted between 1588 and 1592, was the pair of large pictures for the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, painted between 1592 and May 1594; on the 31st of that month, he died aged a little over 75, and was buried in the church of the Madonna dell’Orto, which was almost a family church and contained several of his ﬁnest works.
The Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist c. 1547 Jacopo Robusti, called Il Tintoretto
Oil on wood panel, 46 x 69 cm, 18.1 x 27.1 in
LITERATURE R. Pallucchini and P. Rossi, Tintoretto. Le opere sacre e profane, Milan 1982, 1990 ed., I, p. 158
Painted on a wood panel measuring 6 mm (under a quarter of an inch) in thickness â€“ which to judge by the parallel grain at upper left would appear to be larchwood, attached in turn to a secondary support made of two planks of poplar â€“ this painting poses more questions than it can answer. If this were indeed larch, it might be easier to imagine, even if not conclusively so, that it functioned as part of an item of furniture, or something like a shutter; poplar would generally be used for an internal component, while larch could be a
56 Jacopo Robusti, called Il Tintoretto
1 A. Calmo, Lettere, ed. by V. Rossi, Turin 1888, pp. 132-133. Translating Calmo’s dialect into modern Italian, R. Pallucchini, in R. Pallucchini and P. Rossi, Tintoretto. Le opere sacre e profane, Milan 1982, 1990 ed., I, p. 40, and A. L. Lepschy, Tintoretto Observed. A Documentary Survey of Critical Reactions from the 16th to the 20th Century, Ravenna 1983, p. 18, interpreted “imbuoro” as “chiara d’uovo” (egg white); but both R. Echols, ‘The Decisive Years: 1547-1555’, in M. Falomir, ed., Tintoretto, Madrid 2007, pp. 215, 217 note 7 (referring to Barbaro), and M. Cortellazzo, Dizionario veneziano della lingua e della cultura popolare nel XVI secolo, Limena (Padua) 2007, p. 634 (the latter expressly citing this passage as an example), noted that the meaning of the term is “terra rossa per tingere” (red earth for dyeing) or Rubrica (perhaps an equivalent of bole), which makes the sixteenth-century writer’s words extraordinarily apposite to the factual reality of the painting, almost as if he had it in mind, and was describing it in some way.
valid choice for the outward, visible part of the item. However, the low, horizontal format is characteristic of a painting, and in this case this does not easily conform to a piece of furniture, or part of one. Another aspect leads us to regard it above all as a painting: its intimate character, so to speak, like something made by the artist for himself alone. This panel exhibits an experimental quality which is perhaps not obvious at ﬁrst sight, but which grows on one after proper contemplation: for example the ground is laid on in transparent red pigment, something usually applied in opaque colours; and even more evident, the contour lines of the Christ Child’s body, and the shadows deﬁning the eyes, nose and mouth of the Virgin, as well as her cheek, are painted in what appears to be a transparent lacca di brasilio (brazil lake), applied directly. As we know, this was generally not used alone, but in conjunction with an underlying red colour, to which it would give deﬁnition. Thus it may seem that Tintoretto was working in his studio with the ﬁrst colour that came to hand. Using only a little of that red, giallolino (or giallorino, lead tin yellow) and white lead, he succeeds in creating an image that was deeply felt, albeit with scarce attention to the perfect description of form. Rather, he evokes form, almost drawing it out from the haze of his fancy, in the way that a statue would emerge slowly and with great effort from the block of marble worked by his great idol Michelangelo. It is clear that this creative process corresponds perfectly with what was described by Andrea Calmo in 1548: “mo vu, che con un fregolin de sbiaca, e d’imbuoro incorporao, a ziogolando col penelo, fè una fegura retrata al natural in meza hora, che quanti calegheri, sartori e mureri se trova, in vinti anni non saverave a malestente destriar i colori”.1 In fact it seems evident from this passage that this sort of sketch was a fairly normal exercise for Tintoretto, though apparently no other example has survived; and it may be that the reddish pigment – more than the brazil lake alone, its unmistakable ruby hue visible in several places – is actually the mysterious “imbuoro”. Proving this in a deﬁnitive way would require extensive research on the types of pigments used in mid-sixteenth-century Venice. We have made mention of the perceived private nature of this work. Perhaps it was Tintoretto’s awareness that he would not necessarily have to create something for public consumption that allowed him to adopt a summary approach to form and treat heads and ﬁgures with shifts in dimension that eschew recognizable reality. It is as if the faces in our painting took on fantastic forms, as if space expanded or contracted at random, losing its normal calibration of distance. While the intellectual framework of the “maniera moderna”, which had just arrived from Tuscany, could allow this, the fact remains that the difference in scale between the Virgin’s head and that of Saint Joseph implies a much greater distance between them than is actually the case. In short, it is as if Tintoretto had created the panel for himself, but was entirely conscious that it might cross the gaze of some external beholder; and it is as if he were playing with the element of surprise in that marvelously ﬁnished detail of the head of Saint Joseph, described with such subtle brushwork. The context here would have been that of experimenting with a composition that grew by subtraction – almost a contradiction in terms. The black lines of a very summary drawing, sensed only transparently, seem to imply the presence of something architectural behind the Virgin, either a fence, or part of the hut of the Nativity; but in the stage reached in the painting, the focus is rather on the world of emotions, leaving aside any more precise deﬁnition of setting. In fact a sort of emotional meditation on old age, which crosses Tintoretto’s entire oeuvre, in contrast with his not quite Apollonian physique, appears here – in the “meza hora” mentioned by Calmo’s – with an extraordinarily skilful description of the head of Saint Joseph. There
57 Jacopo Robusti, called Il Tintoretto
can be nothing but admiration for such a true, vivid ﬁgure, given the speed of execution, and in an almost monochrome context; it is even moving in its directness, bent over in the daily fatigue of existence. Tintoretto is a genius when it comes to depicting the poor and disenfranchised, people who have been crushed by life with an almost unbearable weight. But here he also demonstrates his virtuosity in managing and composing contrasts: those imprecise contours which in the great canvases based itself above all on the rough, thick weave, so as to obtain the greatest pictorial impact, are here described along the perfectly smooth surface of the wood panel; and where this should favour a highly ﬁnished painting, we ﬁnd instead what may be the most summary sketches of his entire career. In technique, it is the very opposite of what would be dictated by common sense. First published by Pallucchini and Rossi,2 our little panel seemed anomalous and unusual to the eyes of the two scholars for its lack of ﬁnish, the implication being that it remained interrupted for some unveriﬁable reason. I believe that from its very inception it was never actually conceived as a picture that might be sold, and thus obliged to follow the dictates of normal decorum; that from the start it must have been a proving-ground for manual dexterity or the forceful talent for conveying emotions. In their opinion, “nello stesso schema compositivo, sembra ricalcare i moduli già esperiti in alcune delle primissime Sacre Conversazioni”; but one should note that neither the format, which is almost oblong, nor the composition, actually compare with these, even if we pass over the question intelligently raised by Robert Echols regarding the work of Tintoretto’s alter ego of sorts, Giovanni Galizzi.3 Indeed,
2 Pallucchini and Rossi, 1982 (1990), cited in note 1, I, p. 158; II, ﬁg. 181. 3 R. Echols, ‘Giovanni Galizzi and the problem of the young Tintoretto’, Artibus et Historiae 31, 1995, pp. 69-110. 4 For both these paintings, see Pallucchini and Rossi, 1982 (1990), cited in note 1, II, ﬁgs. 5 and 17, respectively; Echols, 1995, cited in note 3, pp. 89-91.
Fig. 1 Giovanni Galizzi, Sacra conversazione, detail, formerly Cremona, private collection Fig. 2 Giovanni Galizzi, The Presentation in the Temple, detail, Verona, Museo di Castelvecchio
Fig. 3 Tintoretto, Saint Martial in Glory, with Saints Peter and Paul, detail, Venice, San Marziale Fig. 4 Tintoretto, The Washing of the Feet, detail, Madrid, Museo del Prado
the closest parallel for the face of our Virgin can be found in the Sacra Conversazione in a private collection in Cremona (Fig. 1), or in the Presentation in the Temple in the Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona (Fig. 2): two paintings classiﬁed by Echols as Galizzi.4 However, I agree fully with the comparison offered by Pallucchini and Rossi with respect to our Saint Joseph: the ﬁgure especially resembles the Saint Paul on the right side of the San Marziale altarpiece of 1549 (Fig. 3); but with the proviso that Calmo’s text may suggest a date closer to 1547/1548. Indeed there are undoubted similarities with some of the venerable Apostles in the Last Supper in San Marcuola, dated 1547, or with the Washing of the Feet in the three versions in Toronto, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the Prado (Fig. 4), datable to more or less the same moment. A date between 1547 and 1548 thus seems perfect for the panel before us, which powerfully attracts our attention and stands in contrast with the ﬁnished quality of the works we have mentioned, as what could be deﬁned a “native” work of an artist who aimed for nothing but continuous study and elaboration, without any desire to ultimately sell such a painting. Mauro Lucco
Andrea del Minga Florence, 1535 - 1596
1 A. Nesi, ‘L’importanza e i signiﬁcati del paesaggio nella pittura sacra di Andrea del Minga’, Arte Cristiana, CII, 2014, 880, p. 51. 2 See Nesi, Andrea del Minga (1535-1596), un pittore dello Studiolo tra “calunnia” e… Fortuna, Florence 2014, pp. 12-14, and M. Zurla, in Baccio Bandinelli scultore e maestro (1493- 1560), exhibition catalogue (Florence 2014) edited by D. Heikamp and B. Paolozzi Strozzi, Florence 2014, pp. 550552 and 556-558. 3 The documents on this painting were published in P. C. Hamilton, ‘Andrea del Minga’s Assunta in Santa Felicita’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, XIV, 1969-1970, 4, pp. 466-468, but see also Nesi 2014, cited in note 2, pp. 77-81.
As recently established by the present author, Andrea di Mariotto Cini, called Andrea del Minga, was born in Florence in the Quarter of Santa Maria Novella on 27 January 1535.1 The nickname derived from his father Mariotto, called “El Mingho”, a tax-collector and customs ofﬁcer. Andrea learned to paint in the workshop of Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio and Michele Tosini, a powerhouse for sixteenth-century artists’ careers that saw the presence of many of the leading Florentines of the Studiolo generation (Girolamo Macchietti, Mirabello Cavalori, Niccolò Betti, et al.). Minga’s matriculation in the Compagnia di San Luca in 1554 marked the beginning of his activity as an independent master, followed in 1561 by the opening of his own workshop in the Palagio di Parte Guelfa. During these years the young painter was involved by Baccio Bandinelli in an important project for the Palazzo Pitti. This consisted of four panels of Biblical subjects intended by the sculptor as gifts for Duchess Eleonora of Toledo, representing the The Creation of Eve, The Expulsion from the Earthly Paradise, Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law and Noah as Inventor of Wine. The contract between Andrea and Bandinelli for the paintings, which are still housed in the Palazzo Pitti, dates from 31 October 1555, but their execution was much delayed, and only in 1560 did they enter the Medici collections.2 Bandinelli carried out the drawings for the ﬁrst three paintings and probably supervised their pictorial completion, while the one with Noah appears to have been quite independently designed and executed by his colleague. The backgrounds of these works are dominated by splendid vegetation, which reveal Andrea as a sensitive exponent of Flemish-inspired landscape painting, which was becoming widespread in Italy at that time, and indeed even a precursor of that wave of Northern artists, led by Paul Brill and Jan Soens, who appeared in the peninsula during the second half of the 1500s. The panels for Eleonora of Toledo established the basis for proﬁtable contact between Minga and the Medici court, and indeed his name often recurs in the administrative records of Florence’s ruling family. It was for the Medici entourage that he probably also created the prototype and replicas of an Allegory of Fortune, of which one autograph, high-quality version is discussed here. Having at this time become a member of the Accademia del Disegno, which succeeded the Compagnia di San Luca, Andrea was involved, together with other members of the academy, by Giorgio Vasari in the decoration of the Studiolo of Prince Francesco de’ Medici in the Palazzo Vecchio, to which he contributed the signed oval with Deucalion and Pyrrha between 1571 and 1572, a work also dominated by a splendid passage of landscape. Shortly thereafter he took part in Vasari’s project of erecting new altars in the Florentine Basilica of Santa Croce, where he was entrusted with the painting of the monumental Agony in the Garden for the altar of the Pazzi family (1574-1578). After this important work we do not have many other records of Andrea’s activity, even though his authorship may be assigned to a number of private devotional paintings and some portraits. For another surviving documented work we must move ahead to 1589-1591, when he was paid for painting the altarpiece of the Assumption for the chapel of the Canigiani family in the church of Santa Felicita in Florence,3 but this grand panel scarcely has any of the reﬁnement of pictorial handling or freedom of execution that had characterized his earlier work. So it was that Minga’s artistic career, until this point always marked by a notable quality, concluded in a somewhat tired manner, several years before his death in Florence on 8 June 1596.
60 Andrea del Minga
Medici Allegory of Fortune c. 1555 Andrea del Minga
Oil on wood panel, 78.7 x 61.7 cm, 30.9 x 24.2 in
61 Andrea del Minga
PROVENANCE C. Brinsley Marlay collection, exhibited in 1868 at the National Exhibition of Works of Art in Leeds, no. 154/a (as Andrea del Minga) LITERATURE National Exhibition of Works of Art. Ofﬁcial Catalogue, Leeds 1868, p. 20 A. Graves, A Century of Loan Exhibitions 1813-1912, London 1913, II, p. 746 P. C. Hamilton, ‘Andrea del Minga’s Assunta in Santa Felicita’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, XIV, 1969-1970, 4, pp. 466-467 A. Nesi, Andrea del Minga (1535-1596), un pittore dello Studiolo tra “calunnia” e… Fortuna, Florence 2014, pp. 65-66
1 A. Nesi, Andrea del Minga (1535-1596), un pittore dello Studiolo tra “calunnia” e… Fortuna, Florence 2014, pp. 57-71.
This panel forms part of a series of paintings housed in museums and private collections; I have recently been able to almost completely reconstruct their history and attribution.1 They contain a personiﬁcation of Fortune, depicted according to Mediaeval symbolism, and based in particular on a passage from the Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius (c. 524), that is, a gentle, attractive, halfnaked female ﬁgure balanced on a wheel, with eloquent connotations of instability. She is placed on a wheel because fortune “turns”, she is winged because she should be captured “in ﬂight”, and her hair is gathered in a forelock that derives from the Classical representation of Kairòs, according to which fortune should be grasped ﬁrmly, and “held tight”, when she presents herself. In the other versions the young woman uses her left hand to sow thorns or caltrops (metal points) symbolizing life’s pains and misadventures, while her right offers glory, honour and power, represented by a gold crown, a laurel wreath and a sceptre. This iconography appeared alongside another equally well-known one, adopted in art, but set in a marine context and also established in antiquity. The Greeks had created a mythological personiﬁcation of the concept of prosperity, fertility and fortune, naming her Tyche and giving her the attributes of the cornucopia, a symbol of abundance, and the rudder, in allusion to her power of manoeuvring human destiny as if it were a ship at the mercy of the waves. The Romans rechristened Tyche with the name Fortuna, celebrating her as “mistress of the seas” (Horace, Odes, I:35) and depicting her with a sail symbolizing the inconstancy of the wind. Our painting relates to the ﬁrst of these iconographic options, with certain symbolic peculiarities that enable us to connect it to the symbolic imagery of the Medici court, as we shall see shortly. Parallel to this depiction, as a point of departure for the allegorical invention, we must consider a drawing housed in the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Ufﬁzi (inv. 609 E), formerly attributed to Bronzino, Alessandro Allori and Michelangelo, which it has been possible to give to Minga for reasons of style (Fig. 1). Our painting must instead be identiﬁed as the “Fortune seated on a wheel” by Andrea del Minga exhibited by the collector C. Brinsley Marlay in the National Exhibition of Works of Art held in Leeds in 1868. The catalogue did not explain why the picture was given to Minga, who at that time was known solely through the few lines Vasari
62 Andrea del Minga
Fig. 1 Andrea del Minga, Allegory of Fortune, Florence, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Ufﬁzi
2 See Nesi, 2014, cited in note 1, pp. 68-69, with earlier literature.
dedicated to him in the Lives (where in any case no painting of Fortune by him is mentioned), but even if the brief entry does not say so, the reason for such a secure attribution must have been the presence of a signature, which is indeed visible in our painting, applied with a brush (Fig. 2). This detail, together with the unﬁnished quality of the paint surface, conveys the idea of a work conceived as a model for keeping in the workshop, as something to be used as a starting-point for subsequent versions. The model was only later brought to a level of completion acceptable for a client. But certain areas, such as the ﬂesh and drapery, appear to have always had a good degree of ﬁnish, almost as if they were there to serve as a constant point of reference for the painting of other versions. However, there is no trace of the crown and sceptre, and the caltrops (suggested, at least, in the drawing), which lends credence to the notion of a depiction still lacking its full iconographic and symbolic content. We are therefore very probably looking at a rare example of an introductory painting, carried out to a more advanced stage than a simple drawing or cartoon, and conceived by a master so that his workshop could deal with the demand for a sizeable quantity of examples of the same image, whose existence can in my opinion be tied to widespread pro-Medici propaganda and the ownership of the various versions of these works by the faction supporting the Florentine ruling family. This would explain why some of the versions of the painting (whether on the art market or in private collections) are close to the style of Minga, yet do not quite possess the customary quality of his work, and are therefore to be regarded as by different hands, perhaps by his pupils or collaborators. Given that this is a secular object rather than a sacred, miraculous image, the profusion of replicas can be precisely connected with support for the Medici at a time when Duke Cosimo had not yet consolidated his rule over Florence and Tuscany, and when there were still numerous exiled families opposed to his regime. Thus, just as the most loyal Mediceans had the efﬁgy of the reigning Duke depicted on the façades of their palaces, or within them, so they could commission images of this particular subject, which ultimately concerned them intimately, since their fortunes were tied to those of the Masters of Florence. In any event, the Medici had a clear idea of the symbolic representation of Fortuna, and we may be assured that the idea for this composition was born within their court circle, even though no supporting archival evidence has yet appeared. The Florentine rulers adopted the iconography of Fortune for numerous commissions, lending it apotropaic value in direct connection with their maintaining lasting power, and one of Lorenzo the Magniﬁcent’s sons, Giuliano Duke of Nemours, even shaped his personal motto GLOVIS – which reversed spells out SI VOLG[E] (“it turns”) – around the ebbs and ﬂows of fortune, thus precisely referring to the vicissitudes of fate that affected the family. In Lorenzo’s time, when the inﬂuence of Greek Classical culture on Florentine scholarly circles was stronger, the preferred depiction of Fortune was in its marine setting, with a sail, for example on the decorated bed canopy of his eldest son Piero the Fatuous, painted by Botticelli.2 By the mid-sixteenth century, however, the reigning family associated itself with the iconography found in our painting, which appears to emerge for the ﬁrst time in a Celebratory Portrait of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere painted by Carlo Portelli (who had been trained, like Minga, in the workshop of Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio and Michele Tosini), now in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and datable for historical and stylistic reasons to about the year 1555. A detail of this picture reveals the young woman seated on a wheel, with crown and sceptre in hand, while an armed man grabs her by her long forelock (Fig. 3). The soldier represents Giovanni himself, a mercenary commander, and the concept of this representation is based on the idea of man as author of his own fortune. This
63 Andrea del Minga
Fig. 2 Andrea del Minga, Allegory of Fortune, detail of signature
Fig. 3 Carlo Portelli, Celebratory Portrait of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, detail, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Putnam Dana McMillan Fund
3 E. P. Pillsbury, ‘A Medici portrait by Carlo Portelli’, in S. Bertelli and G. Ramakus, eds., Essays presented to Myron P. Gilmore, Florence 1978, pp. 290-294. We also know of another depiction of Fortune on the Wheel, formerly in the Greaves collection in London (see Nesi, 2014, cited in note 1, p. 59); however, the symbols found in the versions derived from Andrea del Minga’s prototype are reduced to the laurel wreath alone. 4 See Nesi, 2014, cited in note 1, pp. 68-69, with earlier literature. 5 See Nesi, 2014, cited in note 1, p. 64. 6 For this work see Nesi, 2014, cited in note 1, p.
iconography was almost certainly established in the circle of Don Vincenzo Borghini, the erudite Spedalingo (Rector) of the Ospedale degli Innocenti and originator of many iconographic programmes in Medicean Florence (including that for the Studiolo of Palazzo Vecchio); it was also conceived to celebrate Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, the son of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, thus also acquiring a dynastic meaning.3 Andrea del Minga’s drawing and his ﬁrst painted versions, beginning with the one before us, certainly had their genesis during these years within the same cultural and court circle, and ensured the success of this allegorical depiction. It was then employed on other occasions, until it acquired a sort of ofﬁcial seal of approval in celebratory Medici imagery in about 1579, when Alessandro Allori included the young half-dressed woman with the wheel, crown and sceptre in the grand lunette fresco of Hercules and Fortune Guarding the Garden of the Hesperides in the salone of the Medici villa at Poggio a Caiano, itself devised after Borghini’s invention (Fig. 4).4 As we have already said, the painting discussed here can be considered as the autograph prototype of the pictures by Minga himself, his master Michele Tosini (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum) and other Florentine painters of the later sixteenth century. This composition also attracted the interest of Maso da San Friano, who painted it on a panel that was correctly attributed to him when it was in the collections of the Del Nero family of Florence at the end of the 1500s, and which after various movements passed to a French private collection (Fig. 5). This painting was published as a work by Michelangelo in an engraving of 1849, and the attribution to the great Tuscan was consequently extended to the drawing in the Ufﬁzi and to some of the painted versions as they passed through the art market. The iconographic invention was thus also believed to have been Michelangelo’s, when in fact there is no evidence he ever conceived such an image, even if the concept of fortune has been identiﬁed among the many symbolic references in the Sistine Chapel Last Judgement. The fact that these paintings have been linked with Michelangelo is based solely on formal qualities, since the pose of the young woman on the wheel recalls some of the Ignudi on the Sistine vault.5 The versions of the image attributable to Maso diverge from the Ufﬁzi drawing and the paintings by Minga and his circle speciﬁcally in how the drapery surrounding Fortuna becomes pointed on the right thigh. Obviously, this detail can be also noted in the nineteenth-century print, as well as in another painting attributable to Maso, housed in the Medinaceli Foundation in Seville,6 whereas Andrea and his imitators allow the fabric to ﬂow with a perfect semi-circular movement. Apart from the drawing and our prototype, entirely autograph depictions by Minga exist in an American private collection and in the Museo di Casa Vasari, Arezzo; until a few years ago the latter was the best-known version of the whole series, and it was published several times with an attribution to Jacopo Ligozzi, deriving from an erroneous reading of a citation from old Medici inventories. Based on this historical reasoning, we may conﬁdently assert that the painting discussed here can bear the title Medici Allegory of Fortune, and be dated to
64 Andrea del Minga
Fig. 4 Alessandro Allori, Hercules and Fortune Guarding the Garden of the Hesperides, Poggio a Caiano, Medici Villa Fig. 5 Maso da San Friano, Allegory of Fortune, Paris (?), private collection
about 1555, as supported by a stylistic analysis of Andrea del Minga’s oeuvre. The successful combination of plastic volume and soft handling of colour, with a reﬁned impasto of pale pink and golden orange, and the facial features of the young woman, all signal the direction of Andrea’s art in the later 1550s as it evolved, together with that of Baccio Bandinelli, towards freeing himself, at least in part, from his training with Michele Tosini; but the perfect oval of Fortune’s head, and how it is inclined, relate to works still under the intense inﬂuence of Tosini, such as the beautiful Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist formerly in the Minot collection in New York (Fig. 6).7 One of the most evident formal differences that distinguishes Minga from Tosini is the way of constructing the ﬁgures sculpturally: whereas Michele retains a plastic solidity and anatomical correctness based strictly on Michelangelo, having studied the latter’s works and turned many of his drawings and sculptures into painting, Andrea – after his experience of Bandinelli – tends to dilate the forms, enveloping them and caressing them with soft, nebulous strokes of pigment. Contact with the sculptor brieﬂy brought Andrea closer to a more plastic construction of ﬁgures, as we may see in the Noah from the cycle of panels for Eleonora of Toledo, but in our full-bodied yet soft Fortune his sculptural deﬁnition has a different chiaroscuro intent with respect to Michele’s. If we compare our painting with the one in Vienna (attributable to Tosini), more solidly-built and deﬁned, and with carefullydrawn breasts and the bone structure of the ribs and pelvis clearly visible under the skin, we can see that the quest for softness of form achieved in the oval Andrea painted for the Studiolo, and in the Agony in the Garden of the Pazzi altar in Santa Croce, has already begun – embryonic, albeit not yet fully expressed. In the non ﬁnito that (deliberately or not) brings to mind Michelangelo’s creative process, our Fortune looks ahead to the more characteristic and freely-handled manner of Andrea, which led him to reject a clear deﬁnition of form in the ﬁgures of Deucalion and Pyrrha (Fig. 7), instead making their bodies and drapery as ﬂuid and malleable as the masses of trees and vegetation in the landscape that surrounds them. Alessandro Nesi
7 The name of the owner of the painting was given in Nesi, 2014, cited in note 1, pp. 46-48, as “Grafton Munot”, as apparently reﬂected in the handwriting on the back of a photograph in the Fototeca Berenson at the Villa I Tatti (Florence). Frank Dabell has kindly informed me that the collector’s name was Grafton Winthrop Minot.
65 Andrea del Minga
Fig. 6 Andrea del Minga, The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist, formerly New York, Minot collection Fig. 7 Andrea del Minga, Deucalion and Pyrrha, detail, Florence, Palazzo Vecchio, Studiolo of Francesco de’ Medici
Giovanni Battista Naldini Fiesole, c. 1537 - Florence, 1591
1 For a comprehensive view of the artist’s oeuvre, see G. Vasari, Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori (1568), edited by G. Milanesi, 1906, VI, pp. 288-289; VIII, pp. 619-620; R. Borghini, Il Riposo, Florence 1584, pp. 618-619; P. Barocchi, ‘Itinerario di Giovanbattista Naldini’, Arte antica e moderna, 31, 1965, pp. 244-288; V. Lasareff, ‘Appunti sul Manierismo e tre nuovi quadri di Battista Naldini’, in Arte in Europa. Scritti di storia dell’arte in onore di Edoardo Arslan, Milan 1966, pp. 581-590; A. Cecchi, ‘Borghini, Vasari, Naldini e la “Giuditta” del 1564’, Paragone, 323, 1977, pp. 100-107; V. Tátrai, ‘Œuvre inconnue de Giovanbattista Naldini au Musée des Beaux-Arts’, Bulletin du Musée Hongrois des BeauxArts, 48-49, 1977, pp. 87-104; M. B. Hall, Renovation and CounterReformation, Oxford 1979, pp. 68-71; A. Cecchi, ‘“Invenzioni per quadri” di Don Vincenzo Borghini’, Paragone, 383-385, 1982, pp. 89-96; Z. Wazbinski, ‘Giorgio Vasari e Vincenzo Borghini come maestri accademici: il caso di Giovanbattista Naldini’, in Giorgio Vasari tra decorazione ambientale e storiograﬁa artistica, symposium papers (Arezzo 1981), Florence 1985, pp. 285-299; B. Santi, ‘Nota su Giovanbattista Naldini: la pala di Collebarucci in Mugello’, Antichità Viva, 1985, 1-3, pp. 5657; A. Giovannetti, ‘Naldini, Giovanni Battista’, entry in La pittura in Italia. Il Cinquecento, Milan 1988, pp. 779-780; M. Burresi, ‘Tra maniera e Riforma: l’arredo pittorico della Cattedrale’, in La maniera moderna in Toscana. La cattedrale di Volterra tra maniera e riforma, exhibition catalogue (Volterra 1994), Venice 1994, pp. 48-51; and A. Nesi, ‘I pittori dello Studiolo a Pistoia. Riscontri bibliograﬁci e storiograﬁci, e situazione attuale’, in Giorgio Vasari tra capitale medicea e città del dominio, symposium papers (Pistoia 2011), Florence 2012, pp. 134-136.
Giovanni Battista Naldini was born in Fiesole in about 1537, and entered Pontormo’s workshop, through the mediation of Vincenzo Borghini, when he was just twelve; he remained there until the master’s death in 1557. Apart from the works of Pontormo, his apprenticeship was shaped by a thorough study of Andrea del Sarto, whose paintings provided the young artist with an extensive source of scrutiny, especially for drawing, and he paid close attention to Sarto’s felicitous combination of the natural and the academic. In about 1560 Naldini journeyed to Rome, where he was able to look at the great models painted by Raphael and Michelangelo, and on his return to Florence he frescoed a Pietà in San Simone, in which one can clearly see the results of such observation, together with the study of the Roman works of Francesco Salviati. In 1564 he contributed to the decorative apparatus for the funeral of Michelangelo in San Lorenzo, Florence, and in the following year to that for the marriage of Francesco de’ Medici and Joanna of Austria. The same period saw the start of his collaboration with Giorgio Vasari on the great project in Palazzo Vecchio, and he took part in the decoration of the Salone dei Cinquecento and the execution of the ciborium for the high altar of Pistoia Cathedral. He continued to work with Vasari, for example on the painting of the monumental altarpiece for Bosco Marengo, near Alessandria in Piedmont, even as he began to receive independent commissions for altarpieces for the churches of Florence and its contado; among the ﬁrst of these was the Way to Calvary for the Badia in Florence (1566). During the early 1570s he once again collaborated with Vasari on the decoration of the Studiolo in the Palazzo Vecchio, painting the panels of Gathering Ambergris and the Allegory of Dreams, which have endured as his most famous works, and then he was engaged on the project to adapt the altars in Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella to the canons of the Counter-Reformation, following the wishes of Cosimo I de’ Medici and under the direction of Vasari himself. For Santa Maria Novella he painted the Deposition (1572), the Nativity (1573), the Presentation in the Temple (1577), and – for Santa Croce – another Deposition (1583), painted after a second Roman sojourn that saw him working in the Altoviti Chapel in Trinità dei Monti. In his last period he was at work in the Florentine churches of San Marco and San Niccolò Oltrarno, as well as in the environs of the city (Maiano, Montughi) and the contado (Volterra, Collebarucci in Mugello, etc.), often assisted by his favourite pupil, Giovanni Balducci. Among his mature works, an especially signiﬁcant altarpiece is the Calling of Saint Matthew, painted in about 1588 for the Salviati family chapel in the church of San Marco, Florence, which attracted works by Santi di Tito, Alessandro Allori, Giambologna and Poppi – that is, the most important artists of the second generation of Florentine Mannerists – thus reﬂecting local patrons’ taste. This point emphatically underlines the high reputation of Naldini. He died in Florence on 18 February 1591.1
66 Giovanni Battista Naldini
The Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist c. 1560 Giovanni Battista Naldini
Oil on panel, 133 x 99 cm, 52.3 x 38.9 in
68 Giovanni Battista Naldini
Fig. 2 Giovanni Battista Naldini, Female Head, Florence, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Ufﬁzi
1 See, for example, the paintings by Andrea del Sarto, Pierfrancesco Foschi and the workshop of Michele Tosini, among others, illustrated by S. Padovani, Genesi e fortuna di un dipinto perduto di Andrea del Sarto, in C. Acidini Luchinat, ed., Scritti per l’Istituto Germanico di Storia dell’arte: settanta studiosi italiani, Florence 1997, pp. 205214. 2 On this painting see L. Berti, in Mostra del Pontormo e del primo Manierismo ﬁorentino, Florence 1956, p. 43; K. W. Forster, Pontormo. Monographie mit kritischen katalog, Munich 1966, p. 153; M. Milkovich, Paintings, in The Age of Vasari, exhibition catalogue (Notre Dame, Indiana and Binghamton, New York 1970), Notre Dame 1970, pp. 3132; and P. Costamagna, Pontormo, Milan 1994, p. 229, no. 73.22, with further literature.
Inspired by the archetypal compositions of Andrea del Sarto and his school,1 this Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist immediately declares its Florentine origins, emphatically conveyed by the Pontormo-like physiognomy and elongated neck of the Virgin Mary, who is deﬁned by subtle, elegant features and an oval face neatly bisected by a line of shadow. The most speciﬁc echo of Pontormo comes by way of his Madonna of the Book (c. 1545), the highest-quality version of which is in a Florentine private collection (Fig. 1),2 where the master uses an expressive idiom ﬁrst seen in the Pucci Altarpiece, painted for the Florentine church of San Michele Visdomini in 1518. The profound familiarity of the author of our Holy Family with Pontormo’s physical types, also recognizable in the ﬁgures of children, points towards a precise area of the older master’s small, select circle, enabling us to securely establish the authorship of Giovanni Battista Naldini (c. 1537-1591), his favourite pupil after Bronzino. Typical of Naldini in the painting before us is the palette, with its delicate, evanescent tonalities, brought together by an overall warm, golden hue – one of the most distinctive traits of his style, along with soft, sfumato handling. The ﬁgures emerge from the dark background in gradual modulation and attentive chiaroscuro passages, touched by the suffused light that leaves the ﬁgure of Joseph in half-shadow, while the main group is more decisively deﬁned and articulated. The Madonna’s face is one of the elements offering ﬁrm support for the attribution to Naldini, recurring in an almost identical manner in a drawing in the Ufﬁzi (inv. 7476 F, Fig. 2), and in the Virgin’s face in the central panel of the triptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints in San Martino a Maiano, near Florence (1584), in which there is a citation, albeit with variants, of the Madonna of the Book by Pontormo mentioned above. A resemblance can also be found in another Holy Family with the Young Baptist recently on the art market (Fig. 3), where the general composition allows for further parallels to be drawn in elements such as the pose of the central ﬁgure, her dress, and the choice of colours and their quality. If we add that the same face appears, together with the slightly stiff, elongated left hand, in many other female ﬁgures painted by Naldini, then we can say that his authorship of our painting is undeniable.
69 Giovanni Battista Naldini
Fig. 1 Jacopo Pontormo (?), Madonna of the Book, private collection
Fig. 3 Giovanni Battista Naldini, Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist, whereabouts unknown
3 Inv. San Marco e Cenacoli, no. 111. A replica of the painting is in the Museo Civico in Pistoia. 4 The Granaiolo panel is one of the most important and eloquent works by Naldini, for which see A. M. Petrioli Tofani, in Firenze e la Toscana dei Medici nell’Europa del Cinquecento. Il primato del disegno, exhibition catalogue (Florence 1980), Florence 1980, p. 150.
This can be observed in the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception and Saints painted in 1585 for San Francesco in Volterra (Fig. 4), the Virgin in Glory with Saints in Sant’Agostino, Prato, the Virgin and Child and Saints in the church at Collebarucci in the Mugello (1583), the Saint Catherine of Alexandria in the grand altarpiece with the Assumption of the Virgin and Saints painted for one of the Rospigliosi altars in Santa Maria dell’Umiltà in Pistoia (c. 1584), the Virgin in a Holy Family with the Young Baptist in the Florentine Galleries,3 and the Virgin marrying Christ and Saint Catherine of Siena in a late picture, painted in collaboration with the artist’s pupil Giovanni Balducci and now in the Museo Civico, Prato. Further conﬁrmation of the attribution can be adduced in the ﬁgures of children, among which we may mention the remarkably beautiful proﬁle of Jesus in the picture discussed here. The truly rosy cheeks and hair are rendered with the loosest of brushstrokes, resembling warm, transparent curls of smoke, and these too are entirely typical of Naldini. Extensive comparative material can be found, for instance, in the Trinity altarpiece in the eponymous confraternity adjacent to the parish church at Limite sull’Arno, near Empoli (Fig. 5), where the ﬁgures of infants abound as little angels, arranged in a variety of poses. The artist’s extensive oeuvre offers a wealth of comparisons for the Christ Child, for example – to limit ourselves to those also showing an afﬁnity in the anatomical structure of the full-bodied hips, and for the pose of the ﬁgure – the Child in the Nativity of 1573 in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, the little angel bearing a crown and palm of martyrdom in the Saint Catherine of Alexandria in Santa Maria delle Grazie, Pistoia, the child at lower right in the scene of Gathering Ambergris in the Studiolo of Francesco de’ Medici in the Palazzo Vecchio (c. 1572), the Christ Child in the Virgin and Saints in Granaiolo, near Castelﬁorentino,4 and so on. Proceeding with our series of comparisons, the ﬁgure of the young Baptist, who has an expression of slightly wild merriment, may be juxtaposed with his counterpart in the Virgin and Child with Saints over the ﬁrst altar on the right in the convent church at Camaldoli, in north-eastern Tuscany, in the child at lower right in the
71 Giovanni Battista Naldini
Fig. 4 Giovanni Battista Naldini, Immaculate Conception, Volterra, church of San Francesco Fig. 5 Giovanni Battista Naldini, The Holy Trinity, Limite sull’Arno (Florence), Compagnia della Trinità
foreground of the Presentation of the Virgin of 1590 in Volterra Cathedral, and even more so in the young Saint John on a sheet with the Holy Family in the Drawings Cabinet of the Ufﬁzi (inv. 648 F), though he is different in the overall composition from our ﬁgure. A ﬁnal detail of formal deﬁnition regards the way drapery is arranged across the Virgin’s knees in our panel, lending them a markedly voluminous appearance: this too occurs frequently in the painting of Naldini, and may be seen in the Angel of the Annunciation in the parish church at Uzzano, near Pescia (Fig.6), in the saints of the Granaiolo altarpiece and in many other works by the artist. Among these it is also worth mentioning a smallscale oil on paper modello in the Ufﬁzi, with the same subject as our picture (likewise inspired by Pontormo’s Madonna of the Book), in which the Virgin’s knees appear almost unnaturally enlarged (Fig. 7).5 To summarize and conclude, the Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist presented here is in my opinion an autograph work by Giovanni Battista Naldini, datable to before his journey to Rome at the beginning of the 1560s, considering the seemingly immature appearance of some of the ﬁgurative elements and the absence of traits drawn from the artist’s study of Francesco Salviati and Michelangelo, which he brought back from his Roman sojourn and which deﬁne his subsequent work. That this picture belongs to Naldini’s youthful phase is also proved by Joseph, who does not yet resemble the old men typically found in his later oeuvre, their substantial beards inspired by similar passages in the paintings of Salviati and Vasari. Rather, in its solidity of form, the ﬁgure of Joseph in our Holy Family shows traces of the art of Bronzino, whose work Naldini would certainly have seen during his initial association with the circle of Pontormo. However, all the salient features of his painting are already there, beginning with his Pontormesque training, which in fact appears here in its most genuine form, giving the painting a special value – that of a signiﬁcant and important early work. Alessandro Nesi
Fig. 6 Giovanni Battista Naldini, Annunciation, Uzzano (Pistoia), parish church Fig. 7 Giovanni Battista Naldini, Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist, Florence, Ufﬁzi
5 On this little painting see U. Baldini, in Bozzetti, exhibition catalogue (Florence 1952), Florence 1952, p. 40.
72 Giovanni Battista Naldini
Jacopo da Empoli Florence, 1551 - 1640
1 Documentation on the birth of the painter and on his family can be found above all in M. A. Bianchini, ‘Jacopo da Empoli’, in Il Seicento ﬁorentino (Biograﬁe), exhibition catalogue (Florence 1986-1987), Florence 1986, pp. 67-69, and E. Testaferrata, ‘Vicenda d’uomo e d’artista’, in Jacopo da Empoli 1551-1640. Pittore d’eleganza e devozione, exhibition catalogue (Empoli 2004), Cinisello Balsamo 2004, pp. 17-27. For an overview of the painter’s entire career, the monograph by A. Marabottini, Jacopo di Chimenti da Empoli, Rome 1988, remains fundamental. 2 On the original provenance of the ﬁrst painting, see A. Cecchi, ‘Documenti inediti sul San Luca del Giambologna e la committenza dell’arte dei giudici e notai o del proconsolo’, Antichità viva, 1995, 6, pp. 9-10; for the second, see the entry by R. C. Proto Pisani in Jacopo da Empoli, 2004, cited in note 1, p. 76, each with the earlier literature on these works. 3 I am currently engaged on a study of this important early work by Empoli, seeking to precisely identify the members of the Bardi family portrayed therein. 4 A work that cannot be by him is the Saint Joseph frescoed on a pier in the church of the Collegiata in Empoli, attributed by A. Griffo in Jacopo da Empoli, cited in note 1, p. 128; this belongs instead to Giovanni Antonio Sogliani (A. Nesi, ‘Due affreschi di Giovanni Antonio Sogliani nell’ex monastero di San Giuliano a Firenze’, Arte Cristiana, CI, 2013, 876, p. 182).
Jacopo da Empoli was born in Florence on Thursday 30 April 1551 in the popolo of San Lorenzo, the son of the linen worker and cloth merchant Chimenti (Clemente) di Girolamo and Alessandra Tatti, daughter of the sculptor Jacopo Sansovino. Jacopo’s father’s name, Chimenti, was long considered his surname, given the old usage of turning patronymics into last names, until it emerged that the true family name was actually “da Empoli”, a clan indeed tied to the eponymous town near Florence, and also known as “Siminetti” and “della Sannella”. The Siminetti/della Sannella, banished from Florence in the fourteenth century because they belonged to the Ghibelline faction while the city was being governed by the Guelphs, established themselves in the township on the road from Florence to Pisa, and took on the name “da Empoli” precisely to erase their earlier surnames and subsequently move back to the capital of the republic and settle there. The return to Florence was already a thing of the past by the time the painter’s greatgrandfather, Michele, lived and worked as a spice merchant in the popolo of San Lorenzo, and when his paternal grandfather, Girolamo, matriculated in the Arte della Seta (the silk guild) in 1522.1 With a celebrated sculptor as his maternal grandfather, and having evidently shown a penchant for art, the young Jacopo did not follow in the professional footsteps of his father’s family, and was placed instead in the workshop of Maso da San Friano (Tommaso Manzuoli, Florence 1531-1571), one of the most brilliant and resourceful artists of the second wave of Florentine Mannerism, and a protagonist of the generation who worked in the Studiolo of Francesco de’ Medici in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Jacopo’s apprenticeship with Maso could not have lasted long, because he died when Jacopo was barely twenty, but it doubtless left a profound impression on the young artist, who must have inherited drawings and cartoons from his master, which were then used in his ﬁrst independent works. Empoli’s ﬁrst two dated works are both from 1579, altarpieces with the Virgin and Child in Glory with Saints Ives and Luke, now in the Musée du Louvre, painted for the Audience Hall of the Arte dei Giudici e Notai (known as the Arte del Proconsolo) and the Trinity between Saints John the Evangelist and Michael the Archangel, painted for the Oratory of the Sacrament adjacent to the Florentine church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, and now in San Giovanni Battista della Calza.2 Both still steeped in Maso’s style, but executed when Jacopo was twenty-eight and his master had been dead for eight years, these were certainly not his ﬁrst works. Indeed a series of other paintings can be placed just before or after this date – often made for private devotion, as with the panel before us – and their dependence on Maso’s inventions is even stronger and more precise. The upper part of the altarpiece with the Annunciation with Saints Francis and Michael the Archangel and Donors of the Bardi di Vernio Family, a work made for the church of San Michele a Poggiòle at San Quirico di Vernio and now in the nearby church in Sasseta,3 is based on a drawing by Maso, who used the design to paint some predella panels; but the lower part of the painting shows that Empoli’s style was already starting to change as it adapted itself to the Counter-Reformation language of Santi di Tito, who was to be his new, deﬁnitive point of reference. His only fresco dates from 1581, a Christ Preaching at the Certosa del Galluzzo (just outside Florence),4 where he made a careful study of Pontormo’s paintings, copying the great lunettes in the cloister on small-scale canvases. Jacopo also paid close attention to the art of
76 Jacopo da Empoli
Giorgio Vasari, whose celebrated Immaculate Conception he was asked to copy in an altarpiece of 1588-1589 for the church of San Salvatore in Fucecchio (between Florence and Pisa), and although this involved some disagreements with the patrons, Vasari’s design was congenial to him, and indeed he repeated the composition several times in subsequent years for other locations in the contado (Empoli, San Quirico d’Orcia, etc.). In the meantime, he had matriculated as a member of the Accademia del Disegno in 1576, and an important altarpiece with the Immaculate Conception, painted in about 1591 for the funerary chapel of the Accademia’s luogotenente Niccolò Gaddi in the Florentine church of San Remigio, launched a new and long-term period of prestigious commissions from the city’s churches and the Medici family, the latter involving Jacopo in the decoration for the wedding of the Grand Duke Ferdinand with Christine of Lorraine in 1589. Empoli’s painting, with its tranquil, measured atmosphere, in which the ﬁgures exhibit composed gestures redolent of profound moral dignity, made him the preferred exponent of sacred painting of the Counter Reformation, with powerful appealing works such as the various versions of the Annunciation, the most familiar of which (1603) is in the Usimbardi Chapel in Santa Trinita, Florence. These paintings often contain portraits of workshop assistants and acquaintances of the artist posed as participants in the sacred narratives and described with a realism which – together with that of Filippo Tarchiani – represents the Florentine response to the naturalism of Caravaggio. It is hardly fortuitous that during the 1620s Empoli also worked with still life, painting various canvases with displays of game and fowl in which objects and animals are rendered with keen interest in their almost tactile presence. This attitude towards the representation of reality was also expressed through portraiture, the best-known example being the Portrait of Giovan Battista Gambetti, painted before the end of the 1500s (Florence, Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina, signed and dated 1594). Running parallel to the still lifes, a number of pictures of the 1620s represent secular subjects drawn from Classical mythology or the chivalric literature of Ariosto and Tasso, which was very much in vogue in Florence at that time. Such paintings manifest the artist’s use of reﬁned colouring – offering a complement to the cold, often austere beauty of the sacred canvases – in subjects such as Apollo and Midas, painted for Cardinal Carlo de’ Medici in 1624 and now in the Museo Civico, Pistoia. Empoli’s activity continued ceaselessly, unimpaired in its quality, until his death, and his output included grand works such as the monumental panel with the Virgin and Child in Glory with Saints painted for the chapel of the Del Palagio family in Santissima Annunziata (1628) and the altarpiece with the Virgin offering the Christ Child to Saint Francis for the Franceschi Chapel in Santi Michele e Gaetano (1636). Empoli was also a proliﬁc draughtsman, working in the grand Florentine tradition, and the largest selection of his graphic oeuvre is housed in the Drawings Cabinet of the Ufﬁzi Gallery, a substantial number of its sheets with a Medici provenance. Jacopo da Empoli died in Florence on 30 September 1640 and was buried in the family tomb in San Lorenzo.
79 Jacopo da Empoli
The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist c. 1575 Jacopo da Empoli
Oill on wood Oi d panel panel,l 73 x 57 cm cm, 28 28.7 8 7 x 22 22.4 4 iin n
80 Jacopo da Empoli
1 V. Pace, ‘Maso da San Friano’, Bollettino d’arte, 1976, 1-2, pp. 77 and 84. The work’s most recent appearance on the art market, I believe, was at Sotheby’s New York, 27 January 2011. 2 In fact it does not appear among the Madonnas by Maso discussed by Pace in 1976.
The reﬁnement of handling and choice of colours, together with the sometimes almost over-accentuated elegance of form that deﬁne the essence of the Studiolo painters, are all qualities present in this painting and make it attributable to Jacopo da Empoli as one of his very ﬁrst works, still deeply marked by his training with Maso da San Friano. The compositional arrangement of the panel should be connected with a Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist published with an attribution to Maso by Valentino Pace when it was in a private collection in New York. This was subsequently on the art market on several occasions, but is actually distinct in various respects from Manzuoli’s typical style and could thus be one of Jacopo’s initial works, painted while he was still in close contact with his master, shortly before his death in 1571 (Fig. 1).1 Maso’s true autograph prototype for each of these works remains unpublished (I shall be discussing it in an essay I am preparing on his Madonnas),2 but it appears to be the source for Empoli’s ideas as painter of private devotional pictures, before he evolved into the large-scale altarpiece format of 1579. It seems to me that this path took a very coherent course, beginning with the painting formerly in New York and leading to the panel studied here, not without some further fretting about the composition, as proved by infra-red reﬂectography. This reveals the existence, under the visible picture surface, not only of numerous pentiments (for example in the head of the Child) but also the squaring for the transfer of the cartoon, and even part of the drawing, of a preceding and entirely different composition. However, this evidence is not copious, and is therefore insufﬁcient for establishing whether the design could be traced back to Maso, or whether it formed a stage in Jacopo’s creative process. In the ﬁrst instance, the painting could have remained sketched out at the death of the older master, and then passed to Jacopo, who used it according to his own needs; in the second, it might represent the latter’s continuing search for personal expression. In any case, even this initial compositional idea does not echo Maso’s unpublished prototype mentioned above, but the voluminous female three-quarter proﬁle perceptible in the sketch may recall that of the Virgin in his Sacra Conversazione in the Convento della Trinità in Cortona; and the overall arrangement seems to bring to mind the inventions of Rosso Fiorentino (the Villamagna altarpiece in Volterra, or the Holy Family in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore), in which the static bust of the Virgin relates to a forward-leaning Child. Evolving towards the creation of his own artistic language, though still accompanied and nourished by the teachings of his master, and by the drawings and cartoons inherited from him, Jacopo reached the period of his ﬁrst two altarpieces of 1579 with a complete set of experiences; this surely included the painting before us, as well as a version of equally high quality (Fig. 2) now housed in the Museo d’Arte Sacra in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, near Florence, with a provenance from the nearby church of San Bartolomeo a
81 Jacopo da Empoli
Fig. 1 Late workshop of Maso da San Friano (Jacopo da Empoli?), The Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist, whereabouts unknown Fig. 2 Jacopo da Empoli, The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Museo d’Arte Sacra
3 For the painting in Tavarnelle, see for example E. Testaferrata in Il Pontormo a Empoli, exhibition catalogue (Empoli 1994), Venice 1994, pp. 24-25, with extensive earlier literature. A third variant of the composition is published by A. Marabottini, ‘Postilla all’Empoli’, Prospettiva, 57-60, 1989, p. 117, but this appears to be of lesser quality, perhaps because it is marred by widespread repaints. 4 The connection between the drawing and the painting on the London art market in 1958 is made in A. Marabottini, Jacopo di Chimenti da Empoli, Rome 1988, p. 178. 5 S. De Vries, ‘Jacopo Chimenti da Empoli’, Rivista d’Arte, 15, 1933, pp. 336-338 and 391.
Palazzuolo.3 At the same time, the young painter was designing a variant of the composition that was slightly more dynamic in the poses of the ﬁgures, but equally intense in the expressive tenor of the group, dominated (as in our painting) by the intimate, domestic mood, well conveyed by the modestly lowered gaze of the Virgin Mary. This other invention has its source in a youthful drawing in the Ufﬁzi (Fig. 3), which has been associated with a painting on the art market in 1958,4 yet judging from a photograph of it dating from that time, it is hard to believe that it is autograph. The true original painting by Jacopo based on the Ufﬁzi sheet is instead identiﬁable in a picture in a private collection (Fig. 4), but apart from these critical comments, the Florentine drawing is interesting with reference to our Madonna, not merely for its parallels in date and composition, but because it introduces a deﬁning element into Jacopo’s youthful oeuvre, already emphasized by scholarship in the discussion of the 1579 altarpieces and the painting in Tavarnelle: the impact of his study of the works of Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo, his genial counterpart in both name and (as regards family) local origins. As early as 1933 Simonetta De Vries had noted the derivation of the drawing in the Ufﬁzi from Pontormo’s Virgin and Child with the Young Baptist in the Corsini Collection in Florence,5 from which the sheet carefully borrows above all the young Saint John, emerging a little obliquely from the lower left corner, and – more freely – the ﬁgure of the Virgin, depriving her, however, of some of her original dynamism. In the Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist discussed here, the reference to Pontormo is especially explicit in the facial features of the Virgin, and it is precisely the characterization of her face, among others, that distinguishes it from the version in Tavarnelle. Like many of Pontormo’s ﬁgures, our Virgin has an elongated, slender face (while that of her counterpart in Tavarnelle is broader and more square), deep-set eye sockets and spherical, slightly bovine eyeballs, and a straight, sharp nose set over a small, heart-shaped mouth with the intense, brilliant colouring of a shiny cherry. The inﬂuence of Pontormo is still clearly in evidence in the 1579 panels and especially in the one in the church of San Giovanni Battista della Calza, but fully realized and maybe on the point of being assimilated, as the artist moves forward in his investigation of form. Here it appears to be still embryonic, and it seems that Empoli is facing up to Pontormo consciously and in an independent, personal way for the very ﬁrst time, after having
83 Jacopo da Empoli
Fig. 3 Jacopo da Empoli, The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist, Florence, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Ufﬁzi Fig. 4 Jacopo da Empoli, The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist, whereabouts unknown
6 On this painting see for example Pace, 1976, cited in note 1, pp. 77 and 84, where it is discussed, with extensive citations from earlier literature, as compositionally dependent on a small terracotta sculpture of the same subject housed in the Bode Museum, Berlin, believed to be a work by Pontormo. 7 On the signiﬁcance of ivy in Christian art, see M. Levi D’Ancona, The Garden of the Renaissance, Florence 1977, ad indicem, and M. Mangiavacchi and E. Pacini, Arte e natura in Toscana, Ospedaletto (Pisa), 2002, p. 219.
initially absorbed him through Maso. This was because Maso had also been a great admirer of Pontormo, and almost a copyist of his, in the series of pictures derived from a celebrated Holy Family with the Young Baptist in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.6 The importance of the painting shown here thus also lies in the freshness of a ﬁrst response to the most authoritative model of the preceding generation, with the artist’s expectation (perhaps ingenuous, at that moment) of becoming a direct follower and interpreter of that prototype. The undertaking may have seemed a little too bold for an emerging artist, but it later turned out to be shrewd and accurate, as Empoli really was destined to propel his fellowcountryman’s sinuous, elegantly attenuated ﬁgures and peculiar faces well into the seventeenth century. With the discovery of this painting, we may now be able to better and more deeply understand Jacopo da Empoli’s mature Madonnas, ranging from the one in the ﬁctive painting hanging in the goldmsith’s workshop in the Ufﬁzi Saint Eligius to the Virgin and Child in Glory with Saints recently rediscovered in a private oratory in Tagliaferro (near Pratolino, on the outskirts of Florence) and the Virgin in the Del Palagio altarpiece in Santissima Annunziata – even if these are informed by an elegance that never fails to stand in obvious complement to the great lessons of Andrea del Sarto, though always ﬁltered through the lens of Maso da San Friano. But the merits of this Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist do not lie only in its historical importance, and in the context of how Florentine painting evolved during the third quarter of the 1500s. The sheer beauty and echoes of formal reﬁnement that the Accademici del Disegno had lavished only a few years earlier on the sumptuous decorative project of the Studiolo, are here brought together in an admirable chromatic ensemble, fortunately complemented by an almost perfect state of preservation, alive with rich a impasto of hues and forming a more coherent and homogeneous whole than in the version in the museum in Tavarnelle. Indeed the freshest of pinks in the ﬂesh passages, modulated in countless ways by the quivering of light and shade, provides the base for the colour scheme of the whole painting, taking on a bright fullness when it changes into the red of the Virgin’s robe, and that of her lips, and growing paler in the white of the drapery that wraps around the Child, until it reaches the slightly daring changeant effects with the green of the mantle covering the head and torso of the Madonna. Accordingly, while it may vary from one area to the next, this sort of pink patina, glowing from beneath the skin, forms the leitmotiv of the whole painting, helping the beholder’s gaze to shift from one detail to another without obstacles or breaks. The version in Tavarnelle is based instead on a dull wine-red, turning to grey, and its visual impact is altogether less reﬁned. In conclusion, we should devote a word to the splendid passage of still life afforded by the reed cross held by the young Baptist, around which is curled a white scroll bearing the inscription customarily pertaining Christ’s precursor, and a symbolic tendril of ivy. Both these elements appear in the Tavarnelle version, and there too the scroll includes not only the classic phrase “Ecce Agnus Dei”, alluding by preﬁguration to Christ’s own sacriﬁce, but an intimation of what follows in Saint John’s Gospel, from which this is drawn: “ecce qui tollit peccatum mundi” (John 1:29: Behold the Lamb of God / He who takes away the sin of the world). The allegorical citation is thus a touch more complex, also referring to salvation from sin, and this detail induces us to further investigate the meanings of the ivy plant, which were manifold in Christian symbolism and sacred art, and not always related to one another. In fact, ivy is often found in Nativity scenes, creeping up the ruins of the Classical architecture that forms a support for the manger, and in this sense it alludes to the end of the pagan world and the advent of Christ. But in
86 Jacopo da Empoli
medieval iconography this also represented eternal life and the immortality of the soul after the death of the body, as well as being considered a symbol of the contemporaneously human and divine nature of Christ: in appearance weak (like mankind, destined to die) yet in reality strong and ďŹ‚ourishing, capable of undermining the man-made architectural structures to which it clings. Occasionally ivy also had a negative connotation, related speciďŹ cally to sin,7 and by fusing these multiple meanings we may understand its presence in this striking invention by Empoli â€“ a work that unites an educated formal design with an apparently simple devotional language, but far from something we can take for granted. Alessandro Nesi
Alessandro Turchi, called l’Orbetto Verona, 1578 - Rome, 1649
Alessandro Turchi was born in Verona in 1578, the son of Silvestro Turchi, a spadaio, or sword-maker, and of his wife Elisabetta. The nickname “Orbetto” (the diminutive of orbo, blind man) often used from the second half of the 1600s to refer to the artist, probably derived from the assistance he gave as a young man to his father, deﬁned in the Verona tax census of 1595 as “cecus mendicans olim spatarius” (blind, dependent on alms, formerly sword-maker). In any case the painter never signed himself thus, nor do we know of any contemporary sources that refer to him with this nickname, so it was probably assigned to him after his death. At the end of the 1500s Turchi joined the workshop of Felice Brusasorci, one of the most important painters active in sixteenth-century Verona. After a few years’ apprenticeship, the young artist began to work independently, painting both altarpieces and small pictures on pietra di paragone (black touchstone), a medium in which he has been recognized as the undisputed champion. When Brusasorci died in February 1605, Orbetto completed the works he had left unﬁnished, together with his fellow-pupil Pasquale Ottino, and painted the organ-shutters of the Accademia Filarmonica in Verona, whose ofﬁcial painter their master had been. In the decade that followed Turchi remained in his native city, establishing himself as its prime painter. Indeed he opened a workshop (its other members were Giovanni Ceschini and Giovanni Battista Rossi, called il Gobbino), took Brusasorci’s place at the Accademia Filarmonica, and was commissioned by the City Council to execute a painting as a commemorative gift for the birth of the son of Giacomo Marino, the camerlengo (treasurer) of the Venetian Republic in Verona. His fame gradually spread to the territory beyond the Adige, and he was celebrated by Giulio Cesare Gigli in La Pittura Trionfante (Venice, 1615). In 1614 the artist moved with his brother Simone to Rome, where he is registered in 1619 in the parish census of Santa Maria del Popolo as living in the “strada Paulina”. Alessandro Turchi’s name appears in 1617 in the ﬁrst proposal for reforming the statutes of the Accademia di San Luca, and in the same year he began a series of pictures for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who introduced him to the German-speaking colony resident in in Rome. However, his links with Verona were not severed: he painted numerous works for Count Gian Giacomo Giusti and for the churches of Rome in the period up to 1620. His ﬁrst Roman works, recorded by Giulio Mancini in the Considerazioni sopra la pittura, are marked by strong echoes of Carlo Saraceni – under whose direction he painted an oval in the Sala Regia of the Palazzo del Quirinale – and of the painters from Brescia who had been his models in Verona (and perhaps in nearby cities such as Mantua and Venice), namely Savoldo and Moretto da Brescia. These strictly northern elements were overlapped by others, such as a greater attention to ancient sculptures, and at the same time, an interest in the Caravaggesque painting of Bartolomeo Manfredi, in that of Lanfranco, and in that of the Tuscan painters active in Rome. Turchi’s style in the 1620s reﬂects the artistic syncretism of Rome in that period, resulting in some very dissimilar works, varied in both type and manner. The 1620s saw him increasingly frequenting the Accademia di San Luca, and through his fellow-Academicians he made numerous contacts and obtained further commissions. From 1622 onwards the painter lived in the Piazza Trinità dei Monti (within the parish of San Lorenzo in Lucina) in a house owned by Bernardino Naro, and in 1623 he married Lucia San Giuliano. By about this
88 Alessandro Turchi, called l’Orbetto
time Alessandro Turchi already had two new pupils (Lorenzo Mancini and Giovanni Antonio Polidori), who collaborated with the master on an extensive scale, painting copies of his prototypes, which were much in demand in both Rome and Verona. The altarpiece of Saint Anthony of Padua Preaching to the Fish, painted for the church of Santa Teresa of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers in Caprarola, represents a turning-point in Orbetto’s oeuvre. The work, carried out between 1627 and 1628, distances itself from the pictures he had painted up to that point, and its more strictly Caravaggesque tendencies yield to a more manifest opening towards the manner of Lanfranco and Guercino. By the late 1620s Nicolas Poussin and Pietro da Cortona also began to appear as further stimuli for the artist. The 1630s were a very signiﬁcant decade for Orbetto, who rose through the ranks of the Accademia di San Luca, of which he was elected Principe in 1637. In the meantime he began to obtain international recognition. At the end of the 1630s he worked for eminent French collectors such as Cardinal Mazarin and Louis II Phélypeaux, Seigneur de La Vrillière (for whom he painted the celebrated Death of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, now in the Louvre), and he completed two cycles of canvases with episodes from the lives of the Baptist and the Virgin commissioned by the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See Gaspar de Borja y Velasco on behalf of Queen Isabella of Bourbon. During these years the Veronese Marchese Gaspare Gherardini became Orbetto’s ofﬁcial protector (he commissioned a dozen pictures for his collection) as well as effectively mediating between the painter and the city’s wealthy bourgeoisie. Orbetto thus received contracts for numerous altarpieces in Verona, including Saint Francis in Ecstasy (Verona, Santa Maria in Organo) and ﬁve canvases for the church (later suppressed) of Santa Maria della Neve, erected over their altars in 1641. Alessandro Turchi died in Rome in January 1649 after a long and fruitful career, having painted over three hundred works.
The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist and a Male Saint c. 1610 Alessandro Turchi, called lâ€™Orbetto
Oil on stone, t 44 x 34,5 cm, 17.3 x 13.5 iin
90 Alessandro Turchi, called lâ€™Orbetto
PROVENANCE Cébazat, Pyrent de la Prade collection LITERATURE Unpublished
The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist and a Male Saint is a painting on stone that has recently re-emerged on the art market, where it appeared several times with a tentative attribution to Alessandro Turchi, a celebrated painter of works in this medium. It can, however, be accepted without question as an autograph work of his, not only because of close stylistic parallels with other paintings by this Veronese painter, but also for the high quality of its handling, now even more legible after the latest conservation, carried out in 2014. In particular, it resembles works painted towards the end of the ﬁrst decade of the seventeenth century, while the artist was still living in Verona (before he moved to Rome in 1614), making himself known as a painter of reﬁned compositions using this precious but fragile support – the famous stone quarried at Salò, mentioned by Vincenzo Scamozzi in his Idea della architettura universale (Venice, 1615). An especially signiﬁcant comparison can be made with Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Legion of Honor) and Venus Mourning Adonis (Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister; Fig. 1). In these works, too, we are considering paintings on a stone support, small in scale and datable to the ﬁrst decade of the 1600s (or more precisely between 1608 and 1610); and we believe that in Turchi’s case it is more ﬁtting to draw parallels with works of the same format and medium rather than with his grand altarpieces. First and foremost, the ﬁgures in the paintings we have mentioned have identical faces, and they all share unyielding, static poses; indeed Orbetto’s oeuvre from this period lacks a sense of movement, as if he had immortalized sculptures rather than ﬁgures of ﬂesh and blood. Furthermore, they have the same interest in detail and a similar range of colours, in particular the Venus Mourning Adonis has the same palette as our Virgin and Child with Saints, with a play of opposites in the warm ultramarine blue and sharpish purpleviolet (a colour also found in Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife). The painting presented here has a crown of four ﬂying angels in its upper part, holding each other’s hands. The composition is centred around the Virgin Mary, who is seated on a dais. The Christ Child is on her lap, playing with the young Saint John the Baptist, who appears on the left. On the other side, kneeling, we see a male saint who is hard to identify. The triple-crowned tiara in the lower right-hand corner could deﬁne this ﬁgure as pope, and his features suggest he is a young saint, probably a member of a religious order since his head is tonsured. We know of four popes who were members of the Dominican or Franciscan Orders, but each of them is represented as an older man. One might also imagine – given the aquiline nose, as well as the tonsure with which he is often depicted – that this is Carlo Borromeo (later Saint Charles Borromeo), who was not a pope, but the nephew and secretary of one (Pius IV, born Gian Angelo Medici). The papal tiara set on the ground might thus be allusion to this relationship, and to Carlo’s powerful contribution when his uncle reopened, concluded and enacted the Council of Trent. Prior to the last conservation, the picture surface showed Saint Gregory the Great in place of the young saint (Fig. 2), in all likelihood painted during the ﬁrst half of the 1800s (an in any case before 1874). The ﬁgure of Gregory wore
91 Alessandro Turchi, called l’Orbetto
Fig. 1 Alessandro Turchi, Venus Mourning Adonis, Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister
Fig. 2 Alessandro Turchi, Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist and Saint Gregory the Great, condition before conservation in 2014
1 For the technique of painting on pietra di paragone see most recently D. Dossi, ‘Un contributo per Marcantonio Bassetti: i due stipi del Kunsthistorisches Museum di Vienna’, Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Museums Wien, 12, 2010, pp. 142-143. 2 G. Peretti, in Alessandro Turchi detto l’Orbetto 1578-1649, exh. cat. (Verona, 1999), ed. D. Scaglietti Kelescian, Milan 1999, p. 237. 3 G. Mancini, Considerazioni sulla pittura, ed. A. Marucchi and L. Salerno, 2 vols, Rome 1956-1957, I, p. 255; D. Dossi, ‘All’ombra di Scipione Borghese: Alessandro Turchi per Costanzo Patrizi e qualche altra precisazione’, Arte Cristiana, CI, 879, 2013, pp. 460-462. 4 D. Dossi, ‘Paragoni di Paolo e Orazio Farinati’, Paragone, LXIV, 765, 2013, 112, pp. 22-31.
a soft, ﬂowing red chasuble and the area just behind him, at head level, had been overpainted with a white dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, his customary iconographical attribute, and – through his ear – the source of divinely-dictated liturgical chant. There could be several quite different reasons for this repainting, and some appear more plausible than others. It probably happened because in some areas the pigment had ﬂaked away from the stone, a problematic support which is known to repel liquid;1 indeed during recent conservation the robes worn by the Virgin and the unidentiﬁed saint showed several small losses, which altered the continuity of the painting. Or it may be that one of the owners wished to substitute the initial ﬁgure with that of a saint whose name he bore, and to whom he was devoted. The picture before us is not unrelated to another composition, also on stone support, painted by Orbetto at the end of the ﬁrst decade, namely the Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist and Saint Francis. The latter differs from our little panel in the ﬁgure of Francis, depicted in the place of our young saint on the right, but the pose and dimensions are faithfully replicated. The composition of the Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist and Saint Francis exists in at least ten other versions by the artist or his workshop, some of them even with arched tops; the most famous one is in the Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona (Fig. 3), and others can be found in Padua, Musei Civici, Bergamo, Accademia Carrara, Venice, Museo Correr, and elsewhere. This is symptomatic of how these sorts of ﬁgures and this type of object were highly appreciated, not only by special collectors of that time but also by monastic abbots, who ﬁlled their rooms with small paintings on stone or copper (the painting in the Museo di Castelvecchio probably came to the museum from the nearby convent of San Bernardino).2 In the case of our Virgin and Child, Alessandro Turchi did not limit himself to reproducing a successful prototype, but introduced a signiﬁcant variation with relative ease, creating a work that was original – current scholarship is unaware of any replicas or copies of it – for someone who was a devotee either of Saint Charles Borromeo (proclaimed Blessed in 1602 and canonized on 1 November 1610 by Paul V Borghese) or another saint, whose name that person probably bore. Whoever it was painted for must in any event have been important since paintings on stone were made for sophisticated patrons, or individuals who held prominent posts. Alessandro Turchi ably succeeded in adapting himself to painting on stone, a technique introduced to Verona at the end of the 1500s by his teacher Felice Brusasorci, some of whose patrons he inherited, especially in connection with the city’s Accademia Filarmonica, for which both men acted as ofﬁcial painters. Orbetto’s Veronese period saw him producing numerous paintings (both sacred and secular in subject) in this medium, and once he reached Rome, he used stone to make himself known to Roman patrons such as Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, or – according to Giulio Mancini – the as yet unidentiﬁed “capitan Sacripante”.3 The dimensions of the piece of stone on which Orbetto painted his ﬁgures – 43 x 34.5 x 1.3 cm – lead us to Verona. From the Giornale of Paolo Farinati, one of the best-known Veronese painters of the 1500s (and, as we have already noted, someone who habitually used stone as a support), we know that stone panels available for purchase in Verona at that time were generally of this size, and that they cost one scudo.4 So in addition to reasons of style we can assert that these circumstances also point to the Virgin and Child with the Young
92 Alessandro Turchi, called l’Orbetto
Fig. 3 Alessandro Turchi, Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist and Francis, Verona, Museo di Castelvecchio
Saint John the Baptist and a Male Saint being painted in Verona in about 1610. Little is known about its later provenance. The back of the painting has a small label bearing the inscription “Ce tableau a été donné à mon / oncle A. F. (en 1874) par le “Comte / Pyrent de la Prade” dans la maison / duquel mon oncle était précepteur. / – Cette peinture, représentant le “Pape / Grégoire-le-Grand” doit provenir d’un / disciple de “Michel-Angelo”. – J. F.” (Fig.4). We may thus deduce that the painting was in France, at least from the 1800s, in the collection of Count Edmond (Benoît-Edmond or Bénédict-Edmond) Pyrent de la Prade (Clermont-Ferrand, 1820-1901), where it was taken to be a work by a pupil of Michelangelo, and from which it passed in 1874 as a gift from its owner to his household tutor.5 This is not the ﬁrst instance of a work by Alessandro Turchi being ascribed to a collaborator or pupil of the great Tuscan, such as Marcello Venusti. An example can be found in the Picture Gallery of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, where a painting of the Cruciﬁed Christ by an artist in the circle of Michelangelo was long considered to be a work by Turchi because it was painted on stone. Alessandro Turchi’s association with France began during the painter’s own lifetime: starting in the 1630s he painted works for French patrons, for example the Death of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony (now in Paris, Musée du Louvre) for the gallery of Louis II Phélypeaux de La Vrillière, or the various canvases with sacred and secular subjects for the Italian-born Cardinal Mazarin. During the century that followed the French art market never lost its interest in the artist’s work, indeed it only grew during the second half of the 1700s. Paintings on “pierre de touche” or “marbre noir”, as they are referred to in sale catalogues or inventories became enormously successful and were imported from Italy on a large scale, for subsequent sale by shrewd Parisian dealers.6 We should not rule out that the Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist and a Male Saint – an early work by Orbetto, as we have seen, which probably remained in Verona or Northern Italy for a certain time – might have been among these pictures. Davide Dossi 5 Edmond Pyrent de la Prade was a politician and author of travel literature, including the 11-volume Mélanges, published from 1883 onwards. The family residence, the Château de la Prade, is in Cébazat, a French town in the département of Puy-de-Dôme, in the Auvergne. After having been sold in the 1920s and passing through various changes of ownership, the château was acquired by the town in 2007. I am very grateful to Frank Dabell for correctly transcribing the French inscription on the back of the painting, and for information on Count Pyrent de la Prade, the owner of the painting in the nineteenth century. 6 Especially D. Dossi, ‘Alessandro Turchi nella Francia del Seicento: opere, mercato, commissioni’, Bulletin de l’Association des Historiens de l’Art Italien, 19, 2013, pp. 10-21; Idem, ‘Il gusto per la pittura di Alessandro Turchi in Francia nel Settecento’, Bulletin de l’Association des Historiens de l’Art Italien, 20, 2014, pp. 51-59.
Fig. 4 Inscription on the back of the painting
Naples, c. 1603 - 1656?
1 For the painter, for all his works mentioned in this text and for the documentation on his life and career, one should now refer to G. Porzio, La scuola di Ribera. Giovanni Dò, Bartolomeo Passante, Enrico Fiammingo, Naples 2015, pp. 9499, 112-121, with a discussion of earlier literature. 2 Regarding this situation see F. Bologna, ‘A proposito dei “Ribera” del Museo di Bruxelles’, Bulletin. Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, I, 1952, pp. 47-56 (reprinted in Dialoghi di Storia dell’Arte, 7, 1998, pp. 146-150). 3 The most classic formulation of this misunderstanding appears in F. Bologna, ‘Per Giovanni Ricca; con qualche aggiunta a Enrico Fiammingo, al Monrealese e a Giacomo Mannecchia’, in Ricerche sul ’600 napoletano. Scritti in memoria di Raffaello Causa. Saggi e documenti per la storia dell’arte 1994-1995, Naples 1996, pp. 9-37. 4 The turning-point was established by G. Porzio, ‘Per la cerchia del Ribera a Napoli. Una rilettura di Giovanni Ricca’, Commentari d’arte, XVII, 50, 2011, pp. 66-75; idem, ‘Interferenze tra Francesco Guarini e la cerchia riberesca’, in M. A. Pavone, ed., Francesco Guarini. Nuovi contributi 1 (symposium papers, Salerno-Solofra, 16 December 2011), Naples 2012, pp. 37-53. 5 For the mention of “Didacus de Molina”, see the full transcription of the document in Gabriele Finaldi, ‘Appendice documentaria sulla vita e l’opera di Jusepe de Ribera’, in Jusepe de Ribera. 1591-1652 (exh. cat., Naples, 1992), ed. by A. E. Peréz Sánchez and N. Spinosa, Naples 1992, p. 393.
6 For the scarce material on De Benedictis, who was born in 1607 in Piedimonte d’Alife (now Matese), see the commentary to B. De Dominici, Vite de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti napoletani…, ed. by F. Sricchia Santoro and A. Zezza, 3 vols., Naples 2003-2008, I, 2003, p. 900, and the brief remark by E. Fumagalli, ‘Decorazione barocca tra Roma e Napoli: scambi di artisti e di modelli,’ Paragone, LVIII, 3rd series, 71 (683), 2007, pp. 62-63, regarding the decoration, at this point properly Baroque, of the nave of the Neapolitan church of Santa Maria Donnaregina Nuova, the sole surviving work by the painter (unless he were the one responsible for the signature “FoDBs” on an Earthly Trinity recently rediscovered in Vitulano, in the province of Benevento, in the parish of Santa Croce e San Pietro, brought to my attention in 2012 by Luigi Coiro).
94 Giovanni Ricca
Overlooked by literary sources, the signiﬁcant oeuvre of Giovanni Ricca has only recently been retrieved through scholarship. Indeed until the very end of the 1900s the painter was known solely by virtue of a few archival references and only two secure works – a Transﬁguration, documented in 1641, formerly in the church of Santa Maria della Sapienza in Naples, and a signed Adoration of the Shepherds in the church of Santa Maria del Sepolcro in Potenza.1 A stylistic reading of these two canvases had revealed an artist who was involved in the renewal of Neapolitan naturalism along neo-Venetian, van Dyckian lines – a movement essentially tied to Ribera’s experiments with colour, begun in the 1630s.2 However, based on Ferdinando Bologna’s erroneous attribution to Ricca of a group of depictions of old men’s heads (in fact by Hendrick De Somer) in the Museo di Capodimonte, a number of other paintings by his Flemish contemporary were also attributed to him, mostly consisting of variants of Ribera’s repertoire of saints and philosophers, with the result that one artist’s work overlaid that of the other, impeding a proper understanding of Ricca.3 The recent identiﬁcation of a remarkable Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Francesca Romana in a Florentine private collection as the small altarpiece painted in 1634 by Ricca for the Neapolitan church of Santa Maria in Portico, commissioned by Felicia Maria Orsini, Duchess of Sermoneta, marks a turning-point in the artist’s critical fortune, allowing his oeuvre to be expanded with works formerly attributed to Francesco Guarini, Pietro Novelli and Onofrio Palumbo, among others, and – above all – reclaiming his authorship of the slender corpus of the so-called Maestro della Madonna di Pico Cellini, which includes the beautiful Saint Catherine of Alexandria now in the Museo Civico di Arte Antica in Turin, still given the uncertain label of Bartolomeo Bassante, and which represents the early phase of Ricca’s output, as far as we know it.4 At the same time, documentary research has uncovered a notable amount of biographical data, which allows for a secure historical framework, even if Ricca’s chronology cannot be deﬁnitively established. From judicial hearings for marriage (i.e., to ascertain that both parties were free to wed) held on 14 May 1629, we learn that the painter was born in Naples in about 1603 in the borgo of Sant’Antonio Abate, near the Porta Capuana; that he had always been a resident of the city when he married his Neapolitan wife Caterina Rossa; and that he was living at that time in the area of Sant’Anna di Palazzo. Already active as an independent master in the years around 1620, according to a declaration by the ﬁrst of his two witnesses, Marcello Romano, Giovanni Ricca regularly frequented the Spaniard Diego de Molina, “trattenitore de Sua Maestà supra le galere de Napoli” since the mid-1610s. This is worth noting because Molina appeared as a witness to the marriage contract drawn up in 1616 between Ribera and Caterina Azzolino, and thus represents a connection between the Spanish painter and Ricca himself.5 The baptisms of his six children attest to his continued presence, until 1646, in the parish of Sant’Anna di Palazzo, as well as his association with two colleagues, Francesco De Benedictis and Niccolò De Simone, respectively godfathers of Laurina Eugenia Ricca (1638) and Bartolomeo Aniello Cristofaro Ricca (1640). If the true artistic identity of the ﬁrst of these painters eludes us (De Benedictis was the author of a very large and damaged cycle of frescoes in the church of Santa Maria Donnaregina Nuova6), the better-known De Simone can account for the
stylistic links between the two artists, and therefore go some way to explaining the signiďŹ cant shifts in attribution mentioned above. In 1650, Ricca appears, for the last time, as a witness in a notarial deed involving the inheritance of Filippo Vitale. Given the absence of any further documentation, we may presume the painter died during the plague of 1656.
Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria ante 1634 Giovanni Ricca
Oill on canvas, canvas 184 x 130 cm cm, 72 72.4 4 x 51 51.11 in
1 For Catherine’s hagiography see Iacopo da Varazze, Legenda Aurea. Con le miniature del codice Ambrosiano C 240 inf., ed. by G. P. Maggioni, 2 vols., Florence 2007, II, pp. 1350-1363 (text and translation) and 1700-1702 (commentary); for the episode of the failed torture with the spiked wheel, pp. 1356-1357. For the text in English, see Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, translated by W. G. Ryan, Princeton 1993, vol. II, pp. 334-341, especially p. 338.
LITERATURE V. Pacelli, in V. Pacelli et al., Giovan Francesco de Rosa detto Pacecco de Rosa. 1607-1656, Naples 2008, pp. 341-342, no. 77 (as Pacecco) N. Spinosa, Pittura del Seicento a Napoli. Da Caravaggio a Massimo Stanzione, Naples 2010, p. 235, no. 133 (as Pacecco) G. Porzio, La scuola di Ribera. Giovanni Dò, Bartolomeo Passante, Enrico Fiammingo, Naples 2015, pp. 114 and 176, ill. no. 144 (as Giovanni Ricca)
The fragment of a spiked wheel at lower left identiﬁes the subject as the martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria;1 the compositional scheme, with the protagonist fallen to her knees, surrounded by half-length ﬁgures of executioners, has an illustrious Neapolitan precedent in the design adopted by
96 Giovanni Ricca
Giovan Bernardino Azzolino in three versions of the Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, in turn dependent on the celebrated prototype painted by Caravaggio for Marcantonio Doria in 1610, though they vary the concentrated format of its depiction and the close bond between killer and martyr.2 This expanded layout – as in the work discussed here – with the motif of the great ﬂag raised in the middle of the action, was also used by Pacecco Di Rosa in a pair of variants on this iconography,3 and these similarities, together with the porcelain-like skin of the saint, led to the erroneous attribution of the Grassi canvas to Pacecco. In reality, the emphatically Riberesque language that deﬁnes the Saint Catherine, both in facial features and reﬁned colour scheme, as well as the polished handling of surfaces (if anything more reminiscent of Aniello Falcone’s technique), are instead characteristic traits of the style of Giovanni Ricca. This attribution is supported by comparisons – for example relating to the saint’s face – with certain details of the small altarpiece of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Francesca Romana, a documented work of 1634 and a key component of Ricca’s oeuvre (Figs. 1, 4): indeed the unmistakable locks of auburn hair are identical, as are the pearl-like whiteness of the ﬂesh and intense hues of red. Moreover, the recurrent appearance of this saint in the painter’s work, deﬁned on each occasion by brilliant colour – ranging from the Saint Catherine in Turin to the small-scale octagon in a Neapolitan private collection – might suggest some link with the maiden name of Ricca’s wife, Caterina Rossa. Considering that it is conceived with authentic naturalism, particularly acute in the ﬁgures of the assassins, whose crude realism stands in counterpoint to the sumptuous reﬁnement of the martyr, the Grassi picture can be closely associated – at a midway point between them – with two other similar scenes of torture attributable to Ricca. These are the earlier and unfortunately damaged version of the Martyrdom of Saint Barbara in the Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo in Naples (from the Real Casa dell’Annunziata), on which the present picture depends for the powerful torso of the executioner seen from behind (Figs. 2, 5); and above all – in the striking sequence of the tormentors and the docile pose of the virgin saint – the Martyrdom of Saint Ursula in the Fondazione De Vito in Vaglia, a masterpiece worthy of Ribera himself (Fig. 3). The painting presented is likely to date from the early 1630s, before the altarpiece for Santa Maria in Portico (mentioned above, in comparison), which is as we have said a work that constitutes one of the rare points of chronological reference for Giovanni Ricca. Giuseppe Porzio
2 See G. Porzio, in Tanzio da Varallo incontra Caravaggio. Pittura a Napoli nel primo Seicento (exh. cat., Naples, 20142015), ed. by M. C. Terzaghi, Cinisello Balsamo 2014, pp. 124125, no. 16. 3 See V. Pacelli et al., Giovan Francesco de Rosa detto Pacecco de Rosa. 1607-1656, Naples 2008, pp. 318-319, nos. 50-52.
97 Giovanni Ricca
Fig. 1 Giovanni Ricca, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Francesca Romana, Florence, private collection
100 Giovanni Ricca
Fig. 2 Giovanni Ricca, Martyrdom of Saint Barbara, Naples, Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo Fig. 3 Giovanni Ricca, Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, Vaglia, Fondazione Giuseppe e Margaret De Vito
101 Giovanni Ricca
Fig. 4 Giovanni Ricca, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Francesca Romana, detail, Florence, private collection
103 Giovanni Ricca
Fig. 5 Giovanni Ricca, Martyrdom of Saint Barbara, detail, Naples, Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo
105 Giovanni Ricca
Francisco de Zurbarán Fuente de Cantos (Extremadura), 1598 - Madrid, 1664
Francisco de Zurbarán, who was born on 7 November 1598 in Fuente de Cantos (Extremadura) and died on 27 August 1664 in Madrid, is now recognised as one of the greatest masters of painting of the Spanish Golden Age. In 1614, as an apprentice, he entered the Seville workshop of Pedro Díaz de Villanueva, a pintor de imaginería whose work remains unknown to us, and emerged in 1617, though he did not take the exams of the Seville painters’ guild. These years of study in the Andalusian capital were no doubt more complex and enriching than they have appeared in past scholarship. It was there that he associated with Juan de Roelas and Francisco Herrera the Elder, as well as Velázquez and Alonso Cano, his contemporaries, who were then young apprentices in the workshop of Pacheco. During his three years of apprenticeship, Zurbarán was of course trained as a painter, but also in the arts of sculpture, polychroming of statues and gilding of altarpieces, and he would have studied goldsmiths’ manuals in Seville, the ﬁnancial heart of sixteenth-century Spain, its churches and wealthy residences brimming with works of art. Zurbarán then moved to Extremadura for eleven years (16171628), settling in Llerena where he appears to have been successful, though curiously very little is known about his work during these youthful years. Starting in 1626, the young painter received important commissions from churches and monasteries in Seville, multi-part works that were mostly dispersed with the advent of the Napoleonic Wars. Of his ﬁrst great cycle, painted for the Dominicans of San Pablo, only a few canvases survive, including the ﬁrst dated work to have come down to us, the admirable Christ on the Cross of 1627 (Chicago, The Art Institute). This is a work of startling expressive power, with the Redeemer’s body emerging in violent light from a very sombre background, typical of the artist’s early tenebrist manner, and which seemed like a sculpture to his contemporaries. This initial series brought him immediate success and attracted numerous contracts. The deeply moving Saint Serapion (1628, Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum), among his masterpieces, belongs to a substantial group of canvases commissioned for the decoration of the Monastery of the Merced Calzada, now the site of Museo de Bellas Artes of Seville. Surviving pieces of this project, including The Cruciﬁed Saint Peter Appearing to Saint Peter Nolasco (1629), Saint Peter Nolasco’s Vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem (both Madrid, Prado) and the Virgin Bestowing the Mercedarian Habit (private collection), demonstrate Zurbarán’s ability to represent divinity bursting into the life of a saint. These clear, perfectly legible images explain his enduring success with the Sevillian monks who sought to endow their monasteries with decoration conforming to the dictates of the Council of Trent. In 1629 he also worked for the Franciscan College of San Buenaventura, painting four large canvases (Dresden, Gemäldegalerie and Paris, Louvre), typical of this ﬁrst period, starkly lit and with faces seemingly carved from wood. In the same fertile year, 1629, Zurbarán settled permanently in Seville at the request of the Municipal Council, supported by his powerful clients, and was named “master painter of the city of Seville” in another important contract signed with the monks of the Trinidad Calzada. The following decade represents the zenith of his career as regards quantity and quality of commissions, and the numerous signed and dated works from this period enable us to judge the distinction he had achieved, but also to note the occasional presence of a signiﬁcant workshop, especially in the execution of the major series of paintings. In 1630, he worked for the Jesuits, and in the following year he signed the monumental Apotheosis of Saint Thomas Aquinas for the chapel of the great Dominican College of Seville. Although the Saint Peter (part of the Apostolado in
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the Museum in Lisbon, and very inﬂuenced by Ribera), is signed and dated 1633, the ensemble appears to have been painted with the extensive participation of assistants. Dating from the same year, the stupendous Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose in the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena appears instead as a masterpiece of exceptional quality, showing the artist’s brilliance in his treatment of bodegones. Zurbarán’s manifold success in Seville came to a head in 1634 with the invitation to take part in the decoration of the Grand Hall of the new Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid. There he painted ten Labours of Hercules and two large canvases depicting The Battle of Cadiz, which survive in the Prado. The artist made a swift return to Seville, where he was much in demand, and in 1636 signed a contract for an altarpiece for Nuestra Señora de la Granada de Llerena. In the same year two powerful pictures, a Saint Lawrence (Saint Petersburg, Hermitage) and a Saint Anthony Abbot (Madrid, Villar-Mir collection), were among the works painted for the Merced Descalza of San José in Seville. In 1638 he signed the imposing Saints Romanus and Saint Barulas in the Art Institute, Chicago. 1637 saw the beginning of a notable increase in commissions from beyond Seville. The series painted for the Charterhouse at Jerez de la Frontera is scattered through various museums, and in this case the painter was responsible for every canvas of the altarpiece, signing and dating the Adoration of the Shepherds in 1638 and the Circumcision in 1639; both masterpieces are in the Museum in Grenoble, which also houses the Annunciation and the Adoration of the Magi. Other pictures, including a series of angels and white-robed monks also painted for the Jerez Carthusians, are now in the Museum in Cadiz, while the grand Battle of La Defensión is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the sublime Virgin of the Rosary is in the Museum in Pozna . In the same years (1638-1639) he decorated the sacristy of the Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a wellknown shrine to the Virgin as Patron of Spain. The Mass of Father Cabañuelas, dated 1638, was delivered ahead of time, no doubt as preliminary proof of his capacities before the execution of this major ensemble; most of the seven other canvases were signed in 1639. These exceptional pictures, culminating in the Chapel of Saint Jerome, form one of the rare cycles to have remained in situ, representing important ﬁgures of the Hieronymite Order such as the famous Fray Gonzalo de Illescas. At the peak of his power, Zurbarán adapted his exceptional gifts to the needs of the patrons of these two great cycles, without giving up any of his individual qualities: striking plasticity of form, harmonious colouring and intelligent distribution of light. The art of Zurbarán was not limited to these extraordinary monastic series, which made such an impact on French Romantic writers: his celebrated Female Saints form an exquisite sequence of Andalusian belles, anachronistic but ravishing damsels, proud in bearing and dazzlingly dressed. Overwhelmed by commissions which he could only complete with numerous assistants, Zurbarán depicted the Founders of Religious Orders in processional series, as well as a startling group of Biblical Patriarchs, the richly-attired Jacob and his Sons, and legendary warriors such as the Infants of Lara, destined for the American market, and derived from Italian, German, Flemish and even French engravings. Alongside these essentially decorative series painted with varying degrees of wokshop assistance, Zurbarán began (especially after 1640) to treat more intimate religious themes, full of grace but without any maudlin sentimentality. The Immaculate Virgin depicted as a young child, Christ’s childhood, or that of the Virgin, the various images of Veronica’s Veil, Christ on the Cross, and the numerous canvases of Saint Francis all reveal the variety of his oeuvre, steeped in restraint, immobility, and a fascinated eye for reality and the nature of things. However, life in Seville became increasingly difﬁcult for both political and economic reasons, and in 1649 the plague struck the city, decimating the population. Very few signed paintings appear during these terrible years; in 1653,
107 Francisco de Zurbarán
the intensely moving Christ Bearing the Cross (Orléans, Cathedral) precedes the three large subjects – including the celebrated Supper of the Carthusians – painted for the Carthusian Monastery of Las Cuevas. The light backgrounds, balanced compositional scheme and lightness of touch all point to the late date of 1655 cited in a subsequent document. Scarce commissions and domestic difﬁculties in Seville led Francisco de Zurbarán to leave for the Royal Court in 1658. We now know a good deal about these last years in Madrid: no doubt suffering from illness in his last two years, the artist died on 27 August 1664. Between 1658 and 1662 he signed and dated several works that were small in scale but exalted in quality, as if he wished to assert his skill for potential private patrons. The works from this last phase offer proof of a clear evolution with respect to his earlier periods. Inﬂuenced by Velázquez and Italian (especially Bolognese) paintings he could discover in the palaces of Madrid, Zurbarán must have found some satisfying professional prospects, as he settled in the city for good, with his family. He was often asked to paint the subject of the Virgin and Child, examples of which exist in the splendid Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist (1658, San Diego Museum of Art) and the Virgin Suckling the Child (1658, Moscow, Pushkin Museum), as well as a touching Veronica’s Veil (1658, Valladolid, Museo de Escultura), a sort of religious trompe l’oeil. Several paintings signed and dated in 1659 have survived, including The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (Budapest, Szépmüvészeti Múzeum) or the so-called “Hamlet” Saint Francis (Madrid, Arango collection). Others dated 1661 include two delicate depictions of the Immaculate Virgin as a Child (Budapest, Szépmüvészeti Múzeum and Langon, parish church) and a Vision of Saint Francis at the Porziuncola (private collection). His last known signed work is another Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist (1662, Bilbao, Museum of Fine Arts). Most of these pictures executed without workshop participation and relatively small in scale, appear to have been destined for private oratories. Contrary to what is too often stated, the period after 1650 saw no diminution of Zurbarán’s talent; rather, it evolved, with his abandoning the pronounced tenebrism of his early years in favour of a lighter palette and a vaporous manner that owes more to the inﬂuence of Bolognese paintings and the taste of his new clients than it does to the style of the young Murillo, the rising star of the Seville school. His obsessive love of describing objects is manifested in some rare still lifes or bodegones (Madrid, Prado and Barcelona, MNAC), pure masterpieces that have remained unequalled, but also in the details of other compositions involving the presence of some book, ﬂower or pitcher, or fruits simply arrayed on a pewter plate. Zurbarán was not an inventor of forms; he was strongly inﬂuenced by polychrome sculpture, and in composing his pictures, like all his contemporaries, he was aided by Italian or Northern images which had become widespread through prints. Nonetheless, very often faced with speciﬁc commissions that lacked any form of iconographical precedent, he still succeeded in being the most scrupulous and authentic interpreter of contemporary religious thought, which explains his stunning success in Seville. The painter of asceticism, monastic discipline and militant Catholicism, he convincingly illustrates the homilies of his time. His art is informed by a more real, more concrete method of apprehending the marvels of creation, whether humble or magniﬁcent, following the tenet of great Spanish mystics who proposed to “ﬁnd God in all things”. More than anyone, he applies himself to a rendering of the tactile values of the objects he represents – the weight of fabrics, the brilliance of brocades and satins, the coarseness of a monk’s cowl, the wool of a sheep, the polish of pewter. Through his own secret alchemy, he transmutes this scrupulous naturalism and turns the quotidian into something sacred. His taste for ample forms, his gift for conveying their fullness, the startling “silence ” that emanates from his paintings, and his prodigious talent as colourist make him one of the Spanish Golden Age masters who most touches our modern sensibility.
108 Francisco de Zurbarán
Lamb with its Legs Bound 1631 Francisco de Zurbarán
Oil on canvas, 84 x 116 cm, 33 x 45.6 in Traces of a signature
PROVENANCE Madrid, collection of the architect Secundino Zuazo Ugalde Spain, collection of the Fernández-Victorio y Canoura family Spain, collection of Gonzalo Manuel Gómez Martínez De Escobar LITERATURE P. Guinard, ‘Aportaciones críticas de obras zurbaranescas’, Archivo Español de Arte, XXXVII, 1964, p. 127, pl. II, no. 2
109 Francisco de Zurbarán
J. Gállego and J. Gudiol, Zurbarán 1598-1664, Barcelona 1976, no. 79, ﬁg. 81 M. Díaz Padrón, ‘Una quinta repetición inédita del Agnus Dei de Zurbarán’, Goya, nos. 164-165, 1981, p. 66 O. Delenda, ‘Biografía ilustrada de Francisco de Zurbarán, nuevos datos’, in Zurbarán ante su centenario [1598-1998], Seminario de Historia del Arte, Fundación duques de Soria, Valladolid , 1999, p. 85 O. Delenda, Francisco de Zurbarán, 1598-1664. Catálogo razonado y crítico. Volumen I, Madrid 2009, no. I-39, pp. 179-180, illustrated
1 A. Palomino Y Velásco, El Museo Pictórico y Escala Optica, Madrid 1724, 3 vols.; 1988 ed., p. 275. Palomino, Lives, translated by Nina Ayala Mallory, Cambridge 1987, p. 184. 2 J. M. Pita Andrade and Á. Aterido, eds., Corpus Velazqueño. Documentos y Textos, Madrid 2000, II, p. 655; Joseph Townsend, A Journey through Spain in the Years 1786-1787, London 1791, II, pp. 300-301. 3 P. Guinard, Zurbarán et les peintres espagnols de la vie monastique, París 1960; revised ed. by C. Ressort, París 1988, p. 280. 4 D. Angulo Íñiguez, ‘Una variante del Agnus Dei del museo de San Diego en los Estados Unidos’, Archivo Español de Arte, 1950, XXIII, pp. 77-78.
Francisco de Zurbarán became famous above all for his chronicle of Spanish monastic life during the seventeenth century, for his portraits of austere monks, steeped in spirituality, and also for his depictions of beautiful female saints wearing, rich, sumptuous costumes. In his rare still lifes, he shows an immense talent for the representation of the most ordinary objects, lending them stylized, almost abstract forms of an almost unbelievable plasticity. On several occasions, he also painted striking images of lambs with their legs bound, placed on simple surfaces. This curious and profoundly original subject appears to have been personally invented by Francisco de Zurbarán. The painting before us, after recent conservation, is without doubt the ﬁrst of these charming young ovines, known to us today in seven autograph versions. In the 1960s, when this picture belonged to a great friend of María Luisa Caturla, a renowned Zurbarán specialist, she read the remains of a signature in the upper left area of the canvas: “Franco de Z”, as well as the date “1631”, which would makes this Lamb with its Legs Bound the ﬁrst signed canvas of this series. The inscription is practically worn away, and is now illegible. Treated with great simplicity and an extraordinary sense of the natural in the rendering of their curly ﬂeece, these lambs were appreciated very early on, to judge by the commentary written by Palomino, the painter’s ﬁrst biographer, in 1724: “A collector in Seville has a little lamb by this artist [Zurbarán], done from nature, which he says he values more than one hundred live rams!”.1 At the end of the eighteenth century, an unexpected anecdote shows us how undeniably successful Zurbarán’s Lambs – so valued in our own day – were for foreign viewers. In an account of travel in Spain in 1786-1787, the Englishman Joseph Townsend describes a visit to the important collections in Seville, including that of Don Donato de Arenzana: “In the possession of the latter is, perhaps, the most perfect representation that was ever painted on canvass: it is a lamb, by Zurbaran, with which Velázquez was so much struck, that he took the pains to copy it. This [copy by Velázquez] I had seen in the possession of D. Fr. de Bruna; but when I had viewed the original [by Zurbarán], the copy, much as I had before admired it, sunk in my estimation.”!2 The curious subject of the painting discussed here poses a problem of interpretation, because the young ram with its legs crossed and bound with a cord seems asleep, stretched out in proﬁle and pointing to the left, in an attitude that unquestionably evokes sacriﬁce. Its light body stands out a against a very dark grey background. Certain authors like Paul Guinard see nothing more than a simple still life, with no hidden symbolism,3 whereas others like Diego Angulo, prefer to read all representations of sheep with bound feet as metaphors for the sacriﬁcial Agnus Dei, even when they lack a halo or scriptural inscriptions.4 We know of seven autograph examples of these young lambs, very similar to the one offered by the shepherds in Zurbarán’s Adoration in the Museum in Grenoble (Fig. 1), signed and dated 1638, that is,
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Fig. 1 Francisco de Zurbarán, Adoration of the Shepherds, Musée de Grenoble
5 Oil on canvas, 61.3 x 82 cm (O. Delenda, Francisco de Zurbarán, 1598-1664. Catálogo razonado y crítico. Volumen I, Madrid 2009, no. I-55, pp. 223-224, illus.). 6 Oil on canvas, 38 x 62 cm (Delenda, 2009, cited in note 5, no. I-105, pp. 342-343, illus.). 7 Oil on canvas, 38 x 56 cm, private collection. 8 Oil on canvas, 37 x 58 cm, and oil on canvas, 36 x 51 cm (Delenda, 2009, cited in note 5, no. I-105 bis, pp. 344-345; and no. I-106, pp. 346-347, both illus.).
during his maturity. Among the many versions of this subject, the one considered here – like the one formerly in the Plandiura collection in Barcelona, signed and dated 16325 (Fig. 2) – are distinctly larger, and show a still slightly tentative balance between the dark background and the brightly-lit mass of the animal. For Guinard, in both instances, the creature is not a lamb (as in the painting in Grenoble) but a young ram with horns, emphatically deﬁned and still growing, and thus a simple study from nature. The perfect balance in this original composition was to be achieved with the version in the Museo del Prado, Madrid6 (Fig. 3), which although smaller than the Lambs of 1631 and 1632, seems the most ﬁnished, both in its quality and excellent condition; the back of this little canvas bears the royal seal of Ferdinand VII, which is why it was supposed that it belonged to the Royal Collections before being given to the family of the Marquesses del Socorro, in which it remained until it was acquired by the Prado in 1986. The excellent state of the canvas allows us to admire the texture of the woolly ﬂeece, rendered with an exceptional truth to nature, creamy and ivory-like. The colour harmony, so true, points to a dating in the years between 1635 and 1640. An unpublished version of a Lamb with its Legs Bound7 (Fig. 4) of more or less the same size has recently come to light, also in perfect condition and displaying a recognized painterly quality; it may be considered as one of the most successful, together with the magniﬁcent canvas in the Prado. These last two versions contain slight variants: the one in the Prado has the lamb almost completely ﬁlling the picture surface, whereas the new version gives greater space to the area above the little animal; but in both case it lies on its side, resting on the sacriﬁcial block. These most delicate images were evidently painted using a live model, as were two others, fairly similar in aspect but in not as good condition (Spain, private collections).8 In each of these autograph replicas, with slight variants, Zurbarán always places the bound lamb against a dark background and on a more or less clearly visible stone or wood lintel; this is not so distinct in the version presented here, since it doubtless disappeared after old, overzealous restoration, but it can be clearly seen with X-radiography. The presentation of the young ram, laid out on a ﬂat surface evoking a sacriﬁcial altar, as does the silently peaceful atmosphere, suggests religious intent. The emblem of sweetness, innocence and obedience, the lamb – his legs tied crosswise, a sacriﬁcial victim – is charged with constant symbolic meaning in the Bible: Saint Peter (1 Pet 18-19) and Saint Paul (1 Cor 5:7) assert in their epistles that Christ’s death perfectly fulﬁls the sacriﬁce of the Paschal lamb. In his Gospel, assimilating Jesus to this metaphor, Saint John the Evangelist (John 1:29) likewise connects it to the prophecy of Isaiah, a mysterious
111 Francisco de Zurbarán
Fig. 2 Francisco de Zurbarán, Lamb with its Legs Bound, private collection Fig. 3 Francisco de Zurbarán, Lamb with its Legs Bound, Madrid, Museo del Prado Fig. 4 Francisco de Zurbarán, Lamb with its Legs Bound, private collection
Fig. 5 Francisco de Zurbarán, Agnus Dei, San Diego, Museum of Art
Fig. 6 Francisco de Zurbarán, Agnus Dei, Madrid, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando
9 Oil on canvas, 35.56 x 52.07 cm (Delenda, 2009, cited in note 5, no. I-107, pp. 348-350, illus.). 10 Oil on canvas, 38 x 62 cm (Delenda, 2009, cited in note 5, no. I-149, pp. 462-463, illus.).
passage that foretells a suffering Messiah symbolized by the sacriﬁce of a lamb (Is 53:7). The representation of the Mystic Lamb was often used to symbolize Christ in Christian art of the early centuries, and in its immaculate whiteness, the lamb always embodies the triumph of renewal and the victory of life over death. The shedding of the redeeming blood of Christ on the Cross is not unrelated to the immolation of the Paschal lamb and the saving blood of the sacriﬁced lamb with which the Jews smeared their doors so as to avert the vengeance of Yahweh during the night of the last Passover in Egypt (Ex 12:11-13, 22-23). Furthermore, every morning and evening, a lamb was sacriﬁced in the Temple in Jerusalem to expiate the sins of the people (Ex 29:38-42). These daily premonitory sacriﬁces were seen as a means of leading the Jews to the saving grace of Christ on the Cross. Whether or not they are accompanied by Christian symbols, Zurbarán’s depictions of lambs with their legs tied do assume a very likely religious meaning. Two of them are without a shadow of doubt images of the Agnus Dei. In a delicate painting in the San Diego Museum of Art9 (Fig. 5), as well as in a canvas signed and dated 1639, now housed in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid,10 (Fig. 6), the halo over the lamb’s head, and above all the inscription “Tanquam agnus” (like a lamb), inscribed on the ﬂat surface, remove any doubt regarding the Christian symbolism of the young sheep, depicted without horns in both these versions: this is indeed an instance of a little lamb and not a young ram, symbolizing the Saviour handed over on behalf of sinners. An engraving by Hieronymus Wierix, made before 1619, shows an angel watching over the dead Christ at the foot of the Cross, as if resting against a lamb with its legs bound (Fig. 7). Below the engraving appears a verse from the Acts of the Apostles, itself a quotation from the prophet Isaiah “Tamquam ovis ad occisionem ductus est: et sicut agnus coram tondente se, sine voce, sic non aperuit os suum (Acts 8:32: “Led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before the shearer, so he opened not his mouth”). Likewise, the prophet Jeremiah compares himself in the Old Testament to the meek lamb who is taken to be slaughtered (Jer 11:19). In 1668, some years after Zurbarán’s death, the young Claudio Coello signed a large altarpiece of the Annunciation for the church of the Benedictine nunnery of San Plácido in Madrid, painting a small sheep on the door of the tabernacle (Fig. 8), also offered as a sacriﬁce for the saving of sinners, surmounted by a cartouche inscribed as follows: “Agnus/Tamqvam/occisvs/Qui tollit pecata mundi”, a text uniting the prophecies of Isaiah and Saint John the Baptist. The ancient symbolic ﬁgure of the Mystic Lamb, adopted by Zurbarán in the
112 Francisco de Zurbarán
Fig. 7 Hieronymus Wierix, Angel Watching over the Dead Christ at the Foot of the Cross Fig. 8 Claudio Coello, Tabernacle door, Madrid, Convent Church of San Plácido
11 Salamanca edition, 1600, folios 249-250. 12 E. Orozco Díaz, Temas del Barroco, Granada 1942, facsimile ed., Granada 1989. 13 See Josefa de Obidos of Portugal. The Sacred and the Profane, exh. cat., Washington D.C., National Museum of Women in the Arts (June-July 1997); London, European Academy of Arts (OctoberNovember 1997), no. 17, Agnus Dei, oil on canvas, 88 x 116 cm, Évora, Museu Regional; and no. 18, Agnus Dei, oil on canvas, 85.3 x 104.5 cm, signed and dated 1680, Irmandade de Nossa Senhora das Dores e Santa Ana dos Congregados.
paintings mentioned above, is also associated with the religious literature of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. The theme of the Agnus Dei greatly inspired the theologians of the Spanish Golden Age, and it appears in the work of contemporary writers and playwrights as frequently as it does in that of artists. These kinds of paintings were created to respond to the concerns of the period, and such a response was also offered by Calderón de la Barca (1600-1681) in his El Cordero de Isaías (“Isaiah’s Lamb”), in which he identiﬁed the dead lamb as Christ sacriﬁced on the Cross. Such mystical texts sought to arouse a pious devotion among Christians for the names or titles ascribed to the Messiah in the Bible. The name Cordero (lamb) meaning “meekness of character, innocence, purity of life and joyful fulﬁlment of sacriﬁce” was added in a posthumous edition of Fray Luis de León’s treatise De los nombres de Christo.11 These paintings by Zurbarán, then, would indeed be of the Mystic Lamb, conveyed as a sort of bodegón a lo divino (a still life ‘with a sacred meaning’, in the words of Emilio Orozco),12 later circulated through copies by the Portuguese painter Josefa de Óbidos (Seville, 1630-Óbidos, 1684), made gentler by the presence of ribbons and ﬂower garlands13 (Figs. 9 and 10). The felicitous rediscovery and painstaking conservation of this Lamb with its Legs Bound, a work of undeniable quality, is particularly interesting because it is Zurbarán’s ﬁrst version of the subject, stunningly realistic in the rendering of the woolly ﬂeece and the resigned expression of the little creature with its eyes shut. Only a great painter of animals could achieve such a masterpiece, and with such extraordinary evocative power. His phenomenal attention to the texture of the ivory-hued wool, the beautifullycurved horns, the hooves and even the little bit of cord, lends a truly impressive presence to this humble young Merino ram. Our picture differs most from the other versions in the dimensions of the canvas, which are considerably larger here, and especially in the curious off-centre compositional layout of the young sheep, whose muzzle almost touches the left edge of the picture space, while his tail is set against a sizeable dark space. In spite of the secularisation of our era, Zurbarán’s Lambs continue to startle us, thanks to the remarkable union of art, religion and poetry. This painting is one of the numerous examples of subjects that he created on his own – something that certainly suited the religious faith of his contemporaries, and explains why he was the dominant painter in Seville throughout the second quarter of the 1600s. Odile Delenda
113 Francisco de Zurbarán
Fig. 9 Josefa de Óbidos, Agnus Dei, Évora, Museu Regional Fig. 10 Josefa de Óbidos, Agnus Dei, Irmandade de Nossa Senhora das Dores e Santa Ana dos Congregados
Giuseppe Vermiglio Judith Beheading Holofernes A pledge of loyalty to Caravaggio Gianni Papi
Giuseppe Vermiglio Milan?, c. 1587 - Milan, documented to 1635
Giuseppe Vermiglio’s likely date of birth was c. 1587, in Milan. The ﬁrst known record of the painter is in Rome in 1604, when he was in the workshop of the Perugian painter Adriano Monteleone; in 1606 he was arrested for brawling, and in 1611 he was once again involved in a scufﬂe. In the following year he signed and dated the Incredulity of Saint Thomas, the altarpiece painted for the high altar of the Roman church of San Tommaso dei Cenci, commissioned by its parish priest, Onorato Rebaudi, the only secure point of chronological reference for his artistic activity in the Eternal City. It was probably in the years around 1610 that Vermiglio became acquainted with various works by Caravaggio housed in prestigious private collections (Giustiniani, Borghese, Mattei, Costa, Savelli, Barberini), drawing upon them for paintings strongly inspired by their iconography. Documents connecting the painter with Piero Guicciardini, Grand Duke Cosimo II de’ Medici’s ambassador in Rome, reveal that Vermiglio must also have been an art dealer (in this case, he was paid for the sale of some landscapes by Filippo Napoletano). 1619 marks the last known trace of the painter in Rome, when he was still resident in the Strada dei Bergamaschi, with someone only identiﬁed as “Hieronimo pittore”. On 27 April 1621 Vermiglio married Violante Zerbi, the daughter of a notary, in Milan. Chronology becomes a little more regular in this phase of his career, starting with the grand retablo with Stories of Saint Innocent for the Cathedral in Tortona, painted after 13 August 1621, when the saint’s relics were discovered. The Nativity and the Last Supper for the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Novara date from 1622. Two very signiﬁcant works were painted in 1625: the Funeral of Saint Thomas Becket now in Santa Maria della Passione in Milan and the Pietà with Saints Augustine and Ambrose for the church of San Carlo in Menaggio (and the following year saw the altarpiece with Saints Apollonia, Fermo and Agatha in the same church). Also from 1626, the great Christ and the Samaritan Woman which came to its present site, the Galleria Sabauda in Turin, from the church of the Canonici in Alessandria. The Saint Bruno in Ecstasy of 1627 is in the Certosa di Pavia, offering clear evidence of a professional relationship with the Carthusian Order and the Certosa itself, which led to numerous paintings still there today; among these is the Saint John the Baptist, retrieved by the artist (by now at the start of the 1630s) from his memory of Caravaggio’s Roman prototype in the Borghese Gallery. We do not know when Vermiglio died, nor can we guess; the last known document is from 11 November 1635 and regards payment by the Savoy court for a Prodigal Son.
118 Giuseppe Vermiglio
Judith Beheading Holofernes 1610/1615 Giuseppe Vermiglio
1 Vermiglio studies we relaunched with a fundamental article by M. Gregori, ‘Il Sacriﬁcio di Isacco: un inedito e considerazioni su una fase savoldesca del Caravaggio’, Artibus et historiae, 20, 1989, pp. 140-141, note 16, which used the study of style to establish an initial and substantial group of Caravaggesque works by the painter. This was followed by F. Frangi, ‘Giuseppe Vermiglio tra Caravaggio e Federico Borromeo’, in Studi di storia dell’arte in onore di Mina Gregori, Cinisello Balsamo, 1994, pp. 161-169; A. Morandotti, ‘Note brevi per Cerano animalista, Vermiglio pittore di ﬁgura e Carlo Francesco Nuvolone autore di ritratti’, in M. Gregori and M. Rosci, eds., Il Seicento lombardo, Turin 1996, pp. 65-84; M. Pulini, ‘A Giuseppe Vermiglio, pittore del ritorno’, Paradigma, 11, 1996, pp. 49-58; F. Cavalieri, ‘Giuseppe Vermiglio e il San Giovanni Borghese di Caravaggio’, Nuovi Studi, II, 3, 1997, pp. 53-57; M. C. Terzaghi, ‘Vermiglio all’Ambrosiana (in compagnia di Daniele Crespi)’, Nuovi Studi, II, 3, 1997, pp. 59-67; G. Crispo, ‘Giuseppe Vermiglio da Roma a Milano: il problema dei modelli’, Artes, 7, 1999, pp. 74-106; A. Morandotti, ‘Giuseppe Vermiglio, naturalista accademico e diligente’, in G. Romano, ed., Percorsi caravaggeschi tra Roma e Piemonte, Turin 1999, pp. 239271; M. C. Terzaghi, ‘“Quasi tutti li Pittori di Roma”: i Piemontesi’, in G. Romano, ed., Percorsi caravaggeschi tra Roma e Piemonte, Turin 1999, pp. 15-48; G. Papi, ‘Brevi note al Vermiglio caravaggesco’, Paragone, 51, 2000, pp. 26-37; M. C. Terzaghi, ‘Giuseppe Vermiglio lombardo e piemontese’, Paragone, 51, 2000, pp. 38-60; M. Pulini, San Matteo e l’angelo di Giuseppe Vermiglio, Siena, Amministrazione Provinciale 2001 (Quaderni del Sistema Musei Senesi: Quaderni storico artistici, 3); M. C. Terzaghi, ‘Giuseppe Vermiglio’, in A. Zuccari, ed., I Caravaggeschi. Percorsi e protagonisti, Milan 2010, II, pp. 751-763; M. Pavesi, ‘Un nuovo “San Giovanni Battista nel deserto” della fase caravaggesca di Giuseppe Vermiglio’, Arte Lombarda, 160, 2010 (2011), 3, pp. 14-19. The year 2000 saw the exhibition Giuseppe Vermiglio. Un pittore caravaggesco tra Roma e la Lombardia, in Campione d’Italia, with a
Fig. 1 Giuseppe Vermiglio, Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Rome, San Tommaso dei Cenci
catalogue edited by D. Pescarmona, Milan, containing essays by F. Frangi, A. Morandotti, D. Pescarmona and M. C. Terzaghi. 2 A. Bertolotti, Artisti subalpini a Roma nei secoli XV, XVI, XVII, Mantua 1884, pp. 167-169. 3 R. Longhi, ‘Ultimi studi sul Caravaggio e la sua cerchia’, Proporzioni, I, 1943, p. 30. 4 Terzaghi, 2000, cited in note 1, pp. 39, 51, note 14. 5 For these episodes see Bertolotti, 1884, cited in note 2, p. 168; and R. Bassani and F. Bellini, Caravaggio assassino, Roma, 1994, pp. 234-235 (with the last document, only referred to in 1994, fully transcribed in Terzaghi, 1999, cited in note 1, pp. 32-33). 6 Until Gregori’s decisive note of 1989, this was the artist’s only known painting; it was Longhi, 1943, cited in note 3, p. 30, who had ﬁrst assessed its quality and discovered the date 1612 and Vermiglio’s signature. This date remains the only point of reference for any of his paintings in Rome. 7 “in its better-preserved parts, with a boldness of impasto that even reminds one of Borgianni”: Longhi, 1943, cited in note 3, p. 30.
120 Giuseppe Vermiglio
In recent years, Giuseppe Vermiglio has been the object of numerous studies as well as a monographic exhibition in Campione d’Italia, an obvious sign of interest in a painter who still prompts discussion and whose work shows the most lively, immediate reactions to early Seicento painting in Rome.1 He must have had an extensive sojourn in the Eternal City, and is already securely documented there in 1604 (when he was in the workshop of the Perugian painter Adriano da Monteleone),2 and his return to Milan must have taken place between Easter 1619 (when he is still resident in Rome, in the parish of San Lorenzo in Lucina)3 and 27 April 1621, the date of his marriage, celebrated in the Milanese parish of Sant’Eufemia, to Violante Zerbi.4 That the painter was arrested and involved in brawls during the ﬁrst decade of the century suggests a life perfectly aligned with the ‘Caravaggesque’ climate of the time.5 He must certainly have been professionally active in those years, although his ﬁrst dated work only appears in 1612, the Incredulity of Saint Thomas which has remained to this day in the church of San Tommaso dei Cenci (Fig. 1) – the only known Roman altarpiece by Vermiglio, and perhaps the only one he painted there.6 In this work the Lombard painter demonstrates an expressive power worthy of the best artists in the close circle of Caravaggio. The purity of his inspiration can be read in the seen in the stark gesture of Christ, thrusting the hand of the incredulous Thomas into his wound, and in their potent dialogue of gazes – the Redeemer’s touched by sadness and that of the Apostle steeped in the shadow of doubt. The ﬂowing brushstrokes and the swift description of lights and shadows (note the passage of drapery wrapped around the ﬁgure of Christ, a play of conﬁdent brushstrokes) suggest an interest in Borgianni, already identiﬁed by Roberto Longhi;7 and the skilful carving of Christ’s body, a little roughhewn in its masterful plasticism, makes one think of Valentin, avant la lettre; and ﬁnally an evocation of Serodine in those compressed heads, hedged in, their gazes and gestures tying the ﬁgures together. But one can also sense a hint of Po Valley ancestry, which had been part of Caravaggio’s visual baggage two decades earlier, when he left Lombardy; I am thinking here especially of
Romanino, whose imprint seems to me to be recognisable not only in some of the facial features (the three on the right, for example, especially the one in the foreground, probably Saint Peter), but also in the ﬂuid, ﬂeeting deﬁnition of foreshortened faces, as in the Apostle (perhaps Saint John) turning to Christ on the extreme left. Vermiglio’s altarpiece was decidely avant-garde in 1612, and provides a most illuminating sign of the painter’s inclinations, already fully displayed here, as well as of the likely role he was playing in the context of Caravaggism. Although it is substantially reworked and realigned vertically, with full-length ﬁgures, this image depends on the prototype by Caravaggio formerly in the
Oil on canvas, 108 x 170 cm, 42.5 x 66.9 in
Palazzo Giustiniani and now in Potsdam. Already when Longhi ﬁrst published the painting, discovering its signature and date, this signalled a connection with the iconographies employed by Caravaggio – a signal that was to remain constant throughout Vermiglio’s Roman period, to the extent that one should consider the painter as a sort of populariser and modiﬁer, not to mention devoted and enthusiastic follower of Caravaggio’s invention. Time has revealed countless examples of this outlook, and indeed it now stands as the most idiosyncratic and interesting aspect of Vermiglio, and a somewhat mysterious one, given the fact that he must have had direct access to the locations housing Caravaggio’s original canvases.
121 Giuseppe Vermiglio
A new and extraordinary work, unpublished and unexpected, which I have been able to attribute directly to Giuseppe Vermiglio, the painting before us may be the strongest proof that he did indeed tend to regenerate Caravaggio’s great prototypes, like no other painter of the Roman Caravaggesque circle. It is truly surprising that this artistic penchant – so macroscopically documented, as works gradually emerge (and this latest one offers highly signiﬁcant evidence, not just for the beauty of the outcome but for the importance of the prototype) – left no trace among the biographers, especially with someone as attentive as Giovanni Baglione, who cannot have been unaware of such an important sequence of derivations, most of them surely executed in Rome before 1620, the year in which Vermiglio must have been heading back to Milan, as we have said. It is almost superﬂuous to underline that this Judith Beheading Holofernes, in superb condition and with its original canvas, is a re-visitation – with some personal touches of disloyalty (but the compositional scheme remains) – of Caravaggio’s original composition painted for Ottavio Costa, now housed in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Palazzo Barberini, Rome (Fig. 2). The disloyalties are numerous (but as with other such paintings of his, always set within the context of devoted loyalty), and they make the picture – also because of Vermiglio’s unmistakable stylistic qualities – the work of a deﬁnitively ‘Caravaggesque’ artist, in the true sense of the term: an individual, not a copyist, but an artist who asserts his connection with the great Lombard master, openly manifesting it, and not straying from it in any way. Now that we can consider a whole sequence of works with this orientation, we will have to agree that Vermiglio can justly be dubbed ‘Caravaggesque’, a term often abused when applied to far more ‘disloyal’ artists. Returning to the liberties Vermiglio took with respect to the original text, we may note the difference in Judith’s gesture, captured at the moment she is about to strike Holofernes’ neck with her sword for the second time (whereas Caravaggio’s depiction is of the moment the head is actually being severed), just as there is a very different foreshortening of Holofernes’ body under the blanket. As for the red fabric in the Costa canvas, it is here modiﬁed into two drapes, parted to either side of the bed. Also quite different is the ﬁgure of the maidservant, undoubtedly representing Vermiglio’s most original contribution to the scene: a startling insertion effected by the troubling presence of an old widow dressed completely in black, including the veil that covers the nape of her neck – a ﬁgure with a determined, cruel gaze, her sunburned skin contrasting with that of the pale Biblical heroine, and her hands strong and bony as she grasps the sack which will soon contain the Assyrian general’s head. This last element is another addition by Vermiglio, and the placement of the old woman is different too, as she plays more of a leading role with respect
124 Giuseppe Vermiglio
Fig. 2 Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio, Judith Beheading Holofernes, Rome, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini
8 Most of these versions of the Sacriﬁce of Isaac (and some not mentioned here) were identiﬁed in the pioneering article by Gregori 1989, cited in note 1, pp. 140-141, note 16; for a subsequent complete listing and relevant literature, see A. Morandotti, ‘Gli anni romani di Giuseppe Vermiglio’, in Giuseppe Vermiglio 2000, cited in note 1, pp. 41-56. 9 Terzaghi, 2000, cited in note 1, ﬁg. 33; Damiani Cabrini, in Giuseppe Vermiglio 2000, cited in note 1, p. 86.
to Caravaggio’s scene. The aquiline, rapacious-looking ﬁgure of the servant really is one of the most beautiful passages of Vermiglio’s entire ﬁgurative repertoire, an example of the kind of naturalism that must have been based on a real person. In order to understand how signiﬁcant a phenomenon this is within his oeuvre, we should review the subjects painted by Caravaggio that were taken up by Vermiglio and treated to iconographic adjustments of the kind we have noted in the Judith; the painter thus achieved a sort of transposition, using the original as a starting-point (and deliberately manifesting as much) but at the same time conveying a personal interpretation of it, with a number of details altered. The Barberini Sacriﬁce of Isaac now in the Ufﬁzi is probably the work that Vermiglio drew from on the largest number of occasions, in a conspicuous series of derivations: among these we should at least make mention of that in the collection of the Cassa di Risparmio in Cesena; the one in the Rapp collection in Stockholm, later in the Koelliker collection (Fig. 3); the one in a private collection, formerly with the Compagnia di Belle Arti in Milan; the one in the Palazzo Bianco, Genoa; the one formerly in Florence, with Marcello Guidi, included in the Florentine Biennale Antiquaria in 1989; the one formerly in the Peloso collection in Verona; and ﬁnally the painting that was auctioned by Finarte in 1989 and purchased by the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco in Milan8 (Fig. 4). As for one of the last pictures painted by Caravaggio in Naples, the Denial of Saint Peter now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, we know of two occasions on which this was revisited by our artist: one whose whereabouts are unknown, published by Terzaghi in 2000 (Fig. 5); the other privately-owned in Lugano, and exhibited in the Campione show.9 Now we know with certainty that at least from 3 May 1613 Caravaggio’s canvas was in Rome, received by Guido Reni in exchange for a debt he was owed;
125 Giuseppe Vermiglio
Fig. 3 Giuseppe Vermiglio, Sacriﬁce of Isaac, whereabouts unknown Fig. 4 Giuseppe Vermiglio, Sacriﬁce of Isaac, Milan, Museo di Castello Sforzesco
Fig. 5 Giuseppe Vermiglio, Denial of Saint Peter, whereabouts unknown
10 M. Nicolaci and R. Gandolﬁ, ‘Il Caravaggio di Guido Reni: la Negazione di Pietro tra relazioni artistiche e operazioni ﬁnanziarie’, Storia dell’arte, 130, 2011, pp. 41-64; L. Testa, ‘Presenze caravaggesche nella collezione Savelli’, Storia dell’arte, 93-94, 1998, pp. 348-352. 11 Cavalieri, 1997, cited in note 1, pp. 53-57; G. Giacomelli Vedovello, in B. Fabjan and P. C. Marani, eds., Il Museo della Certosa di Pavia. Catalogo Generale, Florence 1992, pp. 193194, 196. 12 Papi, 2000, cited in note 1, p. 34, ﬁg. 25. 13 Frangi, 1994, cited in note 1, p. 165; Morandotti, 1999, cited in note 1, p. 265, note 144; Damiani Cabrini, in Giuseppe Vermiglio 2000, cited in note 1, p. 120. 14 Papi, 2000, cited in note 1, pp. 32-33, ﬁg. 23. 15 Frangi, 1994, cited in note 1, pp. 162-163, ﬁg. 1. 16 Papi, 2000, cited in note 1,, p. 33, ﬁg. 24.
it then passed to the Savelli, in whose collection it was already present by 1624.10 Caravaggio’s Borghese Saint John the Baptist, which entered Cardinal Scipione’s collection in 1611, was cited at least twice by Vermiglio, once in the painting now in Milan (Istituzioni Pubbliche di Assistenza e Beneﬁcenza) and again in the canvas housed in Museum at the Certosa di Pavia, the latter certainly carried out in Lombardy, with the artist immersed in recollecting the Roman composition.11 The Saint John the Baptist at the Spring (of which there exist several versions with hotly-debated attributions to Caravaggio) is cited by Vermiglio in the canvas I attributed to him in the National Gallery in London12 (Fig. 6). The David with the Head of Goliath painted by Caravaggio for Scipione Borghese in 1606 was the object of at least two interpretations, the ﬁrst in three versions (all in private collections), with the hero raising Goliath’s head to the level of his shoulder,13 and the second with the head displayed at lower right, resting on a surface, in an unknown location.14 A painting dependent on the Giustiniani Crowning with Thorns is Vermiglio’s canvas of this subject now in the Palazzo Altieri in Rome15 (Fig. 7). Finally, the Mattei Arrest of Christ by Caravaggio is the evident source of inspiration for the picture whose authorship I gave to Vermiglio in 2000; it had passed through Sotheby’s New York on 17 January 1992 as Tournier16 (Fig. 8). There remains an intriguing question, which scholars will have to address increasingly closely in the future, and which concerns the opportunities the painter had to calmly gain access to the places where Caravaggio’s works were housed, so he could study them. We should ask ourselves what credentials Vermiglio had for carrying out his fascinating revival of Caravaggio’s prototypes, and therefore what relationships or friendships he might have had that could facilitate such access – because what really strikes one is the group of powerful ﬁgures whose collections he was introduced to, ranging from Scipione Borghese to Maffeo Barberini, Benedetto and Vincenzo Giustiniani, and the Mattei and Savelli households; our new Judith adds Ottavio Costa to the list. All of this leads us to a substantial revision of the tendency (noticeable, for example, in the Campione exhibition catalogue) to assign a date for many of these kinds of paintings to Vermiglio’s Milanese period. It seems to me far more logical for works such as the one before us, and most of the derivations to which we have referred, to have been conceived during the years – not few in number – in which the painter could have had direct contact with the
126 Giuseppe Vermiglio
Fig. 6 Giuseppe Vermiglio, Saint John the Baptist at the Spring, London, The National Gallery Fig. 7 Giuseppe Vermiglio, Crowning with Thorns, Rome, Palazzo Altieri
prototypes by Caravaggio in Rome. Otherwise, if these really were painted in Lombardy, how could such revivals have happened? Through the power of memory and recollection? Entirely implausible, in my opinion. More likely, the experience he had had in interpreting Caravaggio’s originals in Rome enabled him to continue – almost automatically, when he had to address similar subjects – on the rare occasions that arose in Lombardy, as with the Saint John the Baptist in the Certosa di Pavia, mentioned above. But the majority of these derivations and reinterpretations must have been carried out in Rome by 1620. In conclusion, we must reiterate the beautiful condition of this Judith, which is still on its original canvas. We should also mention the many pentiments visible to the naked eye, just under the picture surface – a further sign of Vermiglio’s agitated compositional redrafting, which began with a prototypical image by Caravaggio and ultimately evolved into a new iconography in which his personal talent could be realized. Gianni Papi
Fig. 8 Giuseppe Vermiglio, Arrest of Christ, whereabouts unknown
Italian Paintings With an unpublished Judith Beheading Holofernes by Giuseppe Vermiglio
TEFAF 2015 Maastricht
Translation Raffaella Calamini (entries 1-2) Frank Dabell (entries 3-14) Realization De Stijl Art Publishing, Firenze © 2015 Grassi Studio New York ISBN 978-0-692-39589-9
Photos: Fig. 4 p. 17 “su concessione del Comune di Padova - Assessorato Cultura e Turismo”
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