Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 142

The earlier provenance of the current picture is difficult to establish.
A work with a very similar composition is recorded in 1638 in the
collection of Ribera’s Roman patron, Vincenzo Giustiniani, where
it is paired with a Laughing Philosopher. However, the Giustiniani
picture included a still life of scientific instruments, including an
armillary sphere, on the foreground ledge, as recorded in a print
of 1812.12 The work in the collection of the Duc d’Orléans, on
the other hand, may have been part of the large purchase from
the Odescalchi collection. After the sale of the Orléans pictures,
it passed with the title the Dream of Caravaggio to the 3rd Marquess
of Lansdowne in 1807, but was not among the pictures included
in an inventory of the Lansdowne collection in 1897. Assuming
that the engravings are correct, the Lansdowne picture seems to
have included the additional motif of a skull on a book at the lower
left and so may have been an alternative version of our painting.
Alternatively, a number of the paintings from the Alcalá series
of Philosophers that were identified by Spinosa, and to which
our painting may have belonged, emerged from the collection of
Cardinal Fesch, subsequently entering Spanish collections. The
present picture, which was in a collection in Bilbao by 1950, may
have followed a similar route.
J eremy H oward
Fig. 19.3 Henri-Simon Thomassin (1654-1733), Portrait of Caravaggio, engraving on
heavy laid paper sheet (trimmed within plate mark), 22.8 x 13.5 cm, Washington,
National Gallery of Art.
Delphine Fitz Darby “Ribera and the Wise Men,” The Art Bulletin 44 (1962): pp.
Díaz Padrón, “Dos Grecos y un Jusepe Ribera inéditos,” pp. 318-320.
New York, Emile Wolf collection, see Sánchez and Spinosa, L’opera completa, no. 238.
Sánchez and Spinosa, L’opera completa, p. 320.
Elizabeth du Gué Trapier, Ribera (New York: Hispanic Society of America, 1952), fig. 155.
Roberto Longhi, “I Cinque sensi de Ribera,” Paragone 193 (1966): pp. 74-78.
Delphine Fitz Darby “The wise man with a looking-glass,” Art in America 36 (July):
1948, pp. 113-26; Darby, “Ribera and the Wise Men," pp. 279-307.
See Spinosa, Ribera 2006, nos. A82-95.
The copy of the current composition belonging to this set was sold at Christie’s,
London, 21 July 1972, lot 180.
Spinosa, Ribera 2006, nos. A82-95.
These include: Plato, Democritus, Pythagoras and the Philosophers in Tucson and Los Angeles.
“Due quadri simili con due mezze figure Una d’un Villano che ride, et tiene
una carta in mano scritta, con diversi liberi sopra una tavola L’altro d’uno che si
Specchia, e hà una sfera sopra la tavola dipinto in tela d’Imperatore,” see Silvia
Danesi Squarzina, ed., La collezione Giustiniani 3 vols. (Turin: Einaudi, 2003), I, p.
354, inv. no. 1638, no. 200, fig. 149.


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