Colnaghi Foundation Journal 02 - Page 18



18
Soldani’s attempt to market Filippo Baldinucci’s collection of paintings
Soldani’s attempt to market Filippo Baldinucci’s collection of paintings
Andrea died in 1530, but his wife survived him by forty
years, until 1570.26
The Del Sarto self-portrait was followed by three
portraits of heroic artists from the later sixteenth
century: those of the sculptors Giambologna 27 (fig. 9)
and his younger Franco-Flemish colleague Francavilla
(fig. 10), as well as of their fellow Northerner, a Dutch
painter colleague, Bijlevelt, who was known in Italy as
Giovanni Bilivert (1585-1644).
Of the portrait of Giambologna, Baldinucci wrote in
his Notizie:
In conclusion, I may say that a portrait of
Giambologna painted from life by the hand
of Bassano the Elder, a head and shoulders,
made – as is to be believed without a
shadow of doubt – when he was travelling
in Lombardy [sic, for the Veneto?], is
kept carefully among his most treasured
possessions by the present writer.28
Fig. 9 / Attributed to
Hans von Aachen, Portrait
of Giambologna, oil on
canvas, Douai Musee de la
Chartreuse.
Fig. 10 / Giambattista Paggi,
Pietro Francavilla, Sculptor
and Anatomist, Aged 42,
1589, oil on canvas, Brussels,
Private Collection.
Fig. 11 / Andrea Mantegna,
Saint Jerome in the
Wilderness, ca. 1449-1450,
oil on panel, 48 x 36 cm, São
Paulo, Museu de Arte.
This portrait may well be identical with one of similar
dimensions formerly owned by the sculptor himself
that was listed in his posthumous effects: “A portrait of
Mr Cavaliere Giambologna, similar [...i.e., about one
braccio (58 cm) high], with a simple walnut frame.”29
A date of 1589 or before – the same year incidentally
that Baldinucci’s portrait of Francavilla was signed
by Giambattista Paggi (1554-1627) (see below) – is
established through its use by Gijsbrecht van Veen to
produce a dated engraving in Venice, at the behest of
Jakob K(o)enig of Fischen.30 If, as has been argued, the
portrait is not by Bassano, but by Hans von Aachen, it
may have been painted in 1585, when he portrayed the
Grand Duke Francesco I wearing his newly awarded
Order of the Golden Fleece,31 as well as their colleague
Jacopo Bilivert; this would date the portrait to 1586,
though by then Aachen was back in Venice (see below).32
Baldinucci wrote in the Notizie more effusively of his
picture of Francavilla, because the painting has far
more incident and is more colourful (see fig. 10): 33
In the same year of 1589, when Giambattista
Paggi the celebrated Genoese painter
happened to be in Florence, who knew
(Francavilla) well by reputation, on account
of the beautiful works that he had made in
Genoa, he wanted to make his portrait in oil:
19
this he did with great confidence in a picture
of his head on a panel, as was the general
custom then. This portrait is said to have
come into the possession of Pietro Tacca,
who had been a fellow-pupil of his (under
Giambologna), and is today is owned by the
present writer. Francavilla is shown in the
act of looking at the viewer and is dressed
in an overcoat, opening with his left [sic, for
right] hand a book that is resting on a table
or some such thing. On the flat page of the
book that is revealed, the plan of a building
is to be seen, while on the opposite page that
is being lifted up are written the following
words: Petrus Francavillus belgius etat. 42. 1589.
In his left hand he is holding a small finished
model of a statue. There are also depicted
compasses, an inkstand, some medals, a
set-square, and a ruler, on which is written
Gio. Batista Paggi. Everything is imitated and
coloured wonderfully.
Baldinucci’s Portrait of the Painter Bilivert as a Youth, painted
by Bilivert’s master Cigoli (13), is mentioned in his Notizie
on the younger man,34 in which he dated his arrival as an
apprentice about 1590, when he was fourteen:
... because I myself, among other pictures by
the hand of notable artists, have a portrait
of him made when he was at the age of
fourteen: for the likeness shows him as a boy,
with a full face that was neither short nor
long, with tender and well-coloured skin,
and long fair hair, painted by the very hand
of his master Ludovico Cigoli.35
A life-size head of a girl by Cigoli, “not completely
finished but beautiful” (20), is inadequately described
to be identifiable.
Last of Baldinucci’s images of artists is a self-portrait by
Onorio Marinari (1627-1715), which he painted in 1709,
at the ripe old age of age of eighty-two – about twice the
average life-expectancy of the period. Much darkened
by age and neglect, this now hangs in the gallery of selfportraits in the Vasari Corridor of the Uffizi Gallery.36
Fortunately it was engraved two hundred years ago,
when it was in more legible condition.37
Turning to Baldinucci’s narrative paintings which, owing
to his personal predilections, were mostly of Christian
subjects, the earliest was one of several versions of Saint
Jerome by Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), perhaps, in view
of the wooden mount and dimensions specified in the
inventory entry, the one now in São Paulo, Brazil (fig. 11).38
Surprisingly, this work is undocumented prior to 1936
and, although the question of whether it should be
attributed to Mantegna or Zoppo has dominated
scholarship ever since, it seems now to have settled as
an autograph by the former; if it is his picture, this
would vindicate Baldinucci’s description, discernment,
and good taste, even in a “foreign” school. The
unusual degree of detail must have appealed to
Baldinucci, as well as the great artist’s name and the
fact that it was a perfect example of a distinctively
foreign and early school of painting, recalling the style
of the Florentine Donatello who had spent a decade in
Padua (from 1443-1453).
Important representatives of the High Renaissance in
Florence follow, including no fewer than three works
by Fra Bartolomeo (1472-1517): the first (43), Saint
Francis Embracing Saint Dominic, “A panel-painting over
87 cm high, with full-length figures by the hand of the
famous Friar of San Marco”, remains to be identified,
though presumably it would have resembled the fresco
of the subject once in the Ospizio della Maddalena at
Le Caldine near Florence (fig. 12).39

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