Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 16



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New light on Cecco Bravo, a Medici painter of mythology and landscape
New light on Cecco Bravo, a Medici painter of mythology and landscape
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However, Bartolomeo’s young age at the time mitigates
against the idea: he was still studying and under the
tutelage of his mother Maddalena Macchiavelli, who had
been widowed just a year before. Bartolomeo’s account
books begin in the 1650s, and there are no inventories of
his collection to support this hypothesis. One attractive
theory would be that it was a gift to him from his dear
friend Vittoria della Rovere (1622-1694), who was the
same age and, like him, profoundly religious.
Considering Vittoria’s youthful age at the time Cecco
Bravo painted the work, it seems more likely that it
was commissioned by another member of the Medici
family, possibly Grand Duke Ferdinando himself, an
admirer of the artist and of the poet Coppola,20 who
was by then well established at the Medici court, as
demonstrated by his friendships with the scientist
Galileo Galilei and Cardinal Giovan Carlo de’ Medici,
a great lover of the theatre.21 In this case, the present
Wedding of Venus and Vulcan would have entered the
Corsini collection at a later date, either given by the
Medici or purchased by the family.
From October 1637 to June 1638, Cecco Bravo
executed the decoration of the mezzanine with an
Allegory of Prudence, Glory, and Time,18 and, in two
further phases, from autumn 1638 to the following
summer, he painted both of the large lunettes on the
west wall of the summer apartments on the ground
f loor (the present day Salone degli Argenti).
Fig. 5 / Cecco Bravo,
Landscape with a
Gentleman and Peasant,
Private Collection.
Fig. 6 / Stefano della Bella,
Landscape with Large Trees
and Figures, Florence,
Gabinetto Disegni e
Stampe degli Uffizi.
Given that the Wedding of Venus and Vulcan is recorded
in the inventories of the Corsini family from 1711
onwards, one may rightly ask if it was commissioned
from the artist by Marquis Bartolomeo di Filippo
Corsini (1622-1685),19 who was responsible for the
rebuilding of the palazzo on via di Parione and for
setting up the magnificent family picture gallery.
This newly rediscovered painting thus fills an
important gap among the numerous works by Cecco
Bravo that are recorded but now lost,22 and is also a
significant addition to the small number of works on
copper by the artist that have survived. Among these
is a later picture formerly with Hazlitt, Gooden and
Fox, London, a Tobias and the Angel, whose flickering,
scattered lighting and broken brushstrokes are typical
of works by the artist in the 1650s.23
To this extremely small group of extant works on
copper by Cecco can also now be added an exquisite
Landscape with a Gentleman and Peasant (fig. 5).24 Depicted
as the sun begins to set, the scene is enlivened by small
details delicately rendered with the tip of the brush.
The painting is in excellent condition, highlighting
the artist’s abilities in the genre, whether working on a
small panel or a mid-sized canvas.

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