Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 32

Fig. 20. Roelandt Savery,
The Garden of Eden, 1626,
oil on panel, 80.5 x 137.6
cm, Berlin, Gemäldegalerie,
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Both the luxuriant grotto and sumptuous banquet of this
Reformation through its pictorial reassertion of theological
cabinet painting allude to actual northern European courts,
dogma. Drawing on the illusionistic effects achieved by Baroque
in an evocative overlap between mythology and history. The
artists like Savery and Francken, science and religion would be
careful depiction of oysters, ceremonial carafes, and natural
eventually reconciled under the sign of artistic virtuosity.
caves betrays the same taste for rarities and natural wonders
that was leading, in the same years, to the formation of the
As a whole, the works under consideration here shed light on the
richest cabinets of curiosities in Europe. Seventeenth-century
arts of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, making notable
collectors’ taste for cabinet paintings and other meraviglie reflects a
additions to the catalogues of individual masters and enriching our
desire for prestige and implied scientific erudition among patrons.
understanding of the patronage and collecting criteria for which
At the same time, accurate depictions of natural wonders also
they were conceived. While the long-established art historical
resonate with artists’ own celebration of the power of illusion.
narrative of the development of painting and sculpture in the
European tradition has tended to isolate works within local schools
Roelandt Savery’s Floral Still Life (1624, cat. no. 24), conceived in
or centres of production and follow a Vasarian bias for Italian art,
the milieu of Emperor Rudolf II’s court in Prague (the realm of
recent scholarship has encouraged a broader view which takes into
curiosities par excellence) emphatically stages the artist’s power of
account the circuits of movement of artists, patrons, and indeed
illusion. As in his Garden of Eden (fig. 20), a version of which was
works of art themselves. The paintings and sculptures included
sold by Colnaghi in 1995, aerial perspective leads the viewer’s
in this catalogue offer such a wider perspective and illustrate the
eyes to linger on botanically-exact flowers and foliage, lizards and
powerful interplay that existed between the cultural backgrounds
insects, and the polished surface of veined marble and white stone
of patrons and artists. Many of the works considered here were
of the illusionistic niche. Returning to the start of this excursus, the
highly sought after and prized by the collectors who commissioned
illusionism developed in Italian and Flemish Renaissance painting
them. Their passage through Colnaghi adds another chapter to
evolved to serve rhetorical purposes in the context of the Catholic
the history of both the objects and the dealership.
I would like to express my profound gratitude to Piers Baker-Bates, Irene Brooke,
Jeremy Howard, Nicola Jennings, Anita Viola Sganzerla, and Alexandra Olivia
Tait for their insightful suggestions. I wish also to thank Sheila McTighe, whose
passion for Seicento art has shaped my own.
See Peter Cherry and Marcus B. Burke, Collections of Painting in Madrid, 16011755, 2 vols. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Trust, 1992), II, p. 7.
For a recent study of the impact of the mobility of artists in Renaissance Italy see
David Young Kim, The Traveling Artist in the Italian Renaissance: Geography, Mobility
and Style (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014).
See especially Paula Nuttall, From Flanders to Florence: The Impact of Netherlandish
Painting, 1400-1500 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004), and
Bernard Aikema and Beverly Brown, eds., Renaissance Venice and the North: Crosscurrents
in the Time of Dürer, Bellini, and Titian, exh. cat. (Venice: Palazzo Grassi, 1999).
For an overview of Spanish painting during in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries see Jonathan Brown, The Golden Age of Painting in Spain (New Haven and
London: Yale University Press, 1991).
Carmen García-Frías Checa in The Divine Morales, ed. Leticia Ruiz Gómez, exh.
cat. (Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 2015), p. 104.
On the artist’s life, training and visual sources see Leticia Ruiz Gómez, “Luis de
Morales: Divine and Human,” in The Divine Morales, pp. 17-43.
A good deal of recent scholarship has been dedicated to the influence of
Sebastiano in Spain. See Fernando Benito, Sebastiano del Piombo y España, exh.
cat. (Madrid: Museo del Prado, 1995); Miguel Falomir, “Sebastiano e il gusto
spagnolo,” in Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547), exh. cat. (Rome: Palazzo Venezia,
2006), pp. 67-71; Piers Baker-Bates, Sebastiano del Piombo and the World of Spanish
Rome (Abingdon and New York, NY: Routledge, 2017); and Piers Baker-Bates,
“Sebastiano del Piombo: British Taste and the Making of Saints in Early
Modern Spain,” Colnaghi Studies Journal 2 (2018): pp. 28-45.
See Pedro Miguel Ibáñez Martínez, La huella de Leonardo en España, exh. cat.
(Madrid: Canal Isabel II, 2011), pp. 103-107.
Victor I. Stoichita, Visionary Experience in the Golden Age of Spanish Art (London:
Reaktion Books, 1995), p. 199. On this iconography, see also José Manuel Cruz
Valdovinos, “A rediscovered painting of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception by
Alonso Cano,” Colnaghi Studies Journal 1 (2017): pp. 74-85.
Gabriele Paleotti, Discorso sopra le immagini sacre e profane (Bologna: Alessandro
Bonacci, 1582), I, XIX, p. 209, drew a fundamental distinction between puro
artefice and artefice cristiano. For a broader discussion of painters’ use of rhetorical
devises, see Renssellaer W. Lee, “Ut Pictura Poesis: The Humanist Theory of
Painting,” The Art Bulletin 22 (1940): pp. 197-269.
Xavier Bray, The Sacred Made Real, exh. cat. (London: The National Gallery, 2010).
See Rosario Coppel and Nicola Jennings, Alonso Berruguete, Renaissance Sculptor
(Madrid: Coll & Cortés, 2017), especially pp. 77-90.
On this patron, father of the previously cited Juan de Ribera, see Jonathan
Brown and Richard L. Kagan, “The Duke of Alcalá: His Collection and Its
Evolution,” The Art Bulletin 69 (1987): pp. 231-255.
Robert W. Gaston and Andrew M. Gáldy, “The Stranded Tomb: Cultural Allusions
in the Funeral Monument of Don PedroÁlvarez da Toledo, San Giacomo degli
Spagnoli, Naples,” in The Spanish Presence in Sixteenth-Century Italy, eds. Piers BakerBates and Miles Pattenden (New York and London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 154-173.
Rosario Coppel, Margarita Estella and Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, Leone and
Pompeo Leoni: Faith and Fame (Madrid: Coll & Cortés, 2013).
Notably, Leone assembled a great collection of bronzes, artworks, and books in
his Casa degli Omenoni in Milan. On Pompeo Leoni, see Kelley Helmstutler
Di Dio, Leone Leoni and the Status of the Artist at the End of the Renaissance (Farnham:
Ashgate, 2011). For Pompeo’s collection, see Gabriele Finaldi, “The Conversion of
St Paul and Other Works by Parmigianino in Pompeo Leoni’s Collection,” The
Burlington Magazine 136 (1994): pp. 110-112.
Colnaghi’s role in shaping a taste and a market for Seicento art, documented by
the sales of seventeenth-century paintings to North American museums in the
1960s and 1970s, was matched by Sir Denis Mahon’s scholarly and collecting
passion for Guercino. See Nicholas H. J. Hall, Colnaghi in America (New York:
Colnaghi, 1992), pp. 53-74; and Francis Russell, “Guercino in England,” in
Guercino in Britain. Paintings from British Collection, eds. Michael Helston and Denis
Mahon, exh. cat. (London: National Gallery, 1991), pp. 4-10.
A classic study on this topic is Avigdor W. G. Posèq, “Caravaggio and the
Antique,” Artibus et Historiae 11 (1990): pp. 147-167. On Caravaggio’s “staged”
pictures see Keith Christiansen, “Caravaggio and L’esempio davanti del naturale,”
The Art Bulletin 68 (1986): pp. 421-445.
Edward Payne, “Violence and Corporeality in the Art of Jusepe de Ribera” (PhD
diss., The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, 2013), p. 2. On
Ribera’s exquisite draftsmanship, see Gabriele Finaldi, Elena Cenalmor Bruquetas,
and Edward Payne, Jusepe de Ribera: The Drawings: Catalogue Raisonné, exh. cat.
(Madrid, Seville, and Dallas: Museo Nacional del Prado, Fundación Focus, and
Meadows Museum, 2016), particularly no. 21 (The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew,
pp. 98-99), no. 36 (Tytus, pp. 126-128), and no. 95 (Apollo and Marsyas, pp. 243-245).
See Hall, Colnaghi in America, pp. 72-73.
A display of wit and paragone, portraits on slate and copper was indebted to
Sebastiano del Piombo’s material innovation. On this topic, see Elena Calvillo,
“Un paragone con oro in su: Material Innovation, Invention and Sebastiano del
Piombo’s Papal Portraiture,” in Almost Eternal: Painting on Stone and Material
Innovation in Early Modern Europe, eds. Elena Calvillo and Piers Baker-Bates (Leiden
and Boston: Brill, forthcoming). Among sixteenth- and seventeenth-century
Florentine works sold by Colnaghi, were, for instance, the Madonna and Child by
Alessandro Allori, Cristofano’s father, and Carlo Dolci’s David with the Head of
Goliah, purchased by the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston in 1985.
On this portrait see Ottavio Leoni (1578-1630). Les portraits de Berlin, ed. Francesco
Solinas (Rome: De Luca, 2013), pp. 104-106.
This series has been the object of a fierce scholarly debate, summarized and
updated in Gianni Papi, “Le copie genovesi degli Apostoli di Ribera e una
conferma per l’Apostolado Cussida,” in Originali, repliche, copie. Uno sguardo diverso sui
grandi maestri, ed. Pietro Di Loreto (Rome: Ugo Bozzi, forthcoming).
Another Philosopher, identifiable with Aristotle, was sold by Colnaghi to the
Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2000.
The inventory of the Casa de Pilatos, compiled at the time of Don Fernando’s death
in 1637, includes several paintings by Ribera, including two depicting “philosofos”. See
Brown and Kagan, “The Duke of Alcala,” p. 249, no. III. 24, and p. 251, no. VI. 9.
On Poussin’s philosophical painting see Sheila McTighe, Nicolas Poussin’s Landscape
Allegories (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
For Testa’s drawing, formerly attributed to Ribera, and for a discussion of
Socrates’s presence in the artist’s imagery, see Stefan Albl and Angiola Canevari,
“Pietro Testa e Socrate,” in I Pittori del Dissenso. Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Andrea
de Leone, Pier Francesco Mola, Pietro Testa, Salvator Rosa, eds. Stefan Albl, Anita V.
Sganzerla, and Giulia M. Weston (Rome: Artemide, 2014), pp. 185-201.
On the artist’s manifold activity see Marta Rossetti, Angelo Caroselli 1585-1652,
pittore romano. Copista, pasticheur, restauratore e conoscitore (Rome: Campisano, 2016).
On Caroselli forger see Carlo Stefano Salerno, “Un autentico falso del Caroselli:
tra mercato artistico, restauro e plagio,” Studi Romani 60 (2012): pp. 203-220.
Colnaghi (New York, 1984) sold Caroselli’s extraordinary Lesbia Mourning her
Sparrow, an original depiction of a musical theme.
On this topic see, for instance, Krzysztof Pomian, Collectors and Curiosities: Paris and
Venice, 1500-1800, trans. Elizabeth Wiles-Portier (Cambridge and Cambridge,
MA: Polity Press and Basil Blackwell, 1990) and Paula Findlen, Possessing Nature:
Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1994).


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