Colnaghi Foundation Journal 02 - Page 15

Soldani’s attempt to market Filippo Baldinucci’s collection of paintings
Soldani’s attempt to market Filippo Baldinucci’s collection of paintings
Baldinucci in his Notizie claims ownership15 of some of
Dolci’s narrative pictures (storiette) and holy images on
a small scale (di piccola proporzione), among which are:
“a pair of ovals with life-size heads of Saint Antoninus
as Archbishop of Florence in mitre and cope, with a
morse beautifully bejewelled with pearls and gems,
and Saint Philip Neri, with strong colours (colorita con
gran forza). These are in one lot, second in the List for
Sale (2-3).16 Alas, a pair of little pictures (quadretti: 73
x 43 cm) of Saint Francis and Saint George half-length,
further down on the List (46-47), is not at present
A painting which has, however, survived and which
obviously had a particular significance for Baldinucci
is the portrait of his wife as Peace (fig. 5), which he had
personally commissioned from Dolci, presumably to
celebrate their wedding in 1658:
Fig. 4 / Ludovico Cardi
Cigoli, Ecce Homo, 1607, oil
on canvas, 175 x 135 cm,
Florence, Palazzo Pitti.
Fig. 5 / Carlo Dolci, Caterina
degli Scolari (Signora Filippo
Baldinucci) as Peace, oil on
canvas, 57.5 x 31.2 cm, Private
Fig. 6 / Baldassare
Franceschini, called
Volterrano, Portrait of the
Blessed Antonio Baldinucci
(1665-1717), 1681 or earlier,
pastels, 43 x 38 cm, Florence,
Palazzo Pitti.
It should be noted that the dimensions given are “sightmeasurements” and probably include the frames, some
of which may have been quite substantial Baroque
ones: they are therefore very approximate, though
they suffice to rule out any painting whose surface
dimensions are larger.13 The confusingly haphazard
listing of pictures of various dates and schools points
to the inventory having been made on a room to room
basis (as is normally the case with such lists, in effect for
probate, even today). To help navigate through the lists,
therefore, the items have been numbered sequentially,
given in brackets.
The first item (1), an oval Ecce Homo by Cigoli, cannot be
found, though he painted several rectangular versions
(fig. 4). All are based on Correggio’s rendering of the
subject, now in London (National Gallery).14
But, beautiful beyond belief and
definitely one of the most meritorious
works that ever issued from the
brush of Dolci, is a half-length,
life-size, figure of Peace, which is
a portrait from life of Catherine
delli (sic) Scolari, [my] wife. She is
holding up with both hands a strip
of paper, on which may be read the
following words: “She has broken in
pieces the bow and the shield, the
sword and war.” She also holds in
her right hand an olive sprig. In this
painting a certain freshness of palette
is noticeable, along with a way of
finishing that is more masterly than
usual; so much so that she seems to be
done in the freest manner of the best
colourists. (Dolci) lets his authorship
be known just through his handling of
paint and the diligence of application
for which he was unique.18
The picture in the List for Sale (7) is described
only as Peace, holding an olive-branch, but without
any reference to a further, real identity for the
sitter. In her two monographs on the artist,
Francesca Baldassari mentions only one other
version of the subject, and it is in an oval, while –
implicitly and by default – the one on the market
was rectangular. Can Francesco Saverio really have
been ready to sell the portrait of his own mother,
his father’s beloved wife, simply as an Allegory
of Peace? It seems so, if only because it might
have made better money than an image of “Mrs
Baldinucci.” In any case, as things turned out,
along with most of the rest of the paintings, this
one was to remain on his hands.19
further down the first page simply as “two life-size
heads in pastels by Volterrano” (14) – also given a
passing mention in the Notizie under Volterrano, but
without names of the sitters 20 – can be identified, by
a process of elimination, as a delightful and rare one
depicting his younger brother Antonio (1665-1717)
(fig. 6), along with another, now lost, which one might
surmise was of a further sibling.21 Antonio became a
Jesuit Novice (which must have overjoyed his devout
father), on 19 April 1681 in Bernini’s church and
monastery of Sant’Andrea al Quirinale, Rome, and
led such an exemplary life before his premature
death in 1717 that he was immediately proclaimed
“Venerable,” though he had to wait nearly two
centuries before being beatified in 1893.
Furthermore, to confirm Francesco Saverio’s steely
determination to raise funds from his father’s
collection, it seems that one of two pastels listed
In complete contrast to the Christ-like appearance of
Antonio is that of another portrait by Volterrano (16111690), this time in oil, of a garrulous old retainer (fig. 7).


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