Colnaghi Foundation Journal 02 - Page 29

Soldani’s attempt to market Filippo Baldinucci’s collection of paintings
Soldani’s attempt to market Filippo Baldinucci’s collection of paintings
I noticed that Avvocato Baldinucci agreed on the above-mentioned price very readily, which
makes me wonder [about his veracity], because he said that he did not want to maintain
that the aforesaid pictures were all originals. I told him what I thought about this aspect, but
you should consider the matter carefully and if you decide to, you can remit all the money;
but as to the watches he told me to write and ask you to have them packed up without any
adornments, all the more so because they are ordinary ones.
I have also shown him the two gold medals that you wish to give for the picture by Tintoretto
or Cigoli, but because the intrinsic value of the gold is not as high as you told us (which I no
longer recall), I have not been able to persuade him for now to agree to the barter. But I hope
to stimulate him afresh, now that he is telling me that he wanted 10 Spanish doubloons for the
aforesaid painting. This sum is meant to be included in the total offer referred to above and so
if he does not want the medals you will have to turn them into cash.
Doc. 4
f. 69v [52], 15 March 1718
Excerpt from Soldani's reply to a letter from Zamboni received on 11 March.
As to Baldinucci’s painting, you will by now have heard from my letter how things have
been left, and now I shall see afresh if he wants to have the two gold medals, and I shall do
what I can on your behalf: if your brother could kindly pay me 90 thalers, I would be in a
better position to make the deal progress…
Doc. 5
f. 72r [55], 24 March 1718
Soldani reports the price secured for Zamboni’s English gold medals in
Florence, and refers to the sale of the Cigoli.
As I could get only around 19 scudi for the two gold medals of yours that I have, I resolved
to give them to Avvocato Baldinucci for 25 thalers, as you will see from the enclosed receipt.
Apart from the medals I had to give him another 4 thalers for the picture by Cigoli that I have
with me, and after I have had it packed I shall send it to Mr Fredoli so that he can send it off
to you at the earliest opportunity. I thought that this was the best way to proceed, for there was
no other way to dispose of the said medals to greater advantage. Their gold value was only 19
Florentine ducats and if you had to pay 10 Louis d’or at 22 zecchini each, it would have been
for you a greater loss. I hope to have served you as you would wish, and as is my duty. Now
you will face only some expenses at the customs that is unavoidable, as well as the cost of
the crate, duly sealed and of carriage to Livorno, which I will let you have a note about.
I trust that this little picture will please you and I hope with all my heart that it will turn
you a profit, though it seems to me rather dark and not highly finished and here you cannot
lament about me, because you have in hand a list of all the pictures, with their description
and measurements. These things should be examined closely and I have always written to
you with any doubts. This one is certainly an original and I believe that it is by Cigoli and as
such it is now yours.
Doc. 6
f. 73r [56], 20 March 1718
Excerpt from a letter in which Soldani sends Zamboni a formal, dated
receipt, made out to him by Baldinucci, and warns that doubts are mounting
about the authenticity of the paintings.
and put something else in with it; but I have not received the order for any bronzes and
so I am sending it on its own. In this connection I am telling you in all sincerity that the
Avvocato presses me continually to write to you that he is awaiting the completion of this
business, because he would like to dispose of them. He must have found Mr D. and his
brother and had a chat with them over this matter and he must have replied to them that he
did not want deceive in any respect. Wherefore, his haste makes me suspect that the pictures are not
originals, for I learned that he tried to get an attestation from several painters that they were originals but they
did not want to provide it, which makes me anxious (see the letters, in which I have always conveyed some
doubt) [my emphasis].
Suppose that you do take the pictures and that then they do not turn out to your satisfaction
or you cannot find a market for them to your liking, I would not want you to regret it on
any account of mine. But you should wait to complete the deal until after you have received
the picture by Cigoli, which is quite dark, and on this account you could make an excuse to
reply whatever your own prudence suggests: then, if you wanted to get out of the contract,
you would not be short of a fair and weighty pretext. When you write to me about this I
would like you to make the passage in the letter stand out clearly, so that I can show just the
relevant passage openly to Avvocato Baldinucci: better still, put it on a separate sheet. Tell
me frankly what you would like to do and then everything will go well.
Doc. 7
f. 83r [66], 12 May 1718
Excerpt from a further letter of Soldani referring to the sale and shipment of
the Cigoli.
I had feared that at the Tuscan customs you would have to pay quite a lot more on the
Cigoli picture, but I spent 32.10, apart from the expenses of making the crate, wrapping it
in waterproof material, and the transport to Livorno, all of which I have minutely noted
down to account for them to you in due course. (f.84r [67]) You will have heard once again
my thoughts about Mr Baldinucci’s paintings: he is trying desperately to get rid of them in
any way possible and I daresay that he has never had an opportunity to dispose of them,
less still an offer like the one you have made: so ponder your part of the bargain, for I would
not wish you to have anything to regret.
Doc. 8
f. 79v [62], undated, but content indicates its place in chronology of letters
Soldani replies to a long awaited reply from Zamboni.
Mr Baldinucci came to see me and told me that he had seen your brother and asked him
about you:
he told him that I had received your letters and so I confirmed the same. As he had accepted
the offer that you had made him for the pictures, he would have shortly received the watches
and other effects sufficient to make up the amount of money in the form agreed, as per what
he had read in the section of your letter. Mr Baldinucci is showing signs of pressure to reach
completion of the deal, as he says that he wants to do some other business on his own account.
As you will have learned from my letters, I sent the picture by Cigoli to Mr Cozzini some days
ago, so that he could consign it to Mr Fredoli, to address it to you. Yesterday I wrote again
to Cozzini to see if the painting had been sent: and if it was still in the hands of Mr Fredoli,
to try and get it back, saying that there was a mistake over the price and that it needs to be
reconsidered. It cannot be sent for some time and if he has it in his hand, Cozzini is to hang
on to it for some days and then re-consign it to Mr Mucotti…
is really keen on this bit of business, for I do not think that he has received any similar offer
for his paintings, even though he told me that he wanted to write on his own account, but
be careful to control things to your advantage, for he is only out to make a profit.
Doc. 10
f. 97r [80], 14 July 1718
Soldani sends a long bill to Zamboni, dating one item that is relevant here.
24 zecchini paid to Avvocato Baldinucci for the picture by Cigoli, over and above the two
gold medals that I have already received
This is explained by a simultaneous receipt (f. 98r [81]) that Soldani sends:
Two gold medals, one of the dead Queen and the other of the living King of England
[presumably Queen Anne and George I] and these have been given in [part]-payment to
Avvocato Baldinucci for the picture by Cigoli.
Doc. 11
f. 109v [92], 5 November 1718
On holiday at his country villa, Soldani writes reverting to the single painting
that Zamboni had so far acquired.
I had imagined that the little picture by Cigoli that you had received had been entirely to
your taste, and you will recall how many times I wrote to you on this aspect, in good time
for you to extricate yourself from the deal. Baldinucci still rates his pictures very highly and
does not want to maintain that they are originals, as you have heard many times before: if I
wrote to you with some pressure it was due to the pressing insinuations of Mr Baldinucci.
I suppose that he has had written or has himself written on his own account to you,
appearing every hour a thousand times, to dispose of the aforesaid pictures.
Doc. 12
f. 111r [94], 1 December 1718
Having returned to Florence, Soldani writes to Zamboni complaining of his
double-dealing and entreating Zamboni to conclude the matter.
With great embarrassment, I have communicated the passage in your letter concerning
the negotiation of the pictures with Baldinucci. He is very surprised at your way of doing
business, for while he was expecting to see the amount owed after a year had passed since
the contract had been concluded and agreed, he has seen the cards in his hand being
changed in the way that you write. He wanted to proceed to the question of sequestration of
goods or some other solution, but I managed to persuade him to send the two pictures that
had been asked for, as soon as he saw the watches on offer had arrived here, at the price that
they cost you. He had agreed several times with me to allow four months to elapse for the
remittance of the balance of the money, not just for the two pictures, but for the other ones
agreed upon, as you have pledged to. Furthermore, the wall-clock seems to him and to me
to be too dear and difficult to dispose of, but he is prepared to lower the price, for otherwise
he will have to get rid of it for less than he intends should go into his account. Please
bring this negotiation to a conclusion and keep to your word, which has been given and
confirmed so many times, for I no longer have any desire to go round to the said Baldinucci
who is bothering me continually over this matter, and with good reason.
Baldinucci does not want to hand any of them over until he has received the full price and
– as he has told you many times – he is delivering them for what they are, without intending
to maintain their authenticity as originals. The sum you are giving is not so small as not to
think it over really well.
Doc. 9
f. 92r [75], 7 July 1718
Soldani alludes to the eventual despatch of the Cigoli picture.
Doc. 13
f. 121r [104], 16 March 1719
Three months later, Soldani includes a passage about the Baldinucci affair in
a long letter, and on the back of the same sheet appends a lengthy post-script,
hoping to wash his hands of the ill-starred venture.
In all confidence, I have to advise you that – as regards the pictures of Mr Baldinucci – I
have put off sending you the one by Cigoli for a day or two, because I was wanting to wait
When the Cigoli picture arrives, you must decide what to do about Mr Baldinucci: I have
already told him that it is a while since I have received any letters from you, but I see that he
[24] Avvocato Baldinucci has spread a great rumour that he made a loss when he received
the gold medals and the 4 thalers extra for the picture by Cigoli, when you could have
satisfied yourself in advance, for you had them in your hands for many days. To offer him
now the bracket-clock for 70 Louis d’or will create thousands of difficulties and he will
want to give the picture that you like and not that one that pleases me. So I would like you
to employ someone more capable than I in this affair, so that you can be sure of looking
after your own interests: a few days ago I saw a copy of the picture that he says is by Titian
in the house of Mr Gabbiani, our premier painter, who told me that the original is on an
altarpiece in Venice, and that his and Baldinucci’s copies are smaller than the figure on the
said altarpiece and – being composed of more figures – must be reproductions after prints.
I asked him if he had seen the other pictures belonging to Baldinucci, and he said yes, and
that he thought them to be copies.
You had better satisfy your desires with something else, for I don’t want you to be fed up
with me, bearing in mind that he himself declares that Baldinucci himself is not insisting on
their originality, and I have not managed to find anyone who is prepared to back the idea
that they are not copies. I am talking to you with complete and sincere confidence, in order
that – as it involves such a good sum of money – you do not subsequently suffer a big loss:
and the fact that he is so keen to get rid of them gives me ever more grounds for suspicion.
So – in order that I shall not have any further worry on this, I beg you to make use of another
intermediary, a trustworthy and intelligent person, without letting them know what my attitude is [my
emphasis]. Please also deign to burn this letter so that it cannot be read by anybody, and
then do whatever you want.
Doc. 14
f. 129v [113], 28 June 1719
Soldani makes a passing reference the sale.
…Mr Baldinucci, believing that the deal is off, is not pestering me anymore;
Doc. 15
f. 131r-v [114] 27 July 1719
One month later Soldani writes of the deterioration of the matter.
Mr Gabbiani does not want on any account to guarantee that the said pictures are originals
and, having talked to Avvocato Baldinucci, it seems that it is now clear to him that you
want to get out of the undertaking and – although he shows signs of anger, as he is working
for his own ends – I did not fail to take your side in a heated fashion. If he writes to you,
you can reply with whatever propriety your conscience dictates, in order to halt the whole
business, as you seem to have indicated to me in your last letter.
Doc. 16
f. 135r [118]), 28 September 1719
Soldani makes final reference to the negotiation which has come to a definitive
Avvocato Baldinucci is not saying anything to me anymore and I think that he realises that it
was fair that you should have been comforted with a declaration that the pictures contracted
for were originals.


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