Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 43

The impact of Jan van Eyck’s lost Lomellini Triptych and his Genoese patrons
Albert Châtelet suggested an alternative scenario,
according to which Battista di Giorgio travelled
with the triptych to Naples and was forced to leave it
behind in the Castelnuovo in 1442 when he assisted
René’s escape from this city.51 The abandoned
masterpiece would have then fallen into the hands
of Alfonso when he took over town and castle. Given
René d’Anjou’s employment of several artists from
Flanders,52 this hypothesis provides, at first sight,
a valid alternative. But it is far from certain that
Van Eyck’s Lomellini Triptych was a portable work
intended for private devotion since the presence of
the donors on the exterior wings may indicate a more
public function.
It is not certain that the triptych came into Alfonso’s
possesion at the beginning of his reign in Naples.
Ferdinando Bologna has suggested that Facio would
not have seen the triptych much before he wrote De
Viris Illustribus in 1456; most recently Maria Galassi
has argued that Van Eyck’s work did not enter the
The impact of Jan van Eyck’s lost Lomellini Triptych and his Genoese patrons
king’s collection until after 1451. Her arguments
are chief ly linked to the reception of Van Eyck’s lost
masterpiece in Genoa and Naples.53 With the possible
exception of Colantonio’s Saint Jerome, to be discussed
below, there is indeed little evidence that the triptych
inf luenced artists in Naples prior to the reign of
Alfonso’s successor, Ferrante (1458-1494): around
1460 the Annunciation – on the outer wings, as in
the Dresden Triptych (fig. 7) – inspired Neapoliltan
illuminators, and around 1480 it was the model for
two altarpieces by Angiolillo Arcuccio (fig. 8).54 This
situation contrasts significantly with the immediate
artistic response that Jan van Eyck’s Saint George –
now lost as well – generated after its arrival in Naples
in June 1445.55
It must also be taken into consideration that Alfonso
did not reside in Naples permanently after 1442, but
occupied several residences throughout his Italian
kingdom, with an itinerant court. It is quite possible,
that he took the triptych with him even if it may not
Fig. 9 / Barthélémy d' Eyck, the
Prophet Isaiah (detail), (left
wing of the Aix Annunciation),
ca. 1443-1444, oil on panel,
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans
van Beuningen.
Fig. 10 / Barthélémy d' Eyck,
Annunciation (central panel
of the Aix Annunciation),
ca. 1443-1444, oil on panel,
church of Sainte MarieMadeleine, Aix-en-Provence.
Fig. 7 / Jan van Eyck,
Annunciation (outer wing
panels of the 'Dresdent
Triptych'), 1437, oil on panel,
Dresden, Gemäldegalerie
Alte Meister.
Fig. 8 / Angiolillo Arcuccio,
Annunciation, oil on
canvas, Church of the
Annunciation, Sant’Agata de
Goti, Beneveto.
Fig. 11 / Barthélémy d' Eyck,
the Prophet Jeremiah (right
wing of the Aix Annunciation),
ca. 1443-1444, oil on panel,
Brussels, Musées Royaux des
Fig. 12 / Barthélémy d 'Eyck,
the Prophet Isaiah (detail of
still life above Isaiah),
ca. 1443 -1444, oil on panel,
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, on
loan to Museum Boijmans van
Beuningen, Rotterdam (top left).
have been as small as the Giustiniani Triptych.56
If Facio is correct and the Lomellini Triptych was
kept in the king’s most private rooms, shown only
to select viewers, its composition would probably
not have been readily available to other artists.57
It should be kept in mind, too, that Facio’s text
most probably reflects the situation after 1449
when the king took up residence in the restored
The earliest work that incorporates inf luences
of the Lomellini Triptych is an altarpiece,
dismembered today, that presented at its centre an
Annunciation, f lanked by representations of Isaiah
and Jeremiah on the wings (figs. 9, 10 & 11). The
triptych was commissioned by Pierre Corpici, a
rich textile-merchant in Aix-en-Provence who
delivered draperies to the court of René d’Anjou.
Corpici made two testaments with instructions
for his grave in the cathedral at Aix-en-Provence.
In December 1442 he stated his wish to be buried
in front of an altar he was to fund near the right
entrance of the cathedral choir screen, whereas in
his second testament of July 1445 he stated that he
had provided an altarpiece that presumably served
as his epitaph.59 These dates provide the timeframe
within which the triptych was painted.
The altarpiece is attributed to the Master of the Aix
Annunciation whom most scholars identify with the
illuminator Barthélémy d’Eyck, who is recorded as
court painter of René d’Anjou in 1447.60 In addition
to the triptych’s general affinity with the Flemish
ars nova, some details link the work specifically
to the lost Lomellini Triptych. The illusionistic
presentation of books on the shelves above the heads
of Jeremiah and Isaiah are clearly conceived as
trompe-l’oeil (fig. 12) and recall Facio’s description
of Van Eyck’s Jerome: videatur introrsus recedere et totos
libros pandere.61 Barthélémy d’Eyck’s Annunciation also
shares its iconography with centre of the Lomellini


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