Offered by Galerie Thierry Matranga
Old paintings, religious artifacts, archeology
Sicilian School, Matteo Cristadoro 1657 - Oil on copper.
This painting, with its dual plasticity, is the remarkable work of a little-documented Italian painter whom we studied through nine articles in various publications and a trip to Sicily in order to enrich his biography and to examine his other paintings. We met with civil and religious authorities and traveled through the Palermo region in search of discoveries.
Although Italian, Cristadoro employs here a compositional scheme specific to the northern schools in the articulation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, even though he painted in the 1650s when Baroque art was triumphant throughout Italy. Instead of deploying a scene full of pathos in accordance with the Baroque taste for large and empathetic figures, he chooses to represent a crowd of small characters spread over several planes, in the forefront of which is the nativity with its procession of worshippers where the painter has represented himself scrutinizing the viewer. On the right, the Holy Family is isolated near an ancient ruin in which a stable is improvised, according to a scheme borrowed from the painters of the North, in the forefront of which is Albrecht Dürer. In the background, a whole city seems to be living and bustling, sometimes interested in the coming of the savior of humanity, sometimes indifferent. While some crowd to the right towards the stable, most of these small subjects are conversing, trading or hunting. Small as they are, these figures are indeed Italian in style, characterized by the search for beauty rather than naturalism. Finally, while most of the architecture in the composition is Italianate or antiquisite, the large building on the left is clearly inspired by Dutch civil architecture with its stepped gable roof.
This interpenetration of Nordic and Italian iconography leaves the researcher with a great deal of uncertainty. Why would a Sicilian artist compose like a Fleming? To this question, the art historian Vito Chiaramonte proposes an answer in the collective work Mirabile Artificio, Pittura religiosa in Sicilia dal XV al XIX secolo: "... This aspect of his figurative culture allows us to hypothesize that Cristadoro's training may have been with a Flemish master active in Sicily, such as Hyeronimus Gerards (1595 - 1648), or with a Sicilian who trained with a Fleming.
Our Adoration of the Magi is unambiguously signed and dated:
"SAC: D' MATTHEVS CHRISTADORO PINGEBAT/ANNO DOMINI 1657" followed by "P: D: PETRVS MARIA PIAGGIA A/ PAN/ F: F:" which can be transcribed "The priest Don Matteo Cristadoro painted it in 1657 for Peter Maria Piaggia in Palermo". Matteo Cristadoro is therefore a priest, he is registered as a canon in the cathedral of Agrigento, which gives him time to devote to painting. The patron Peter Maria Piaggia, a protégé of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, became Abbot Commander of the Abbey of San Martino delle Scale (St. Martin des Marches) in 1670.
To date, only two other works by Cristadoro are known and preserved in Sicily: the first is a large altar painting representing The Preaching of St. Francis Xavier signed and dated 1650 in the church of Santa Agata in Caltanissetta, and the second is an oil on copper, also signed and dated 1659, representing God the Father painting the Virgin in the monastery of San Martino delle Scale.
We have chosen to present the work in a rare 17th century Spanish or Southern Italian carved and gilded wood frame.
Dimensions : 64 x 102,5 cm (80 x 119 cm with the frame)
- Petrus Maria Piaggia (1597-1679), protégé of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, in 1657.
- He left Italy when the orders were abolished in 1866 and entered a private Spanish collection.
- Former collection of Luis Maria Aznar senator of the province of Santander between 1916-1923.
Our investigations will allow us to publish the first study of the known work painted by Matteo Cristadoro. The work will be published in Italian and French. Also, with our Sicilian interlocutors, we have discussed the future programming of an exhibition bringing together the three known works at the Monastery of San Martino on the one hand, and at the Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo (regional museum of Fine Arts) on the other. These efforts should make it possible to see the appearance of unpublished works preserved in private collections in order to expand the corpus of this talented Sicilian painter.
- V. Chiaramonte, tab III.4 , in M. Guttilla (ed.), Mirabile Artificio, religious painting in Sicily from the 15th to the 19th century, Palermo, Edizione Kàlos, 2006.
- Archivio storico siciliano, periodical publication of the Sicilian Society for the History of the Country, new series year XXXII. Original memoirs of Giovanni Meli, physician. Palermo 1907.
- Of original memoirs of Giovanni Meli, physician A. Lipari (ed.), L'Abbazia di San Martino delle Scale. History, Art, Environment, Proceedings of the Conference, Palermo 1990, p.45.
- G. Bongiovanni, tab 45, in MC Di Natale F. Messina Cicchetti (ed.), The Legacy of Angelo Sinisio. L'abbazia di San Martino delle Scale dal XIV al XX secolo, Luxograph Palermo 1997, pp.135.
- D. Malignaggi, scheda 25, in E. D'Amico ( edited by) La pittura nel nisseno dal XVI al XVIII secolo, exhibition catalog (Caltanissetta, April 29-June 28, 1998), Caltanissetta Palermo 2001, pp.164-165.
- G. Bellafiore, La civiltà artistica della Sicilia dalla preistoria ad oggi, edition F. Le Monnier, 1963, p. 374; (date of death).
- Caltanissetta nei tempi che furono e nei tempi che sono, Giovanni Mulè Bertòlo, Forni edition, 1970, p. 34; (S. Francesco Saverio)
- Dictionary of Sicilian Artists, Luigi Sarullo, Novecento publisher, 1993; (date of birth)
- C. Scarlata, Painting-Sculpture, minor arts. Dictionary of the artists present in Caltanissetta and the municipalities of its province, Lussografica Caltanissetta Ed. 1999, p 53.
- La matricola di San Martino delle Scale (Archives du monastère), vie de Pierre Maria Piaggia.