Offered by Galerie Tarantino
Antiquities, Old masters paintings and drawings
Att. to PIETRO PAOLO BONZI called The GOBBO DEI CARRACCI
or GOBBO dei FRUTTI
(Cortona, circa 1576- Rome, 1636)
and Giuseppe CESARI called IL CAVALIERE D'ARPINO
(Arpino, 1568 - Rome, 1640)
Landscape with Diana and her nymphs spied on by satyrs
Bibliography: Claude Mercier-Ythier and Marina Di Piazzi-Cohen, The Harpsichords
This painting is to be compared with a rather homogeneous group formerly wrongly attributed to Agostino Tassi, Claude Lorrain's first master, on the basis of an apocryphal monogram "AT" on the reverse of a painting in the Doria Pamphilij collection in Rome. Today, thanks to the work of Clovis Whitfield and Seymour Howard, these works have been restored to Pietro Paolo Bonzi, known as the Gobbo dei Carracci or Gobbo dei Frutti, so called because of his hump, the fact that he was trained in the circle of Annibale Carracci, and his activity as a still life painter.
Other works such as the Landscape with Nymphs and Satyrs at the Bath in the Patrizi Collection in Rome, Diana and Callisto in the Magnin Museum in Dijon, have also been returned to the Gobbo. Richard Feigen exhibited a typical Diana and Callisto on copper in Maastricht in 2008, whose figures had great affinities with those in our painting.
The painting of Nymphs bathing near a waterfall, in a wooded landscape attributed to Giacinto Giminiani, seems to us to be also close to the artist.
In Bonzi, the conception of the landscape of Carrascan origin takes into account the combined interpretations of Domenichino and Viola. However, the artist elaborates a personal style recognizable, thanks to different details constituting as many signatures. The horizon line, although lost in the misty, bluish atmosphere of the distance, is placed rather low in the composition, allowing the foliage of the majestic trees in the foreground to unfold against the light. Typical of the artist are these small strings of shrubs in a ball arranged on a horizontal line, and especially, these stumps or bare branches like thorns located at the base of the trees. The landscapes of the Gobbo are often inhabited by satyrs watching Diana at the bath, when the latter is not watching Callisto herself, these characters being generally arranged in horizontal friezes. The figures painted by Bonzi, sometimes holding draperies of rough design, as here above their heads, owe much to those of the Cavalier d'Arpin. This nature populated by birds, deer and dogs (probably allusions to the unfortunate Actaeon) is refreshed by streams and small waterfalls, lending itself to all mythological baths.
Bonzi's name was not entirely unknown to French collectors in the 17th century, since a painting by the artist that belonged to Louis XIV, representing The Peasants of Lycia Transformed into Frogs by Latona, now in the Louvre, had been in the royal inventory since 1662 under the correct attribution, and Cardinal Mazarin's inventory included many oil paintings under this name. Bonzi is also the author of figures in some of Paul Brill's landscape paintings: Diana and Callisto in the National Gallery in London and Diana discovering Callisto's pregnancy in the Louvre. Another Diana and Callisto, completely by his hand, is kept in the Pitti Palace in Florence and yet another of different composition is kept in the Magnin Museum in Dijon, very close to ours, notably by the grouping of the women and the almost identical little dog. We note in passing the artist's pronounced taste for this theme which constitutes an elegant pretext for the representation of dreamy landscapes. The figures have recently been attributed to the Cavalier d'Arpin, contemporary of Bonzi.
A native of Cortona like Pietro Berrettini (Peter of Cortona), it was probably Pietro Paolo who invited this young compatriot to join him in working on the decoration of the Mattei Palace around 1622.
The unusual support of our painting, a small harpsichord cover, typically Italian by the reduced width of the keyboard, is a rare document evoking the precious musical instruments whose decoration could sometimes be entrusted by a cultivated elite to the great fashionable painters. Most of these harpsichords were painted by anonymous, often mediocre, decorators, however, there are a few other rare examples of Italian harpsichord covers painted by masters such as Annibale Carracci, Luca Giordano, Andrea Vaccaro and Sebastiano Ricci and now Bonzi.
The scenes, often mythological, depicted on these luxurious instruments provided a visual setting for enjoyment, leaving the audience's imagination to do the rest, as the music played.
- Nature et idéal : Le paysage à Rome. 1600-1650, cat. exp. Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 09/03/2011-06/06/2011), Flammarion, 2011, p. 141, color, n° 30
- Stéphane Loire, "XVIIe siècle, XVIIIe siècle, XIXe siècle," in Élisabeth Foucart-Walter, (ed.), Catalogue des peintures italiennes du musée du Louvre. Catalog sommaire, [musée du Louvre, Département des peintures], Paris, Editions Gallimard/Musée du Louvre Editions, 2007, p. 129, ill. b&w
- Stéphane Loire, Peintures italiennes du XVIIe siècle du musée du Louvre : Florence, Gênes, Lombardie, Naples, Rome et Venise, Paris, Gallimard/Musée du Louvre Editions, 2006, p. 50-51, 495, 502, ill. coul.
- Arnauld Brejon de Lavergnée; Dominique Thiébaut (ed.), Catalogue sommaire illustré des peintures du musée du Louvre. II. Italie, Espagne, Allemagne, Grande-Bretagne et divers, Paris, R.M.N., 1981, p. 155, ill. b&w
- Teresa Pugliatti, "Pietro Paolo Bonzi paesista", Quaderni dell'Istituto di Storia dell'arte medievale e moderna. Facoltà di lettere e filosofia, Università di Messina, 1, 1975, pp. 15-23, pp. 16, 21, pl. V
Price : on request