Pietro Della Vecchia (Venice, 1603 - Vicenza, 8 September 1678)
Oil painting on canvas depicting Socrates teaching his pupils (Know thyself) datable around 1650-1660
Canvas dimensions: 90x70cm Frame dimensions: 106x86cm
Expertiese: Dr. Maria Pia Mannini
In 1984 Bernard Aikema demonstrated that the painter's real surname was Della Vecchia, while Pietro Muttoni, by which he was known from the 19th century onwards, was the result of a misinterpretation Luigi Lanzi made of a work by F. Bartoli (Le pitture, sculture ed architetture della città di Rovigo, 1793), in which a painting by the artist in Casa Muttoni in Rovigo is mentioned.
The peculiarity of the original surname has led some to interpret it throughout the 19th and 20th centuries as a nickname derived from Della Vecchia's activity as a restorer, as well as from his predisposition to replicate and copy paintings by artists of previous generations such as Giorgione.
He most likely studied under Alessandro Varotari, known as Padovanino, from whom he derived his interest in Venetian painting of the previous century, especially that of Titian and Giorgione.
Known for the skill with which he reproduced the style of the 16th-century Venetian masters (he was praised by Marco Boschini, his contemporary, as "simia di Zorzon", an imitator of Giorgione), he is also known for his grotesque genre painting, as well as for his work as a portrait painter. He also restored the Pala di Castelfranco.
As an official painter of the Republic of Venice, he was commissioned to make cartoons for the mosaics of St. Mark's Basilica, an activity that kept him busy from 1640 to 1673. Around 1670 he painted the canvas Moses and Aaron with the Pharaoh, now in La Spezia in the Museo civico Amedeo Lia, which reveals Caravaggio's influence. Also in Venice, he painted St. Anthony of Padua, his basilica and two minor conventual friars: Fathers Maurizio Cavalletti and Maurizio Graziani, religious of the Frari, who donated it in 1674, for the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. Near the Rialto in the church of San Lio, on the left side of the high altar you can admire a magnificent crucifixion. He married Clorinda Renieri, also a painter, daughter of the Flemish Nicolas Régnier, a painter and art dealer, with whom della Vecchia did business in the latter branch.
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