Bibliography: Chiara Marin, Girolamo Forabosco, Verona, 2015, cat. n°9 p.123, fig.15 p.388.
In her entry devoted to this painting, Chiara Marin notices that the same sitter is portrayed in winter clothes on a painting in the Scarpa collection in Venice (Marin, op cit. cat. n° 13, fig.19), where it is paired to another female portrait (Marin, op cit. cat. n°14, fig.20). These two paintings, also oval shaped, are slightly larger than ours. If the identity of the sitter is unknown, the luxury of her clothes indicates she belongs to the aristocracy. It is possible that this portrait, of intimate tone, was destinated to the beloved one. The personality of Girolamo Forabosco, bachelor marrying at the age of 59 with an 18 youth, successful artist leaving his family in poverty at his death, is still obscure in many points, though he is one of the major Venitian 17th century painters, marrying the Titian tradition with the modern tendencies introduced by foreign artists living in Venice, such as Van Dyck and Strozzi, or by those who send works to Venice, such as Guercino. Our painting, of which the technique of oil on copper is quite rare for the artist, is of an extremely fine quality, and according to Chiara Marin, must be dated between1635 and 1640.
Pieter Quast is documented in The Hague, where he is member of the Saint Luke’s Guild, from 1634 to 1641, year of his definitive return to Amsterdam. He paints mainly genre scenes, merry companies of drinkers, smokers, or actors, but also beggars, without ever being vulgar. He also paints one figure pictures, half or full length, very often in green and beige tones. Our composition is known in several examples, slightly larger: Riksmuseum in Amsterdam, Italian trade (Caretto, Turin in 1995 ; these two versions bear initials) and another version with Lempertz in Cologne, (14 May 1994, n°449).
Born in Venice in 1613, Carpioni settles in Vicenza as soon as 1638. We know by him some portraits, allegories, religious paintings, and many pictures of bacchanals. His production is punctuated by some dated or documented paintings, which do not help us to see a stylistic evolution, as it seems Carpioni found his style very early and stick to it for his entire career. His Bacchanals with clear, acid and bitter colors create a new kind of paintings, sensual and warm, never vulgar, which evoke with irony and happiness the lost world of mythology.
After his training in Paris with Bon Boulogne, the young Santerre starts his career as a portraitist (including a portrait of Queen Marie Leczinska, now in Versailles), but it is with his fantasy pictures of women, of Dutch inspiration (women cooking, reading, sleeping, sewing) that he obtained great fame. The figures are often half-length, sometimes seen at a window frame, and emerge from a dark, sometimes artificially lit, background, influenced by Rembrandt, who was very fashionable in Paris those years of early eighteenth century. The young girl in our painting is copying an allegory of architecture, a bronze sculpture created by Giambologna. According to Mrs Claude Lesné (oral communication), author of the artist’s catalogue raisonné , our painting is a workshop production after a lost original, maybe by Santerre’s mistress Marguerite Blanchot (she entered the artist’s workshop circa 1692, and from model became assistant and the lover) who was reknowned an excellent copyist of her lover’s productions.
Francesco Solimena (1657-1747) e le Arti a Napoli, a cura di Nicola Spinosa, Rome 2018, pp .343-345, under n°135 and fig. 135b.2.
This painting is related to a fresco painted by Solimena in the last years of the seventeenth-century (he works at Montecassino from 1697 to 1708, with interruptions) for the Baptist chapel in the church of the Montecassino abbey, totally destroyed during the bombings of June 1944. For this composition, praised and copied by Fragonard during his Italian journey (2 and 3 June 1760 for Montecassino), there is an oil sketch in the abbey museum, a modello in the collections of the Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna, and a ricordo in a Swiss private collection. Professore Spinosa considers our painting as an autograph replica, with variants, testifying the success of the original composition (« Mentre questa monografia era in corso di stampa é comparsa, presso la Galerie Ratton-Ladrière a Parigi, un’altra replica autografa (51,5 x 66,5 ; cat .n. 135b .2) del Festino di Erode : presenta, rispetto alle altre redazioni qui illustrate, numerose varianti non di grande rilievo ed é opera sicuramente autografa di Solimena, a conferma del notevole successo che la composizione originaria ebbe presso vari commitenti dopo la sua realizzazione »).
These two reverse glass paintings, of a quite important size for the technique, are probably a collaboration of two artists, one specialised in flowers, the other in architecture. A datation early in the eighteenth century is quite obvious, but the nationality of the artists is less secure; the frames which seem originals might suggest a German origin.
In the eighteenth century, the reverse glass painting used since the Renaissance moves from small devotional pictures to large deorative (or portrait) paintings.
This beautiful and very decorative still life must be attributed to an eighteenth century neapolitan artist: it compares perfectly with a signed painting published by Luigi Salerno (La natura morta italiana 1560-1805, Rome 1984, fig.59.1, p.239): same way to spread fruits and vegetables in a very decorative way. Other paintings by this otherwise unknown artist always show the same scheme, with an open watermelon and a white and blue glazed terracotta vase.
A Giuseppe Lavagna is known for his still life paintings, preserved in Spain. We know by De Dominici, in his biographies of neapolitan artists, that he was a student of Andrea Belvedere, and died blind at the age of forty in 1724, but we ignore his relationship with Francesco.
The squacco heron, (Ardeola ralloides) is a migratory bird, widespread around the Mediterranean Sea, the Black sea, and Caspien Sea; it arrives there in May, and flies back to tropical Africa in August. It likes lakes swamps, estuaries, deltas and river shore with important vegetation. It eats mainly frogs, but appreciates insects and fish.
A long inscription at the back of the canvas tells us about the subject, taken from a the famous novel by Sophie Cottin published in 1805 « Mathilde ou mémoires tirés de l’histoire des croisades », which describes, with many episodes, the impetuous passion and pudic love between Mathilde, sister of Richard Brave Heart, and Malek-Adel, Saladin’s brother. We also learn that the final canvas (lost) was painted for a « Sig. Enghard americano », of whom we know nothing.
Cesare Mussini was born in Berlin, where his parents musicians were employed by the Prussian king. The family came back to Florence in 1818, and in 1820 Cesare enters the Accademia di belle Arti where he studies under Pietro Benvenuti, then the major local artist. In 1828 his painting Leonardo da Vinci expiring in the arms of François Ist (Florence, galleria d’arte moderna, palazzo Pitti) wins a prize that enables him to go to Rome (where he befriends with the French circle of Chateaubriand and Vernet, but also Mendelssohn) until 1832. Back in Florence, he paints lots of portraits for aristocratic and international clients, and teaches at the Accademia from 1834.
Nicolas-Charles-Victor Oudinot (Bar le Duc 1791- Paris 1863) was the eldest son of marshal Oudinot, one of Napoleon officers. He was himself general, and became the second Duke of Reggio at his father’s death in 1847. He led the 1849 italian expedition, entering Rome on the 3rd of July and taking castel Sant’Angelo on the 5th, which meant the end of the short-lived 1849 roman republic. On the 17 th July he handles back the city to Pope Pio IX who had been chased out by the roman revolution.
François-Frédéric Grobon studied in Lyon under Victor Orsel and Claudius Bonnefond, and then settled in Paris in 1863. He painted still-lives, portraits, religious and genre paintings, and also decorated porcelain. He there represents general Oudinot with Rome in the background. We ignore if there was a large-scale portrait.
Alexandre Bailly was in early twentieth century an important decorative artist, working essentially for theatres and operas, for the main parisian scenes, Comédie Française, Opéra and Opéra Comique, Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt, but also panoramas for the Expositions universelles, great decorations for public monuments ( Béziers arena) or the Compagnie des Wagons-Lits, but also private commissions.He worked with his step-father Marcel Jambon (1848-1908), who had founded his company in the 1890’es, and was awarded a gold medal at the 1900 exhibition. In the 1920’es, Jambon-Bailly works with the movie industry, making decorations for silent movies.
Together with this decorative activity, Alexandre Bailly was also an artist and exhibited at the Nationale des beaux Arts, in 1924 and 1932, mainly flower paintings, such as this one.