A Guercino for the Kimbell Art Museum

5/5/10 – Acquisition – Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum – The American museum has just purchased its first painting by Guercino, Christ and the Woman of Samaria (ill. 1), dated 1619-1620, a rather early work by the Italian master. This period is characterized by a style close to Caravaggisme in its narrow close-ups of the composition and a certain realism but there is more than one source of light, resulting in contrasting effects which do not resemble the chiaroscuro of Caravaggio’s followers. After arriving in Rome, the artist then tended toward a more Classical manner, with light colours, thus more in the line of Guido Reni.

1. Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino (1591-1666)
Christ and the Woman of Samaria, c. 1619-1620
Oil on canvas - 97.2 x 124.8 cm
Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum
Photo : Kimbell Art Museum

2. Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino (1591-1666)
Christ and the Woman of Samaria, 1640
Oil on canvas - 116 x 156 cm
Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Photo : Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

An interesting comparison can be made here between the Kimbell’s latest acquisition, unpublished and never exhibited until now, with one from the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid [1] (ill. 2), dated 1640, revealing the same iconography and for which a preparatory drawing is held at the Louvre. Although based on the same subject and rendered in the same format, Guercino however produced two very different works.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 5 mai 2010


[1] The Musée National du Canada in Ottawa owns a signed replica done a bit later. Guercino painted this same theme again in 1647 for a painting held in Modena, Banca di San Geminiano e San Prospero (cf. David M. Stone, Guercino, Catalogo completo, 1991, p. 243).

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