A Pompeo Batoni Painting for Ottawa

16/3/12 - Acquisition - Ottawa, Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada - At the first Paris-Tableau Salon, the Galerie Canesso had presented a superb canvas by Pompeo Batoni, Vulcan in his Forge (ill. 1). The work immediately attracted the attention of Paul Lang, deputy director and chief curator for paintings at the Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, who has just concluded the purchase.

1. Pompeo Batoni (1708-1787)
Vulcan in his Forge, 1750
Oil on Canvas - 94.2 x 73.7 cm
Ottawa, Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada
Photo : Galerie Canesso

2. Pompeo Batoni (1708-1787)
Vulcan in his Forge, 1750
Red Chalk with white heightening - 20 x 16.5 cm
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Photo : D. R.

This work, painted in Rome in 1750, was prepared in a red chalk drawing held today at the Rijksmuseum (ill. 2), which presents a few variations. It was copied in 1755 by the Scottish artist, Allan Ramsay, also in red chalk (Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland), before being acquired by an Irishman. We know that Batoni had made a specialty of painting young English, Scottish or Irish nobles traveling through Europe, notably to Italy, on what was called the Grand Tour. In 1827, the painting was sold in Dublin at the posthumous auction of the Earl of Farnham’s estate [1].

The canvas, almost an academic nude, reveals a very Baroque force still in evidence due to the contorsion of the god’s torso. Also of note are the subtlety of the colors, with the varying shades of ochre and green notably the metallic hue of the anvil, barely disturbed by the patch of white drapery and the feeble reddish glow of the forge.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 19 mars 2012


[1] The information here is taken from Véronique Damian’s entry in the Galerie Canesso catalog published for the Paris-Tableau Salon.

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