An Antonio Vaccaro Painting Purchased by the Musée Fabre

Andrea Vaccaro (1604-1670)
The Martyrdom of Saint Agatha, c. 1635-1640
Oil on canvas - 122 x 159 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Galerie G. Sarti

27/11/13 - Acquisition - Montpellier, Musée Fabre - The Musée Fabre in Montpellier is continuing its remarkable acquisitions policy with a recent purchase of a Caravaggesque work, just one year after adding a painting by Lionello Spada, another Caravaggio follower, to its collections (see news item of 7/5/12). This time it is a canvas by the Neapolitan, Andrea Vaccaro, sold by the Sarti Gallery in Paris.

The Martyrdom of Saint Agatha, from a French private collection, was unknown until its publication in the catalogue for the exhibition of Caravaggesque painters organized by the gallery last spring. Saint Agatha is represented a few moments before her martyrdom : the executioner is stepping forward holding the large scissors with which he will cut off her breasts. This composition, dating from 1635-1640, bears the mark of all the painters who influenced Vaccaro but he remains above all, a Caravaggesque due to the composition of realistic figures shown above the waist and a sharply contrasted lighting which draws the characters out of the shadows. We also see, in the more idealized figure of Agatha, that the artist paid special attention when looking at works by Guido Reni. This does not however keep Vaccaro from producing a very personal work which also fits perfectly into the Neapolitan painting of the period. We have here an example of an artistic work which is close to that of Massimo Stanzione.

While the French Ministry of Culture is drastically reducing allocations for acquisitions, thus setting a bad example for cities which, in turn, are also turning a blind eye to art, we can only congratulate Montpellier for continuing to actively support its museum by providing it with the needed financial means to make such beautiful purchases.

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Didier Rykner, mercredi 27 novembre 2013

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