Recent acquisitions by the Metropolitan Museum : Annibale Carracci and Gaetano Gandolfi


1. Annibale Carracci (1560-1609)
Saint John the Baptist Bearing Witness, c. 1610
Oil on copper - 54.3 x 43.5 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum

13/6/10 – Acquisitions – New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art – In 2009 the Metropolitan Museum received a small copper by Annibale Carracci representing (Saint John the Baptist Bearing Witness ill. 1) as a donation from Fabrizio Moretti and Adam Williams in tribute to Everett Fahy. The work had been sold at Sotheby’s London on 7 July 2005 for £176,000 to Adam Williams.

This painting has a prestigious provenance as it was in the collection belonging to the Duke of Orléans in Paris during the 18th century (it is described in exact detail in a 1727 inventory) before being sold in 1792 when it left for England. Until recently, critics tended to consider it as a workshop replica, perhaps by Francesco Albani, after a lost original by Annibale and which was known through an engraving, although the composition is very different ; in 1998 Denis Mahon published it as a signed Annibale Carracci, an attribution accepted by the Metropolitan Museum. The work probably dates from around 1600 when Annibale was in Rome painting the Palazzo Farnese.


2. Gaetano Gandolfi (1734-1802)
Head of a Bishop (Saint Gilles ?)
Oil on canvas - 46.7 x 37.8 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum

3. Gaetano Gandolfi (1734-1802)
The Holy Family Appearing to Saint Gilles, 1792
Detail of the head of saint Gilles
Oil on canvas - 300 x 200 cm
Bologne, church Sant’Egidio
Photo : All rights reserved


4. Gaetano Gandolfi (1734-1802)
The Holy Family Appearing to Saint Gilles, 1792
Oil on canvas - 300 x 200 cm
Bologne, church Sant’Egidio
Photo : All rights reserved

In early 2010, the Met also purchased another Bolognese painting, this time 18th century, by Gaetano Gandolfi, a Head of a Bishop (ill. 2), typical of character studies that painters at this time, both French and Italian, enjoyed producing. This painting had been auctioned at Aguttes’, at the Hôtel Drouot on 19 December 2008 (and “attributed to Gaetano Gandolfi”) where it sold for 24.000 € (without charges) to Jean-Luc Baroni, who turned it over to the museum in New York. Although this work has not yet been associated with an existing painting, we find many similarities with the head of Saint Gilles in The Holy Family Appearing to Saint Gilles of the church of Sant’Egidio in Bologna (ill. 3 and 4) for which it is perhaps a preparatory study.


Didier Rykner, dimanche 13 juin 2010



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