Santi di Tito, Trevisani, Ribera, Three Paintings for the Metropolitan Museum

1. Santi di Tito (1536-1603)
The Virgin and Child with the Infant
Saint John the Baptist
, c. 1570/75
Oil on Panel - 103.8 x 85.7 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum

14/1/13 - Acquisitions - New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Of the major museums, the Metropolitan is no doubt the one with the most active acquisitons policy at the moment. We try to provide regular updates but it is sometimes hard to keep up with their pace. This is especially true for the drawings as dozens, even hundreds of sheets join the collections every year. We will soon return to the subject. Recently, this New York institution added three old master paintings, two Italians and one Spanish, though the last by an artist who spent most of his career in Italy, that is of course Ribera.

The first is by the Florentine, Santi di Tito (ill. 1), for whom the museum already owns two drawings (Saint Thomas Aquinas Presenting his Work to the Crucified Christ, added in 1984, and Two Male Studies, acquired in 2002) but no paintings until now.
This Florentine artist, who lived essentially in the 16th century, was among those from this period who worked in a style already different from Mannerism with a Realism which was to flourish in Bologna with the Carracci and their school. He was thus close to painters such as the Urbino native, Federico Barocci (almost exactly contemporaneous) or younger ones from the Tuscan school such as Cigoli and Jacopo da Empoli.
The marvelous painting acquired by the Metropolitan is not a newcomer to the museum, as it had been on deposit from a private collection (Roy Fischer, then Julius Fischer) since 2012 and was acquired directly [1]. Representing The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, it is still very influenced by the art of Andrea del Sarto and Bronzino. The refined colors are particularly remarkable (for instance the various shades of mauve) as is the elegant composition.

The second Italian painting dates from the 18th century as this is a Dead Christ Supported by Angels by Francesco Trevisani (ill. 2), acquired through Sotheby’s after it failed to sell at auction on 6 June 2012 in New York.
Having arrived in Rome from Venice around 1678, he became one of the foremost artists there after brilliantly decorating the chapel of the Crucifixion of San Silvestro in Capite in 1696. In the San Silvestro decor, he showed his familiarity with different models, blending his Venetian training with Caravaggism and the Bolognese influence, as well as that of Maratta. Christ in the Garden of Olives, on the right wall, is particularly representative of the evolution of Trevisani’s art. The canvas acquired by the Metropolitan, a later painting, is close to this last work in its pathos and luminist tendencies.
Here again, this is the first painting by the artist to join the museum collections which until now held just one drawing.

2. Francesco Trevisani (1656-1746)
Dead Christ Supported by Angels, c. 1710
Oil on Canvas - 130.8 x 97.2 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum

3. Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652)
Penitent Saint Peter, c. 1612-1613
Oil on Canvas - 161.9 x 114.3 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum

Ribera, on the other hand, was well represented but with a late canvas, painted in Naples, a Saint Catherine with Saint Anne and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, close to Massimo Stanzione. The painting acquired by the Metropolitan (ill. 3) resided in Rome during the first half of the 17th century at the residence of Cardinal Benedetto Monaldi Baldeschi and was acquired directly from the Monaldi Baldeschi family by the museum. This Penitent Saint Peter was painted in Rome around 1612-1613 and we cannot help but compare it to the canvas of the same subject by Juan Bautista Maíno recently acquired by the Louvre and which is contemporaneous. While Maíno shows the saint in profound introspection, thus closer to Caravaggio’s model, Ribera chose to represent him almost in ecstasy in a composition which is in fact already much more Baroque.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 15 janvier 2013


[1] The collector made a partial donation, the balance funded thanks to the Friends of European Painting.

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