Guido Reni, Guercino, Matteo Rosselli and an Altar-Piece for SS. Annunziata in Arezzo

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  • Guido Reni, Guercino, Matteo Rosselli and an Altar-Piece for SS. Annunziata in ArezzoAuthor(s): David FranklinSource: The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 133, No. 1060 (Jul., 1991), pp. 446-449Published by: The Burlington Magazine Publications Ltd.Stable URL: .Accessed: 03/12/2014 21:15

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    19. Crucifixion, byJusepe de Ribera. 1618. 336 by 230 cm. (Collegiate Church of Osuna, near Seville).

    Duke took an interest and apparently commissioned the artist to paint something 'according to his fancy'.13 From a letter of 6th March 1618 we learn that Ribera had not yet begun the

    picture for the Grand Duke because he was otherwise engaged on a Crucifixion for the Vicereine: the important sentence runs as follows:

    Lo Spagniuolo e dattorno a un Crocifisso della S.a V Regina et

    compiuto dar& di mano a servir Sua Altezza Serenissima sperando che

    questo sar& molto puntuale perche si diletta del suo mestiero et e un huomo di molte buoneparte. 14

    The delay between Ribera's receiving the commission from Cosimo II, before 13th February 1618, and actually putting it in hand, towards the end of April, suggests that the Crucifixion he was painting for the Vicereine, the Duchess of Osuna, was both an important and a large picture, as the Osuna Crucifixion is. A Duke who lived far away could be made to wait if one was

    engaged on a work for a Duchess Vicereine who resided at a stone's throw! The reference is also interesting because it was not apparent until now that the Duchess acted as patron in her own right. The activities of her brother, the third Duke of

    Alcali, as patron (particularly of Ribera, between 1629 and 1631 when he was Viceroy of Naples) and collector are of course well-known.15

    The dating of the Osuna Crucifixion to the early months of 1618 brings it much closer in time to the paintings of the four saints in the Museum of the Collegiate Church, in the company of which it might not appear, at first sight, to sit altogether

    comfortably. However, the intensely naturalistic character of the work, the radical highlighting of areas of the flesh and the treatment of certain details such as Christ's loincloth and the

    weighty fall of St John's drapery, link it directly to the Car-

    avaggesque culture of the Osuna St Sebastian and such works as the Strasbourg St Peter and St Paul and the Pallavicini Martyrdom of St Bartholomew,16 which must belong to the same moment of transition in the artist's development.

    The early date of the Osuna Crucifixion provides us with just the kind of evidence that is needed to substantiate the claims made for the artist by Cosimo del Sera: 'a questo [pittore] non manca Bizzarria, e buone invenzioni, e per quanto mi dicano le persone intelligenti di questa Professione, a molte parte squisite',"17 and the well-known observation made by Lodovico Carracci at the end of 1618: 'se [quelpittore spagnuolo] e quello che dipinse un San Martino in Parma [. ..] bisogna

    star lesto che non diano la colonia al povero Lodovico Carracci'. 18

    13PARRONCHI, 0loc.cit. at note 10 above, p.40, letter to Cioli dated 13th February 1618. 14Ibid., p.40. This passage has been re-transcribed from the letter written by Del Sera to Cioli dated 6th March 1618 in ASF, Mediceo filza 1400. Parronchi had misread the passage as follows: 'Lo Spagniuolo e dattorno a un Crocifisso della S. Ufregiaz et compiuto [?] dara di mano a servir S.A.S. sperando che questo sara molto piu contento, perche si diletta del suo mestiero et e huomo di molte buone parte.' In another letter from Del Sera to Cioli dated 12th April 1618, (PARRONCHI: loc.cit., p.41l), it is stated that Ribera will have finished the picture for the Grand Duke by the end of May, but then we lose track of the commission. '-See for example D.F. DARBY: 'Ribera and the wise men', Art Bulletin, XLIV

    [1962], pp.279-307 and j. BROWN and R.L. KAGAN: 'The Duke of Alcala; his collection and its evolution', Art Bulletin, LXIX [1987], pp.231-55. '6SPINOSA and PEREZ SANCHEZ, op.Cit. at note 1 above, cat.nos.21, 13 and 18,

    pp.93-94. 17See note 11 above. 18G. BOTTARI and s. TICOZZI: Raccolta di lettere sulla pittura, scultura ed architettura, Milan [1822-25], 8 Vols., Vol.I [1822], p.289.

    Guido Reni, Guercino, Matteo Rosselli and an altar-piece for SS. Annunziata in Arezzo*


    A HITHERTO unpublished group of letters and notes bound in a volume of memorie of the Confraternity of SS. Annunziata in Arezzo sheds some light on regional taste in the early-seventeenth century and is unusually revealing about the processes by which an altar-piece was commissioned.' The documents relate to a

    bequest to the brotherhood of an Aretine physician, Bartolomeo di Christofano Spadacci, who had lived and worked in Florence.

    Along with his final testament and codicil, they include a long report addressed to the Confraternity by one of their members, Lionardo Accolti, from the deathbed of the benefactor in Florence. This recounts that Spadacci died on 15th July 1621, at the age of eighty-five.

    The earliest document relevant to the altar-piece for the

    *This article is based on a discovery made during the course of research on my dissertation on Rosso Fiorentino. I would like to thank Gino Corti for checking my transcriptions of the appended documents, and Sir Denis Mahon for reading the manuscript and making helpful suggestions. 'Archivio di Stato, Florence (hereafter ASF), Corporazioni Religiosi Soppressi, 20, SS. Annunziata in Arezzo, Vol.19, Filza Terza di Memorie della Venerabil

    Compagnia della SS. Annunziata d'Arezzo. The volume is unindexed and unpaginated.


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    Spadacci chapel is a letter written by the patron himself to the Confraternity in Arezzo on 12th February 1621 (see the Appendix below, document 1). He informed the brotherhood that he was content to allow them to select a painter, set the fee and decide when the work was to be undertaken. He stated that he did not intend to pay any money for the project prior to his death, and if it was commissioned before this, the Confraternity should pay for the work from its own funds. Apart from making his financial position clear, Spadacci offered only one suggestion of his own towards the project, and this concerned subject matter. He preferred to have represented the 'Conception of the most sacred Virgin, being the first of her mysteries, like the first chapel to the right'. The first altar to the liturgical right in SS. Annunziata was indeed dedicated to the Conception of the Virgin.2 The chapel, which was adjacent to the one designated for Spadacci, contained its original altar-piece by Niccol6 Soggi of the Adoration of the shepherds. It is not clear whether by the Conception and principal mystery of the Virgin, Spadacci meant the Annunci- ation or the Immaculate Conception. The first mystery of the Rosary was the Annunciation and this, perhaps, was the subject to which he referred. At the start of the letter, Spadacci wrote that he was told the brotherhood was anxious to employ 'qualche valente pittore' because 'the first picture should be good, as an example to the others'. This suggests that his altar-piece was considered special and intended to be part of a series, possibly covering all the mysteries of the Virgin. Whatever the Confra- ternity's intention at this stage, there is no evidence that this procedure was followed later.

    Following the death of the benefactor, the Confraternity sent an agent, Petroiacomo Bacci, not to Florence but to Rome to seek out a painter. On 1st July 1623, he reported his progress to the Confraternity in Arezzo, and his remarkable letter briefly discussing the relative merits of painters available in Rome survives with the Spadacci material (Appendix, document 2).3 Bacci mentions only two painters, Guido Reni and Guercino. Presumably he had sought them out as the most desirable candidates. He considered Guido the better of the two, but there were problems in obtaining a picture from him, not least because the artist was absent from Rome. He also alluded to Guido's high prices and the considerable time it would take to extract a painting from him.

    Because the outlook with Guido looked unpromising, Bacci then spoke to Guercino, who, he tells us incidentally, had finished the S. Petronilla altar-piece.4 Guercino offered to paint a whole figure for 120 scudi irrespective of the subject, and said that he could complete a work by the following Easter. Bacci states that a Guercino Annunciation would cost a total of three-hundred scudi. This sum must have been arrived at by computing for two full-length figures, of the Virgin and Gabriel, and one half- length God the Father. The reference provides important evidence that Guercino was charging by the figure prior to 1629, when his account book setting out the prezzifissi method was begun.5

    According to his account book, Guercino asked one hundred ducatoni for an entire figure, fifty or sixty for half a figure, and

    twenty or thirty for a head. Accepting that one ducatone d'argento equalled approximately one and one-quarter scudi of the kind that Guercino used in his accounts,6 then he would have received 125 scudi per figure and up to 75 scudi per half-length by 1629. Thus it appears that Guercino was asking only very slightly less for his efforts in 1623 than he did later. Bacci adds an interesting though disappointingly laconic piece of art criticism in his letter

    by stating that Guercino 'dipinge alquanto oscuro. Ha nondimeno nome de'primi.' Based on his assessment, Bacci concluded that he would prefer a Guido for five-hundred scudi to a Guercino for three-hundred. Presumably the former was an estimated price for a Reni Annunciation. Bacci finishes by informing the Confra-

    ternity that a certain Angelo Tenti in Bologna could intervene with Reni for a commission. The letter supports Pepper's state- ment that Guido elevated artists' prices in this period,7 and it is worth stressing the great variation in the fees of these painters according to their different reputations.

    An intriguing note attached to the letter states that an un- described painting by an unnamed artist conforms to the pre- scribed measurements, and would be completed in fifteen months at a price of five-hundred ducatoni. A contract drawing (termed a 'schizzo'), since removed from this volume, was apparently ap- pended to this page. To judge from the fees projected in Bacci's

    letter, this implies that Guido Reni was eventually approached; and that he entered into an informal agreement for the project and produced a compositional drawing. The subject is not

    given, but as the amount corresponds to that projected in the letter for an Annunciation, it can be assumed that this subject was ordered. The fee is approximately equal to the price of an Annunciation painted by Guido around 1620 for Fano.8

    For whatever reason, no such altar-piece was produced, and the Confraternity turned to the Florentine painter Matteo Rosselli.

    Perhaps Guido's fee was ultimately too high for the brother- hood. On 18th March 1626, we read the first of two letters written by Matteo Rosselli concerning an altar-piece of the Annunciation he had produced for the Spadacci chapel. These are the first autograph letters by this painter to be discovered.

    According to the earlier letter, Rosselli had already sent his Annunciation to Arezzo (see Appendix, document 3). Miscellaneous notes confirm that the picture was delivered around 15th March 1626.9 The purpose of the letter was to complain about incomplete payment. Rosselli had received only 125 of a projected fee of 180 scudi. In his protestations, the artist mentions his diligence and hard work in producing the altar-piece, and (earlier in the

    letter) the satisfaction of his previous clients. A notice dated five

    days later records the payment of the final fifty-five scudi for the

    painting. And a second letter from Rosselli to the Confraternity acknowledges the receipt of the money. (Appendix, document

    4). After thanking them profusely for sending the funds, Rosselli refers to an oval above the altar-piece that he has been told

    2The chapel of the Conception was conceded to Francesco Ricciardi on 1l1th April 1518, according to ASF, Compagnie Religiose Soppresse, Arezzo, A188, 2202/2, Libro di Partiti e Ricordi, 1491-1584, fol.30v: 'Concessione d'altra capella a Francesco d'Antonio Ricciardi con condizione / Ancora misoro a partito et conciesoro a Francesco d'Antonio di Riciardo, cittadino aretino, una capella possta in detta chiesa nella chrocie della detta capella magiore, propinqua alla capella del detto Guasspari e al'altare

    magiore, nel modo e obrighi come di sopra e dittitto [sc.detto] nella conciessione fatta a

    Guassparri di Francesco Spada[r]i, come apare contratto per mano di ser Lorenzo di Matteo Galli notaio e cancielieri della detta nosstra conpagnia fo vinto per 30 fave nere e una

    biancha; da intitularsi nella capapella [sic] della Conciesione.' 3F. CORADINI ('La chiesa monumentale della SS. Annunziata in Arezzo', Rivista

    d'Arte, XXXV [1960], p.122, note 54) notes in passing the existence of the letter. 4The document provides a terminus ante quem for Guercino's Burial and reception into heaven of S. Petronilla. It has been assumed that the altar-piece, which bears

    the date 1623, was completed by April 1623, when the painter was reimbursed for the ultramarine (see o. POLLAK: Die Kiinsttdtigkeit unter Urban VIII, II, Vienna [1931], pp.564-66). 5See L. SALERNO and D. MAHON: I Dipinti del Guercino, Rome [1988], p.13, for a discussion of Guercino's account book and his method of establishing prices by the figure. 6For the exchange rate from ducatoni to scudi I have depended on the discussion in D. MAHON: Studies in Seicento Art and Theory, London [1947], p.54. 7See S. PEPPER: Guido Reni, Oxford [1984], p.26. 8For the Fano Annunciation see, most recently, ibid., no.78. That altar-piece cost five hundred and fifty scudi. 9This date can be gleaned from the expenses incurred by Rutilio Guadagnoli, the person responsible for bringing the painting to Arezzo, found on the page following Rosselli's second letter.


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    about by the prior of the Confraternity and which required a God the Father. He offers to supply this work as well. His initial

    ignorance on this matter implies that he had never visited the site.

    Rosselli's Annunciation still exists, in situ, on its altar at the end of the left transept of SS. Annunziata in Arezzo (Fig.20); 10 it is on canvas, and was originally set in a gilt wood frame.1" Its

    present stone frame, bears no inscriptions but it does contain

    Spadacci's coat-of-arms consisting of two crossed swords sur- mounted by a star. The proposed oval God the Father mentioned in Rosselli's second letter exists above the main altar-piece and would appear to be by his hand.

    The Annunciation has not hitherto received much attention. In the only catalogue of Rosselli's paintings it is accepted with a

    question mark. This unnecessary element of doubt arose from Baldinucci's description of a Rosselli Annunciation in the church of the 'Madonna del Pianto' in Arezzo.12 The cataloguer did not realise that the two churches were one and the same. Baldinucci was indeed referring to this painting, but was alluding to the other name of SS. Annunziata, the Madonna delle Lacrime, derived from a miracle-working terracotta statue of the Virgin which in 1490 had been seen to cry in the Confraternity's oratory.'3 Rosselli's picture has also been dated too early, in 1620, on the basis of its place in Baldinucci's narrative, after an unrelated work by Rosselli produced for Volterra in 1620. From the evidence of these documents, the main altar-piece for the Spadacci chapel could have been commissioned no earlier than the sum- mer of 1623, and it was completed by the spring of 1626.

    'oSee F. FAINI: Matteo Rosselli Pittore, Tesi di Laurea, Universitai degli Studi di Firenze, Faccoltai di Lettere e Filosofia, 1965-66, Vol.II, The measure- ments are given there as 317 by 208 cm. The painting was exhibited in Arezzo in 1950 in the Mostra d'arte sacra della diocesi e della provincia dal sec. XI al XVIII, no.24, the catalogue of which records it as being signed and dated 1621. I can detect no trace of any signature, and the documentary evidence rules out such an early date. It was also pointed out there that the painting is based (in reverse) on Jacopo da Empoli's painting of the same subject in the Strozzi Chapel in Santa Trinita of 1614. "The list referred to in note 9 above, includes payments to the woodworker Stefano Giovanni Battista Rosadi for making 'le cornici alla tavola', and to a painter named Bartolomeo Sanlini for having gilded that frame. 12F. BALDINUCCI: Notizie dei Professori del Disegno da Cimabue in Qua . . ., ed. F. RANALLI, IV, Florence [ 1846], p.164: 'Per la chiesa della Madonna del Pianto in Arezzofece una tavola della Nunziata.' 13For the miracle of the weeping statue of the Virgin see D. DRAGONI: Antichit& a ragguardevolezza della venerabile Compagnia della SS. Annunziata . . ., Florence [ 1759], pp.23-30.


    Documents relating to the commission of an altar-piece of the Annunci- ation for the Spadacci chapel of SS. Annunziata, Arezzo (Florence, Archivio di Stato, Corporazioni Religiosi Soppressi, 20, SS. Annunziata in Arezzo. Vol.19, Filza Terza di Memorie della Veneravil Compagnia della SS. Annunziata

    d'Arezzo, unpaginated.)

    1. Letter of Bartolomeo Spadacci to the Confraternity of SS. Annunziata in Arezzo, Florence, 12th February 1621.

    Molto Illustri Signori, Mi vien detto che la Compagnia universalmente harebbe gusto, che la tavola

    che si deve fare nella mia cappella nella loro chiesa della Santissima Annuntiata fosse dipinta per mano di qualche valente pittore, et parendo che la prima pittura dovessi esser buona per esempio a gl'altri, io che non ho altra mira che di dar a loro gusto, et che si satisfaccino in tutto et per tutto, ho voluto co'questa dichiararli la mia volunta, che e, che piacendo alla Compagnia, me vivente far fare detta tavola mi contento si facci fare da loro a chi loro piaceri, con quella spesa che vorranno et quando piu1 li tornerd commodo, se bene nella pittura ci desidererei la Conceptione della Sacratissima Vergine, essendo il primo misterio di lei, come la prima cappella a man dritta, acci6 gl'altri volendo seguitare ne gl'altri misteri per ordine lo possino fare, essendo detta chiesa dedicata alla[sic] Sacratissimo Nome di Maria. Intendo ben questo, che per hora la spesa la devino far loro in tutto et per tutto, per rimborsarsi per doppo la mia vita nel ritardare le doti da darsi per quello che da loro sara? speso, perch6 io non posso in modo alcuno far detta spesa ne spendere pii\ cosa alcuna ne'sono obbligato.

    20. Annunciation, by Matteo Rosselli. 1623-26. 317 by 208 cm. (Spadacci chapel, SS. Annunziata, Arezzo).

    Accetteranno questa insegno d'ossequio et devotione verso loro, et Vostra

    Compagnia, stimando la quiete et satisfatione intera della Compagnia piiu d'ogn'altra cosa, all'oratione della quale con ogn'affetto mi raccomando. Di Firenze le 12 Febbraio 1620 [modern 1621]. Di Vostri Signori Molto Illustri Affettissimo per sempre Servitore Bartolomeo Spadacci

    2. Letter of Pietroiacomo Baccito Oratio Guazzesi in Arezzo, Rome 1st

    July 1623

    Illustre e Molto eccellente Signor Mio, Non ho prima potuto sodisfare a Vostra Signoria di risposta, perche il Signor

    Guido Reni Bolognese non era in Roma, e'l Quercino da Cento stava occupata in San Pietro, dove ha fatto una cappella di Santa Petronilla, assai bella.

    Hora ho parlato con questo da Cento, perche da Guido Reni non credo che si

    potesse ottenere quadro, se non con spesa grande e dopo lunghezza di tempo, se bene egli e il migliore.

    Parlando dunque con questo da Cento, mi ha detto che pretende 120 scudi

    per qualsivoglia figura intiera che sara nel quadro, e che non pu6 darlo finito insino a Pasqua di Resurrettione prossima futura. Io farei fare una Nuntiata, che con 300 scudi l'havremmo. De'fatti, non 6 manco cosa da parlarne. Se per6 volessero altra historia potranno determinare. Questo pittore dipinge alquanto oscuro. Ha nondimeno nome de'primi.

    Ame piacerebbe piu Guido per 500 che questo per 300. Potrebbono scrivere al Signor Angelo Tenti a Bologna, che esso farebbe il servitio. Star6 aspettando risolutione. E con questo mi scusi della tardanza che ne son degno, e resti con la

    pace del Signore di Roma. Di Roma il di primo di luglio 1623. Di Vostra

    Signoria Illustre e Molto eccellente Servo nel Signore Pietroiacomo Bacci

    Al Molto Illustre Signor mio Osservissimo il Signor Oratio Guazzesi, Arezzo


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    [on thefollowing page, apparently in a different hand:] La tavola confforme le misure mandate, si dara finita in mesi quindici.

    Facendoli il numero delle figure accenate nell qui incluso schizzo, la spesa seria di cinquecento ducatoni; il pittore fara la spesa di thela, thelaro et di azuro oltramarino che occoresi.

    3. Letter of Matteo Rosselli to the Confraternity in Arezzo, Florence 18th March 1626

    [margin] 1626 Spadacci

    Illustrissimo Signor e Padron Mio, Ho consegniata la tavola della Nuntiata che Vostra Signoria m'A fatta fare,

    al Signor Proveditore della Conpagnia Vostra, conforme che Vostra Signoria m' scritto, la quale spero verri ben conditionata, ch'6 fatto ogni diligentia in acomodarla, come anco 6 fatto ogni sforzo per farla bene; e per Dio gratia, per quanto sento da persone perite, 6 consequito el buon desiderio, ch'avevo di servirle bene. Sto con buona speranza sia per dar costA sodisfatione come n' a data qua universalmente a tutti. Dal Signor Francesco Guadagni, ho riceuto scudi settanta cinque per a buon conti di detta tavola, oltre li cinquanta riceuti a detto conto. Vostra Signoria mi dice per la sua, ch'io l'avisi quanto pretendo di detta tavola, per6 con Vostra Signoria verr6 strettamente a dirle quel ch'6o d'avere ma senza levare, ch'a da essere scudi cento ottanta almeno, e sappia Vostra Signoria che ci e vicino a venti scudi di spessa fra tella, telaio, e azurro oltramarino, quali cose // e costume chi fa fare pitture, dare tali cose. Per6o conforme che mi e stato pagato l'altre opere ch'6 fatte, non 6 aver manco che quello domando, per6 con mia spese di detta tela, e telaio, a azurro oltramarino, tutto scudi cento ottanta. Per6 potri Vostra Signoria con li fratelli della conpagnia proporla, o cosi agiustata, o come pi1i giudic[h]era dia sodisfatione. Basta che Vostra Signoria sia sicura, ch'io domando quello che mi si viene, perci6 star6 aspetando ogni sodisfatione, como son sicuro d'averne data con la diligentia, e

    A head of Christ by Guercino at Budapest*


    UNTIL recently the only picture in the Museum of Fine Arts at

    Budapest to be generally accepted as by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino, was the fine altar-piece of the Flagellation of Christ, painted in 1641 for the Beregani family of Vicenza, which was paid for in 1644 and later recorded by Boschini as

    being in the church of S. Biagio Nuovo of that city.' To this

    may now be added a Head of Christ crowned with thorns (Fig.21), formerly kept in the reserve collection as 'early seventeenth- century Bolognese'.2 This beautiful small picture on copper, which was probably painted about 1622, later belonged to the Esterhaizy family, whose magnificent collection of pictures was purchased by the Hungarian State in 1871 and now forms the nucleus of that of in the Museum of Fine Arts.3 Under-

    standably enough, it had always been thought to be by Guercino while in the possession of the Esterhaizy, and it was catalogued

    fatica durata. Fra tanto le prego dal Signore Dio somo bene e felicita'. Di Firenze, li 18 di Marzo 1625 [modern style 1626]

    Di Vostra Signoria Illustrissimo Affettissimo Servitore Matteo Rosselli

    [facing the verso of this letter:] Adi 23 di Marzo 1626

    Io Filippo Tinghi Maltese, mandato da messer Matteo Rosselli, ho ricivuto ducati cinquanta cinque di moneta per ogni resto e per l'intiero pagamento della tavola fatta dil detto per la compagnia della Santissima Nunciata d'Arezzo, a me contanti, in Arezzo, in casa il Signor Cavaliere Albergotti, cioe scudi 55.

    lo Filippo sopradetto di mano propria

    4. Letter of Matteo Rosselli to the Confraternity in Arezzo, Florence, 30th March 1626

    1626 Marzo Molto Illustre Signor Mio,

    Da Filippo Maltesa, 6 riceuto scudi 55 di moneta per resto della tavola, che 1'6 mandata, quale intendo arriv6 ben conditionata, e ch'a mandata, quale intendo arriv6 ben conditionata, e ch'a dato sodisfatione. Dio lodato e ringratiato ne sia, come anco ne ringratio le signor[i]e vostre ch'abbino gradito l'opera mia, e con tanta prontezza m'abbino mandato e danari, di che le resto obbligato; ed io quando mi favoriranno di valersi di me, le servir6 con ogni diligentia possibile. Mi dice Vostra Signoria che sopra la tavola ci e uno ovato, quale anno deliberato di farci un Dio Padre, il che stara bene, per6 facino fare el telaio e contrasegnino el disopra, e mandimelo, ch'io lo far6 quanto prima, e con diligentia, e sia sicura sarA di mio mano come son tutte l[e] cose che mando per mia, che sopra tutto stima la riputatione. Fra tanto le prego dal Signore Dio somma felicita, e con ogni affetto a me possibile l[e] fo reverentia e me l'ofero. Di Firenze, li 30 Marzo 1626.

    Di Vostra Signoria Molto Illustre obligatissimo servitore Matteso Rosselli

    as such in a description of the family's picture gallery.4 Although mentioned in the early catalogues of the Museum as by Guercino, for unknown reasons the picture was downgraded and, eventually, forgotten.5 Quite how Guercino's authorship came to be doubted remains one of the minor mysteries of twentieth-century art

    history:6 it was presumably a decision of the immensely thorough and conscientious former curator, Andor Pigler, to dismiss the traditional attribution, perhaps on account of the picture's small scale and unusual, copper support.

    The muted colours of the Head of Christ - the plum red of Christ's robe juxtaposed with the grey of the halo and the light ochres and pinks of the flesh tints - are typical of Guercino's

    pictures of around 1620 and shortly after. Furthermore, in type the head conforms well with other representations of Christ

    painted at about this time, for example that in the Capture of Christ in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, that in the In-

    credulity of St Thomas in the National Gallery, London, both of 1621, and especially that in Christ and the woman taken in adultery in the Dulwich Picture Gallery, also dateable about 1621.7

    Because Guercino is so well known for the great altar-pieces

    *I am grateful to Istvain Bark6czi, in whose company I came across the picture in the reserve collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, and who kindly provided me with the references cited in notes 2 to 4 below. My visit to Budapest in October 1989 as a European exchange student was sponsored by the British Council. ' See L. SALERNO: IDipinti del Guercino, Rome [1988], p.290, no.213 (reproduced) where it is incorrectly stated that M. BOSCHINI (Gioiellipittoreschi, Vicenza [1676]) records the picture as having been initially in the church of S. Bartolomeo; in fact, Boschini cites it as being in that of S. Biagio. See also M. T. DIRANI MISTRORIGO: La Chiesa . . . di San Biagio Nuovo, Vicenza [1988], pp.10, 32-37 and 61-62, and A. PIGLER: Katalog der Galerie, Alter Meister, Budapest [1967], I, p.297, no.4225, P.48. Oil on copper, 28.5 by 24 cm. It is listed as anonymous Bolognese in A. PIGLER: Orszdgos Szjpmuiviszeti Mizeum, A Regi Kiptdr Kataldgusa, Budapest [1954], I, p.65, under; and also in idem, op.cit. at note 1 above above, I, p.76, also under In both instances Pigler notes the older, traditional attribution to Guercino (see notes 3 to 6 below). On the back of the copper-plate is an inscription painted in brush in black which appears to read 'N.o 5/y l d 4 1/2'. This could perhaps be an inventory number followed by a price; it does not appear to me to be a date, as might at first seem. The picture has been cleaned at my suggestion and will be included in the forthcoming exhibition of paintings

    and drawings by Guercino to take place in Bologna in September of this year, organised by Sir Denis Mahon. 31t is first cited in the 1820 inventory of the Esterhizy collection, drawn up by Joseph Fisher, as item no.919 (see s. MELLER: Az Esterhdzy Kiptdr tdrtinete . Budapest [1915], p.233). 4z. ORM6s: A Herczeg Esterhdzy Kiptdr, Mi~tortinelmi Leirdsa, Pest [1864], p.115. The attribution of the picture to Guercino was accepted without question in most subsequent catalogues of the collection, for example, those of 1865-67, 1869, 1871 and 1873 (with the picture listed as in Room XIII, item 3), and in further check-lists of 1876, 1878-79, and 1881 (with the picture given at the same location).

    I51t is last mentioned as by Guercino in G. VON TE'REY: A Szgpmu"viszeti Mtuzeum Rigi Kiptdrdnak leird laistroma, Budapest [1906], p.399, no.485, and was omitted from the later editions of this catalogue of 1916, 1918 and 1924. 6Dislike for the picture is recorded by the first director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Ka'roly Pulszky (1881-96), who commented in a manuscript note to a copy of one of the collection catalogues, 'ohne begeisterung gemacht'; nonetheless he included the picture, as by Guercino, in his catalogue Az Orszdgos Kiptdr Leird Laistroma, Budapest [1888], p.96, no.485, suggesting that it was a study for a Christ carrying the Cross. 7See SALERNO, op.cit. at note 1 above, p.153, no.73, p.154, no.74, and p.155, no.75, respectively.


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    Article Contentsp. 446p. 447p. 448p. 449

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Burlington Magazine, Vol. 133, No. 1060 (Jul., 1991), pp. i-xxiv+427-488+i-iv+1-68Front Matter [pp. i-xxiv]EditorialUp to Raphael [pp. 427-428]

    Agucchi, Lodovico Carracci and the Monument to Cardinal Sega at Piacenza [pp. 429-433]Borromini and the Marchese di Castel Rodrigo [pp. 434-440]Shorter NoticesGuido Reni: New Documents for the Piet dei Mendicanti [pp. 441-445]The Patron and Date of Ribera's 'Crucifixion' at Osuna [pp. 445-446]Guido Reni, Guercino, Matteo Rosselli and an Altar-Piece for SS. Annunziata in Arezzo [pp. 446-449]A Head of Christ by Guercino at Budapest [pp. 449-450]

    LettersSano di Pietro's S. Bernardino Panels [pp. 451-452]An Urbino Provenance for the Toulouse 'Boarhunt' [p. 452]

    Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 453-454]Review: untitled [pp. 455-456]Review: untitled [pp. 456-457]Review: untitled [pp. 457-458]Review: untitled [pp. 458-459]Review: untitled [pp. 459-460]Review: untitled [pp. 460-461]Review: untitled [pp. 461-462]Review: untitled [p. 462]

    Publications ReceivedReview: untitled [p. 462]Review: untitled [p. 462]

    Exhibition ReviewsReview: Corot. Norwich, Castle Museum [pp. 463-464]Review: Early Italian Works from Swiss Collections. Lugano [pp. 464-468]Review: Old Master Paintings and Drawings. London [pp. 468-470]Review: Valadier Drawings. London, Artemis [pp. 470-473]Review: Like the Face of the Moon. Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery [pp. 473-475]Review: Guercino Drawings. Haarlem [pp. 475-476]Review: Joos van Cleve. Paris, Louvre [pp. 476-477]Review: Seurat. Paris, Grand Palais [pp. 477-479]Review: Andr Breton. Paris, Muse nationale d'art moderne [pp. 479-480]Review: Indonesian Art. New York and Washington [pp. 480-482]Review: Sigmar Polke Retrospective. Washington, Chicago and Brooklyn [pp. 482-483]

    Calendar [pp. 484-488]Review: Corrections: Drawings by Van Dyck. New York and Fort Worth [p. 488]Guercino in Britain. Paintings from British Collections [Exhibition Catalog] [pp. i-iv+1-68]Back Matter