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Christ and the Samaritan Woman

Bonzi Pietro Paolo, detto il Gobbo dei Carracci

(Cortona 1573 - Rome 1636)

This work on copper, together with the painting depicting Jesus walking on water (inv. 276), is remembered in the Borghese collection only from the 18th-century inventories, and attributed to Domenichino. The subject is taken from the Gospel of Saint John (4: 6-10) and represents Christ and the Samaritan woman in an ideal landscape borrowed from the famous lunettes that Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini commissioned Annibale Carracci to paint.

Object details

inizio del secolo XVII
oil on copper
diametro cm 25

Salvator Rosa, diameter 39 cm

Text not translated yet
Roma, collezione Borghese, 1790 (Inv. 1790, St. IV, nn. 54 e 55); Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 27, n. 33; Acquisto dello Stato, 1902.
  • 1985 Roma, Palazzo Venezia;
  • 1996-1997 Roma, Musei Capitolini.
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1922 Riccardo de Bacci Venuti (fissaggio del colore, riprese pittoriche).


This painting, a pendant to the Calling of St Peter (inv. 276), is first documented in the Borghese Collection in 1790, when it was attributed in the inventory to Domenico Zampieri, called Domenichino. Shortly after, in 1833, the work was attributed in the fideicommissary lists to Benvenuto Tisi, called Garofalo, an attribution repeated in the handwritten inventory by Giovanni Piancastelli (1891), but rejected by Adolfo Venturi (1893), who saw it as linked to the Flemish School. In 1928, Roberto Longhi attributed the two small paintings on copper to the Bologna School, in particular Giovan Francesco Grimaldi, in contrast to Leo van Puyvelde (1950) who attributed them to Paul Bril. Taking into account an opinion expressed orally by Federico Zeri, Paola della Pergola revived the attribution to Domenichino in 1955, publishing the two paintings with this attribution in the catalogue of the Galleria Borghese’s paintings.

The first to propose the attribution to Pietro Paolo Bonzi, called Gobbo dei Carracci, was Clovis Whitfield (1996) who, in the entry for the two tondi in the catalogue on Domenichino and the development of landscape painting in Rome, joined Sir Denis Mahon in adding the two Borghese paintings on copper to the artist’s meagre catalogue. Born in Cortona, he had trained in Bologna under the landscape painter and Carracci follower Giovanni Battista Viola and was an active member of Giovanni Battista Crescenzi’s academy in Rome. According to Whitfield, Gobbo painted the work during the period when he was emulating the style of Zampieri, copying the other artist’s subjects, such as, in this particular case, the Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well at the Davis Museum (Wellesley College, Massachusetts).

A drawing with the same subject, preserved in Paris at the Louvre (Cabinet des Dessins, inv. 7434) and attributed by Seymour Howard to Bonzi (1988), is similar in many ways to the Borghese painting, as well as to a fresco painted in Castelfusano by Pietro Berrettini (Whitfield 1996), who was also from Cortona and had worked with Bonzi, the former passing on to the latter some of the features of the Carracci’s approach to landscape. 

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Baglione, Vite de’ pittori, scultori e architetti. Dal Ponteficato di Gregorio XIII del 1572 in fino à tempi di Papa Urbano VIII nel 1642, Roma 1642, p. 343.
  • C.C. Malvasia, Felsina Pittrice, Bologna 1678, a cura di G. P. Zanotti II, Bologna 1841, p. 91. 
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 148. 
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 142. 
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 201. 
  • R. Buscaroli, Pittura di paesaggio in Italia, Bologna 1935, pp. 259, 297.
  • E. Battisti, Profilo del Gobbo dei Carracci, in Commentari, V, 1954, pp. 290-302.
  • L. van Puyvelde, La Peinture Flamande à Rome, Bruxelles 1950, pp. 75-76. 
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, pp. 29-30, n. 33. 
  • E. Borea, Aspetti del Domenichino paesista, in “Paragone”, CXXIII, 1960, p. 15.
  • E. Borea, Domenichino, Milano 1965, p. 193. 
  • P. della Pergola, L’Inventario Borghese del 1693 (III), “Arte Antica e Moderna”, n. 30, 1965, p. 203. 
  • R. Longhi, Saggi e ricerche 1925-28. Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane. La Galleria Borghese, Firenze 1967, p. 345. 
  • F. Borrioni, Bonzi, Pietro Paolo, voce in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, XII, 1971, ad vocem.
  • M.T. Pugliatti, Pietro Paolo Bonzi paesista, in "Quaderni dell’Istituto di Storia dell’Arte medioevale e moderna dell’Università di Messina", I, 1975, pp. 15-23.
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, in Paesaggio con figura. 57 dipinti della Galleria Borghese esposti temporaneamente a Palazzo Venezia, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Palazzo Venezia, 1985), a cura di K. Herrmann Fiore, Roma 1985, n. 41 (come Zampieri).
  • S. Howard, Carraccesque landscapes by Bonzi, in "Gazette des beaux-arts", CXII, 1988, pp. 227-249, in part. fig. 18.
  • A. Cottino, Pietro Paolo Bonzi, in La natura morta in Italia, a cura di F. Zeri, II, Milano 1989, pp. 698-702. 
  • A. Cottino, Pietro Paolo Bonzi detto il Gobbo dei Carracci, in La Scuola dei Carracci. I seguaci di Annibale e Agostino, a cura di E. Negro, M. Pirondini, Modena 1995, pp. 125-136.
  • C. Whitfield, scheda in Classicismo e Natura. La lezione di Domenichino, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Musei Capitolini, 1996-1997), a cura di D. Mahon, C. Strinati, C. Whitfield, Roma 1996. p. 149, n. 26. 
  • P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 305. 
  • F. Cappelletti, La pittura di paesaggio in Italia. Il Seicento, a cura di L. Trezzani, Milano 2004, pp. 243-245.
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 91.