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Landscape with animals

Campana Tommaso (?)

(active at the beginning of the 17th century)

The painting could be identified with one of the paintings of “birds and fish” that Scipione Borghese paid Tommaso Campana for in 1619. Both the subject and style, which seem far from the Flemish painting of the time, strongly suggest the Bolognese painter. However, the canvas was recently brought closer to Antonio Cinatti, a little-known painter working between Frascati and Rome during the Borghese pontificate.

Keeping pace with the scientific culture in Rome at the time, the work depicts various types of birds, including two geese, flapping their wings on a pond where some ducks, robins, pigeons and goldfinches are swimming. Appearing on the left, on a sort of hillock, is a hare.

Object details

c. 1609-1610
oil on canvas
99 x 198 cm

Nineteenth century frame, 113.5 x 213 x 6 cm


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 21, no. 17); purchased by the Italian State, 1902


Described by Giovanni Piancastelli in 1891 as a Flemish work, this painting was attributed by Adolfo Venturi (1893) to the Roman artist Arcangelo Resani, a name rejected by both Roberto Longhi (1928) and Paola della Pergola (1959), with the latter attributing the work to Tommaso Campana. Based on her interpretation of a few documents, Della Pergola argued that the painting, made by Campana in 1619, was among those sold to Scipione Borghese, who had shortly before commissioned the artist to produce various paintings of birds and fish for the Villa Mondragone. The provenance of the painting in the Tuscolan estate explained the absence of the work in the various inventories of the collection, in which it does not appear until 1833.

This attribution, already convincing from every angle, found further confirmation in a series of payments made in 1619 to the carpenter Annibale Durante ‘for three frames gilt with burnished gold with emblems and foliage shadowed with gold chiaroscuro’, made for the ‘painting of the Madonna of the Veronese, another for the painting of the landscape with the live animals and the other with dead birds’ (Della Pergola, op. cit.). But, as stressed by the scholar, the attribution of the painting to the artist remained hypothetical, since the lack of secure works by Campana made it impossible to confirm.

In 1989, in connection with her research on the Italian still life, Anna Colombi Ferretti was able to confirm the attribution to Campana, showing that certain features of the work, including the rendering of the animals and the composition, do not contradict ‘the painter’s training in Emilia, where it does not seem impossible for there to have been some precocious similarity to the style of Paolo Antonio Barbieri, nor his integration into the Roman milieu’.

These authoritative arguments did not, however, convince Kristina Herrmann Fiore, who published the still life in 2006 with an attribution to Antonio Cinatti, a Florentine painter active in Florence and Rome in the first half of the seventeenth century. Little is known about this artist specialised in nature subjects who, according to Filippo Baldinucci, worked with the architect and painter Giovanni Caccini on the decoration of the Pucci Chapel in the church of the Santissima Annunziata, Florence. When he arrived in Rome, he associated artistically with the milieu of Agostino Tassi and Orazio Gentileschi, working with those artists at various sites, and ending up involved, among other things, in Artemisia Gentileschi’s suit against Tassi (see Solinas 2000). In 1609-1610, the period during which, according to Herrmann Fiore, Cinatti made the painting, the artist worked with Valerio Orsini on the frescoes in the Rocca di Frascati, used by Scipione Borghese to host his numerous guests, as well as some spaces in the Vatican and the Borghese residence on Monte Cavallo (Corbo-Pomponi 1995).

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 424; 
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 153; 
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 205; 
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, pp. 74-75, n. 110; 
  • F. Zeri, Sull’esecuzione di “nature morte” nella bottega del Cavalier d’Arpino, e sulla presenza ivi del giovane Caravaggio, in “Diari di Lavoro”, II, 1976, pp. 92-103; 
  • C. Strinati, in Quadri Romani tra ‘500 e ‘600 - Opere restaurate e da restaurare, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Palazzo Venezia, 1979), a cura di C. Strinati, Roma 1979, pp. 62-65; 
  • A. Colombi Ferretti, in La pittura in Italia. Il Seicento, a cura di M. Gregori, Erich Schleier, Milano 1989 pp. 448-449; 
  • A.M. Corbo, M. Pomponi, Fonti per la storia artistica romana al tempo di Paolo V, Roma 1995, pp. 65, 136;
  • F. Moro, in I Piaceri della vita in Campagna, catalogo della mostra (Belgioioso, Castello di Belgioioso, 2000; Ariccia, Palazzo Chigi, 2000), a cura di F. Moro, Milano 2000, p.14; 
  • F. Solinas, in I segreti di un collezionista. Le straordinarie raccolte di Cassiano dal Pozzo 1588-1657, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica - Palazzo Barberini), a cura di F. Solinas, Roma 2000, pp. 104-106;
  • 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. 97.