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Landscape with the baptism of Christ

flemish school

The small oil painting on copper, which was certainly in the Borghese collection in 1833, shows a landscape containing the scene of the baptism of Christ. A meticulousness typical of Flemish painting is set in a landscape typical of Ferrara, an element that has led critics to place the composition within the sphere of Nicolò dell'Abate.

Object details

1540s (?)
oil on copper
cm 9x12

Rome, Collezione Borghese, recorded in the Inventario fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 31. Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1952, Augusto Vermhren


Based on its size and support, the small painting under analysis can be identified with the work in the fideicommissary document of 1833 and described as: “101. A village, by Brueghel, 6 inches wide in diameter, in copper”. Adolfo Venturi (1893) attributed it to Jacques Callot, without no further motivation or stylistic comparisons, but Roberto Longhi (1928) later rejected the earlier comparison.

Paola della Pergola (1955) saw it as a “minor” composition, given the quality of the painting, but felt that it could certainly be associated with the style of Nicolò dell’Abate, given the similarities with the “spirit of that Ferrarese painting that felt the first Flemish influences”.

It might be more pertinent to trace the work back to a Flemish artist close to the style of the Modenese painter, someone familiar with experimentation with the Ferrarese landscape, working around the 1550s.

Lara Scanu

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 395
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 221
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 224
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 58, n. 97