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Lucretia

Grazia Leonardo called Leonardo da Pistoia

(Pistoia 1503 - Naples post 1548)

Critics variously ascribed this work to Perugino, Bronzino and Jacopino del Conte before it was finally rightly attributed to Leonardo Grazia of Pistoia, a name which first appears in the Borghese Collection in 1650. This oil on slate depicts Lucretia, the wife of Collatinus, whom ancient Romans celebrated as a model of virtue and marital fidelity: according to legend, Lucretia stabbed herself to death in front of her husband after she was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, son of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. The episode led to the fall of the monarchy.

 


Object details

Inventory
075
Location
Date
Quarto decennio del XVI secolo
Classification
Period
Medium
oil on slate
Dimensions
cm 55 x 43
Frame

Salvator Rosa( 68 x 56 x 6.5 cm)

Provenance

Rome, Borghese Collection 1650 (Manilli 1650); Inv. 1693, room I, no. 44; Inv. 1790, room III, no. 20; Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 19; purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Exhibitions
  • 2013 Bonn, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland;
  • 2014-2015 Roma, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Palazzo Barberini;
  • 2016 Parma, Galleria Nazionale;
  • 2022 Saint Louis, Missouri, Saint Louis Art Museum
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1957 - Alvaro Esposti, Gilda Diotallevi , pulitura, stuccatura delle lacune interessanti, riprese pittoriche

Commentary

This painting was first documented as forming part of the Borghese Collection in 1650, when Iacomo Manilli listed it in his guide as a work by ‘Pistoia’, alias Leonardo Grazia, a painter from the Tuscan city who was active in Rome, Naples and Tuscany during the first half of the 16th century. Later inventories, however, did not accept this attribution: while the compiler of the 1693 document labelled the painter as ‘uncertain’, that of 1790 ascribed it to Perugino. Nineteenth-century sources, meanwhile – the Inventario Fidecommissario (1833), the profiles by Giovanni Piancastelli (1891) and the catalogue of Adolfo Venturi (1893) – identified it as a ‘work by Bronzino’.

The debate over the artist’s identity continued into the first half of the 20th century, with various names proposed: from Bronzino (Morelli 1874) to Pontormo (Berenson 1909), and from Baldassare Peruzzi (Longhi 1928) to Jacopino del Conte. The last-mentioned painter was suggested by Paola della Pergola (1959), who noted that the sharpness of the contours and the long fingers of the woman’s hand might indicate an artist from the circle of the Florentine painter. Her view was accepted by several critics, including Kristina Herrmann Fiore (2006), but rightly contested by Pierluigi Leone de Castris (1988), who again proposed the name of Pistoia. De Castris argued that the work was a product of the artist’s Roman period, together with two other paintings by him in the Borghese Collection, Venus (inv. no. 92) and Cleopatra (inv. no. 337). In spite of the authority of Manilli (1650), scholars before De Castris underestimated this possibility; only in the last three decades have critics accepted it (De Marchi 1994; in Pietra dipinta 2000; 2014; Bisceglia 1996; Donati 2010). More recently, Michela Corso (2018a; 2018b) researched the friendship between Jacopino and Leonardo – mentioned by Giovanni Baglione – and noted the typical elements of Pistoia’s figurative idiom in the work in question. In Corso’s view, these traits confirm his adherence to the style of Giulio Romano, Perin del Vaga and Parmigianino, which he absorbed in response to the production of Jacopino and Bronzino.

As Roberto Cannatà (2002) suggested, this painting on slate betrays a simplified taste for a style characterised by ‘alabaster brightness and slightly rigid contours’ (Cannatà 2001), which together with the cold, resonant perfection of the colouring characterise Grazia’s work during his last decade in Rome, before his move to the court of Naples, where he was active at the beginning of the 1540s. His paintings are in fact profoundly influenced by Raphael, showing that soft grace and elegant, composed sensuality which won him great success in Rome and Naples.

The work depicts the famous Roman heroine Lucretia, portrayed here alone against a dark background. Her representation completely contradicts those of ancient narratives regarding her (Corso 2018b). In addition, her pose is immobile: her gaze is still as she displays the dagger. Perhaps this reflects the wish of the person who commissioned the work not to emphasise the gesture of suicide, an act which went against Christian morality (Corso 2018b).

Antonio Iommelli




Bibliography
  • I. Manilli, Villa Borghese fuori di Porta Pinciana, Roma 1650, p. 98;
  • E. e C. Platner, Beschreibung der Stadt Rom, III, Stuttgart 1842, p. 284;
  • X. Barbier de Montault, Les Musées et Galeries de Rome, Rome 1870, p. 346;
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 252;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 73;
  • G. Lafenestre, E. Richtenberger, La peinture en Europe. Rome. Les Musées, les Collections particulières, les Palais, Paris 1905, p. 14;
  • B. Berenson, Florentine Painters, New York 1909, p. 176;
  • H. Schulze, Die Werke Angelo Bronzino, Strassburg 1911, p. XXVII;
  • J. M. Clapp, Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo, His Life and Work, with a Foreword by Frank Jewett Mather Jr., New Haven 1916, pp. 85, 179;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 183;
  • A. Mc Comb, Angelo Bronzino, his Life and Works, Cambridge 1928, p. 119;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, p. 30, n. 34;
  • P. Leone de Castris, La pittura del Cinquecento nell'Italia meridionale, in La Pittura in Italia. Il Cinquecento, Milano 1988, p. 443;
  • P. Costamagna, Pontormo, Milano 1994, p. 319, n. A109;
  • A. G. De Marchi, Dipinti e sculture dal XIV al XIX secolo, Galleria Gilberto Zabert, Torino 1994, cat. n. 5;
  • A. Bisceglia, Esperienze artistiche fuori contesto: da Pistoia al Viceregno di Napoli, in Fra' Paolino e la pittura a Pistoia nel primo '500. L'età di Savonarola, catalogo della mostra (Pistoia, Palazzo Comunale, 1996), a cura di C. D'Afflitto, F. Falletti, A. Muzzi, Venezia 1996, pp. 99-102, 105;
  • P. Leone de Castris, La pittura del Cinquecento a Napoli. 1540-1573. Fasto e devozione, Napoli 1996, p. 86;
  • A. G. De Marchi, in Pietra dipinta. Tesori nascosti del '500 e del '600 da una collezione privata milanese, catalogo della mostra (Milano, Palazzo Reale, 2000-2001), a cura di M. Bona Castellotti, Milano 2000, pp. 60-61, n. 24;
  • P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 339;
  • R. Cannatà, Grazia, Leonardo, detto il Pistoia, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, LVIII, 2002, ad vocem;
  • 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. 29;
  • A. Donati, Ritratto e figura nel manierismo. Michelangelo, Daniele da Volterra e Jacopino del Conte, Rimini 2010, p. 160;
  • A. G. De Marchi, a cura di, Daniele da Volterra e la prima pietra del 'Paragone', Roma 2014, pp. 16, 36 nota 12;
  • M. Corso (a), Le opere e i giorni di Leonardo Grazia da Pistoia tra Lucca, Roma e Napoli, in "Proporzioni", I, 2018, pp. 54, 65 nota 86;
  • M. Corso (b), Eros e Thanatos, Virtus e Voluptas. Leonardo Grazia da Pistoia e i dipinti dedicati a Lucrezia, in L'Autunno della Maniera. Studi sulla pittura del Tardo Cinquecento a Roma, a cura di M. Corso, A. Ulisse, Roma 2018, pp. 23-31.