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Paesaggio con san Francesco

Workshop of Bril Paul

(Antwerp 1554 - Rome 1626)

The painting, traditionally attributed by critics to Paul Bril, is now considered the product of a workshop. It represents Francis of Assisi, surrounded by nature, contemplating the divine mystery rendered here with a beam of light. The scene is on two planes that are connected in the centre of the scene by a huge rock that forces the eye to look at the landscape in the distance and the mountain range behind it. The colour, applied in soft dry brushstrokes, is glossy thanks to the choice of the copper support.

 


Object details

Inventory
252
Location
Date
late 16th century
Classification
Period
Medium
olio su rame
Dimensions
27 x 29 cm
Frame

Salvator Rosa, 49.4 x 40 x 4.6 cm

Provenance

(?) Rome, collection of Giuseppe Cesari, before 1607 (Cappelletti 2005-2006); (?) Rome, collection of Scipione Borghese, 1607; (?) Rome, Borghese Collection, 1693 (Inv. 1693, room IX, no. 29; Della Pergola 1959); Inventario Fidecommissario, 1833, p. 28; purchased by the Italian State, 1902

 

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1903 Luigi Bartolucci (disinfestazione)
  • 2000 ENEA (indagini diagnostiche)

Commentary

The provenance of this painting on copper remains unclear and the specific circumstances that brought the work to the Borghese Collection are still unknown. Indeed, the painting is not unequivocally documented until the fideicommissary lists of 1833, since the references in the 1693 and 1790 inventories are imprecise. As suggested by Francesca Cappelletti (2005-2006), it is likely that the work entered the collection of Scipione Borghese after the 1607 sequester of the assets of Cavalier d’Arpino, the collection of whom included many landscapes, although the summary descriptions of these works allow us neither confirm nor reject her theory.

Listed in 1833 as anonymous, the painting was attributed to Paul Bril for the first time by Adolfo Venturi (1893), followed by Mayer (1910), who dated the work to 1595, and Roberto Longhi (1928). In 1959, Paola della Pergola confirmed the attribution and dating of the work, preceded, however, by Leo van Puyvelde in 1950, who, while incorrectly describing the support, included the painting on copper among the early works by the Flemish painter, linking it to works painted by Bril in the chapel of the Sacro Cuore that was built in the church of Gesù, Rome during the papacy of Paul V. In particular, the scholar noted the identical handling of trees, emphasising that the use of three different hues was typical of sixteenth-century Flemish painting. The attribution to Paul Bril, accepted unreservedly by Kristina Herrmann Fiore (2006), was contested by Francesca Cappelletti (2005-2006), who considered the painting to be of modest quality and the work of one of Bril’s followers.

The representation of this subject in a vast landscape and the choice of copper for the support were typical of Flemish painting, which found an extraordinary interpreter in Italy in the person of the Brescian painter Girolamo Muziano, whose landscapes with hermits, known through a popular series of prints made in the 1570s by Cornelius Cort, were highly regarded by contemporary painters.

Antonio Iommelli




Bibliography
  • X. Barbier de Montault, Les Musées et Galeries de Rome, Rome 1870, p. 356.
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 455.
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 137.
  • A. Mayer, Das Leben und die Werke der Brüder Matthäeus und Paul Brill, Leipzig 1910, p. 76.
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 200.
  • L. Van Puyvelde, La Peinture Flamande à Rome, Bruxelles 1950, pp. 74-75.
  • H. Wagner, Michelangelo da Caravaggio, Bern 1958, p. 208 (nota 455).
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, p. 151, n. 211.
  • F. Cappelletti, Paul Bril e la pittura di paesaggio a Roma 1580-1630, Roma 2006, pp. 178-179, nota 38.
  • 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. 85.