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Winter

Circle of da Ponte Jacopo called Jacopo Bassano

(Bassano del Grappa 1510 - 1592)

Mistakenly described as a ‘rustic scene’ in the Borghese inventories, this painting depicts Winter, which like the other Seasons in the Borghese Collection shows a series of figures and typical occupations of that season, such as gathering wood. In addition to the landscape completely covered in snow, the frigid, wintry atmosphere is emphasised by a peasant family huddled around a fire; one of the women in the group has a spindle and a pair of bellows, while a man is warming his feet.

As in the other Seasons by the Bassano family, this composition contains an isolated Biblical scene in the background, namely Christ Carrying the Cross; the death of Christ indeed evokes the darkness of evil and winter, a time when nature – like Jesus – dies in order to be reborn in spring.

A different version of this subject, which critics attribute to the Bassano circle (inv. no. 9), still forms part of the Borghese Collection.

 


Object details

Inventory
029
Location
Date
fine XVI secolo
Classification
Period
Medium
oil on canvas
Dimensions
cm 130 x 184
Frame

Salvator Rosa (154 x 209.5 x 9.2 cm)

 

Provenance

Rome, Borghese Collection, 1790 (Inv. 1790, room I, no. 38); Inventario Fidecommissario, 1833, p. 39; purchased by Italian state, 1902.


Commentary

The first mention of this painting dates to 1790, when it was included in the inventory of the belongings of the Borghese family. Here it was indicated as a ‘country scene by Bassano’. The same description was given by the compiler of the 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario. Originally attributed to Jacopo Bassano (Venturi 1893; Arslan 1931), in 1928 Roberto Longhi was the first to propose that it came from the workshop of Leandro. His opinion, though, was rejected by Paola della Pergola (1955), who considered the work a derivation from an original by Jacopo; while first leaning toward an attribution to Jacopo’s circle, she later published it as a copy. Longhi’s hypothesis was also rebuffed by Edoardo Arslan (1960), who believed it to be in the style of Girolamo Bassano.

The subject of the painting was also uncertain at first. Initially believed to be a country scene, it is now understood to be a representation of Winter, as is evident in several of the scenes depicted in the composition, such as the gathering of firewood on the right, the family of peasants huddled around the fire, the woman with the spindle, and the seated man warming his feet. This interpretation is confirmed by the image of Christ Carrying the Cross, a motif found again in both the Winter at the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna (Gemäldegalerie, inv. no. 4288) and a second version of the subject in the Borghese Collection (inv. no. 9).

In addition, it is probable that like the other works of the Seasons cycle in the Galleria Borghese this canvas was also in the Casino di Porta Pinciana in 1650, when Iacomo Manilli recorded 13 works which he attributed to the Bassano circle.

 

Antonio Iommelli

 

 




Bibliography
  • I. Manilli, Villa Borghese fuori di Porta Pinciana, Roma 1650, p. 88;
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 43;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 46;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 178;
  • W. Arslan, I Bassano, Milano 1931, p. 349;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 103, n. 183;
  • E. Arslan, I Bassano, II, Milano 1960, p. 365;
  • 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. 15.