Follower of BARTOLOMEO MANFREDI (1582-1622)
The Card Players
Oil on Canvas. Unsigned, Undated. Very Good Condition - please see Condition Report below. Offered with a plain gilt Frame, in good condition.
Measurements- Canvas: 110 x 165cm (approx 43.2 x 65 inches). In addition, the Frame measures some 8cm (approx 3.5 inches)
PROVENANCE: Galerie Fischer, Luzern 12 and 13 June 1953, Lot 69 as Caravaggio; acquired by the Chevalier Family from the Rhineland where it remained until recently. The Chevaliers, a prominent family of diplomats employed in the Foreign Service, were art historians and important collectors of art. Several periods of residence abroad in Europe, Turkey and Africa led to an expansion in their notable Baroque collection, to include antique Islamic and Byzantine art.
This impressive Canvas depicting Two Men and a Lady playing Cards at a Table is very similar in composition to that of a painting by Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582-1622) sold in Milan by Finarte (Lot 197 on 27th March 1990). Manfredi specialised in low-life scenes of tavern and card-playing, and like Caravaggio (1573-1610) he contributed considerably to the great popularity of the genre. Our present picture was almost certainly painted in Italy at a later date (probably early 1700) and evidently the author was well aware of the considerable commercial demand for such Caravaggesque pictures, but it is not obvious that the artist was himself Italian. Experts have examined this Painting and have advised accordingly.
Paintings by Caravaggio, by Bartolomeo Manfredi, and by the Caravaggesque Followers are present in all the most important Museums in the world.
LITERATURE: B. Nicolson "Caravaggism in Europe", Turin 1990; A. Moir "The Italian Followers of Caravaggio", Cambridge, Mass, 1967; B. Nicolson "Bartolomeo Manfredi in Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Art", London 1967 and "The International Caravaggesque Movement", Oxford 1979; J. von Sandrart "Academie der Bau-, Bild und Mahlerei Kuenste" von 1675, Nuernberg, 1675.
The Caravaggesque Movement was inspired by Caravaggio (1573-1610). Probably the most revolutionary artist of his time, Caravaggio abandoned the rules that had guided a century of artists before him who had idealized the human and religious experience. He was born Michelangelo Merisi on Sept. 28, 1573, in Caravaggio, Italy. As an adult he would become known by the name of his birthplace. Orphaned at age 11, he was apprenticed to the painter Simone Peterzano of Milan for four years. At some time between 1588 and 1592, Caravaggio went to Rome and worked as an assistant to painters of lesser skill. About 1595 he began to sell his paintings through a dealer. The dealer brought Caravaggio to the attention of Cardinal Francesco del Monte. Despite criticism and outcry for his style of realistic and dramatic painting, his reputation increased. He had many encounters with the law during his stay in Rome. He was imprisoned for several assaults and for killing an opponent after a disputed score in a game of court tennis. Caravaggio fled the city and reached Naples early in 1607, and painted there for a time, awaiting a pardon by the pope. Early in 1608 Caravaggio went to Malta and was received as a celebrated artist by the Grand Master of the Knights of St John's. His paintings of this period were among the greatest of his career. After receiving a pardon from the pope, he was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned for two days. A boat that was to take him to Rome left without him, taking his belongings. Misfortune, exhaustion, and illness overtook him and he collapsed on the beach and died a few days later on July 18, 1610.
One of the most important Caravaggio's follower was Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582-1622). Born in Mantua and active mainly in Rome, he specialized in low-life scenes of taverns, soldiers in guardrooms, cardplaying, etc, and like Caravaggio, he was responsible for popularizing this kind of work, particularly with painters from France and the Netherlands who came to Italy. In spite of his contemporary reputation, no works survive that are signed or documented as his, and several of the forty or so paintings now given to him were formerly attributed to Caravaggio.
CONDITION REPORT: The actual painting is slightly deeper in tone and shows more contrast than the photograph illustration would suggest. The canvas has been relined and traces of a vertical fold can be observed running through the right card player. Traces of the stretcher can be seen. A small filling can be observed to the right of the head of the left man, and a small repaired tear can be observed in his cloak. Coarse retouchings and strengthening can be seen, e.g. around the eyes of the lady, in the background, the face of the card player to the right; the folds of the clothing and in the background. The painting is covered with an uneven, slightly dirty varnish layer, which fluoresces partly under ultra violet light. The Painting is in overall Good Condition. Offered with a plain gilt frame, in good condition.