Angelo Caroselli * (1585 -1652)
The Massacre of the Innocents
Oil on Canvas. Good Condition. Professionally restored in 2006. Both Restoration and Authentication Reports will be forwarded to the Buyer.
In a Gild Baroque Frame, in very good condition.
Canvas: 48.25 x 51.9cm (approx 19 x 20.75 inches) Framed: 64.5 x 69 cm (approx 25 x 27 inches)
Provenance: Private Collection
G. B. Passeri, "Vite de'pittori, scultori ed architetti che hanno lavorato in Roma morti dal 1641 al 1673" [c. 1673], ed. J. Hess, Leipzig-Vienna, 1934, pp. 188-195; B. Nicolson, "Caravaggism in Europe", 1989; P. Rosenberg "Poussin's Roman Beginnings" The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 141, No. 1152 (Mar., 1999), pp. 191-193.
Angelo Caroselli (1585-1652) was a talented artist although he is more famous for his copies and pastiches of other artists work than for his own. He worked for some years in a Caravaggesque style, producing works of great quality such as "The Allegory of Vanity" (Longhi Collection, Florence) "Lesbia Mourning her Pet Sparrow" (private collection) and "Omphale" (sold at auction at Sotheby's, London on 7 July 2011 for £63,650).
The artist's biographer Passeri is a useful source of otherwise scarce information on the artist, and we read of the invitation extended by King Charles I of England to Caroselli, whose negative response paved the way for Orazio Gentileschi's stay there from 1626 until his death in 1639.
Caroselli's "Plague at Ashdod" (National Gallery, London) is a copy after Poussin's painting of the same subject, but it is considered one of his finest works, and it is one of the most distinguished reminders of the plague of 1630 in Rome. Caroselli's painting was commissioned in 1630 by the Sicilian art collector Fabrizio Valguarnera while Poussin's version, also commissioned by Valguarnera, was still being painted. Our present painting dates shortly after the Plague at Ashdod and, as the Conservation Report states, the folds of the drapery and the blue pigments used are particularly characteristic of the artist.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, when the Three Wise Men sought out the birth of Jesus, they first visited Herod the Great to ask if he knew the correct location. Herod, the Roman king in Judea, feeling that his throne was in jeopardy, asked the Three Wise Men to find the child and return to tell him so that he may worship him, with the secret intention of killing the identified child immediately. When the Wise Men, warned in dreams of the king's true intentions, returned home by a different route to avoid being forced to betray the child, Herod ordered the slaughter of all male children who were two years old and under. Fortunately for them, according to Matthew, Joseph, Mary and Jesus had fled to Egypt after they had been warned by an angel.
The theme of the "Massacre of the Innocents" has provided artists with opportunities to compose violent depictions of massed bodies showing compelling details of grief and violence, such as the rediscovered Rubens' lost masterpiece (sold at auction at Sotheby's, London on 10 July 2002 for £49.5 Mil).
Angelo Caroselli's Massacre of the Innocents shows the influence of the early Roman years and owes a debt to Poussin especially in the rendering of classical compositions of some complexity. Following Valguarnera's commission of the Plague after Poussin, it is likely that Caroselli continued the theme for some time, creating similar compositions either for his own scope or for other patrons.