A Question of Attribution

Notice des Principaux Tableaux recueillis en Italie, Par les Commissaires du Gouvernement Français. Troisième Partie, Comprenant ceux de Florence et de Turin, dont l’Exposition provisoire aura lieu dans le grand Salon du Muséum, les Octidi, Nonidi et Décadi de chaque Décade, à compter du 28 Ventôse an VIII [19 March 1800].

2 p.l., iv, 80 pp. Small 8vo (150 x 100 mm.), cont. brown wrappers, stitched as issued (corners a trifle worn). [Paris]: L’Imprimerie des Sciences et Arts, [1800].

The rare exhibition catalogue of paintings looted in Florence and Turin by Bonaparte’s army. This exhibition presented 147 works from the Italian, Flemish, German, and French schools. It included works by Albani, del Sarto, Caravaggio, Annibale and Agostino Carracci, Domenichino, Orazio Gentileschi, Giorgione, Guercino, Guido Reni, Mantegna, Michelangelo, Moroni, Veronese, Raphael, Sacchi, del Piombo, Tintoretto, Titian, the Brueghels, Dou, Holbein, Potter, Rembrandt, Rubens, both Teniers, Wouwerman, N. Poussin, etc., etc. Each painting is meticulously described, with information on the contents, measurements, supports, provenance, etc. Many of the paintings were seized from the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Some of the entries continue for several pages. The final ten numbers consist of paintings and panels made of marble and jasper produced at the Florentine manufactory.

“In view of the quality and fame of most of pictures seized from Italy and taken to Paris it is not surprising that both critics and the general public tended to greet these and later exhibitions with indiscriminate enthusiasm. Such enthusiasm [was], combined with praise for the museum’s restorers for bringing back to life masterpieces that had long been neglected by the Italians themselves and with anticipation of the benefits that French painters would derive from such nourishing fare…Only very occasionally were specific issues of attribution or authenticity raised by commentators. The exhibition of 1800, however, did give rise to a vigorous controversy. Was the Descent from the Cross [no. 14 in this catalogue], which had been taken to the Louvre from Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, the work of a pupil of Andrea del Sarto called Andrea Sguazzella, as the catalogue suggested, or by Raphael, which was the conclusion to be drawn from an engraving of the picture published by Johann-Kaspar Lavater?”–F. Haskell [& N. Penny], The Ephemeral Museum: Old Master Paintings and the Rise of the Art Exhibition (2002), pp. 37-38.

Very good copy, several leaves with minor foxing.

❧ Marquet de Vasselot, Répertoire des catalogues du Musée du Louvre (1793-1926) (1927), 113. For more on the controversy over the painting attributed to Sguazella, see Haskell, p. 38.

Price: $650.00

Item ID: 6724

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