Exhibition

Paintings by Carlo Maratti

An exhibition focused on the paintings of Carlo Maratti, also known as Maratta, the most important painter of Rome in the second-half of the 17th century.
Paintings by Carlo Maratti
NICHOLAS HALL
17 East 76th Street, New York
26 October – 30 November 2017
summary

Nicholas Hall is delighted to present the exhibition Paintings by Carlo Maratti. The exhibition will be the first dedicated to the painted works by Carlo Maratti, an artist who was as successful a painter as Bernini was a sculptor in Baroque Rome. Despite his art historical significance and international influence that extended well into the eighteenth century, Maratti is represented in very few US public collections, and not one in the New York area. This is a rare opportunity to see significant works by this distinguished painter.

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Nicholas Hall

Foreword

There has never been a monographic exhibition devoted to Carlo Maratti and this tiny focus show certainly does not fill that strange lacuna. Despite his huge importance as the pre-eminent High Baroque painter in Rome, still the center of grand style taste in the second half of the seventeenth century, and painter-in-chief to eight succes- sive popes, there are no paintings by Maratti in the National Gallery, London; the National Gallery of Art, Washington; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; and, indeed, most major American museums.

He is perhaps the most important unknown painter of the seventeenth century, in part because so many of Maratti’s greatest works are altarpieces and still in their original locations in out-of-the-way baroque churches in Rome and the Marche. It is also because the very qualities as an exemplar of high classical style, which made Maratti such a resounding success in his own day, make him seem unapproachable to an audience today. Just as people warm more to Michelangelo than to Raphael and to Caravaggio more than the Carracci, so too it is to Bernini more than to Maratti that most tourists now gravitate.

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Installation view of exhibition Paintings by Carlo Maratti at Nicholas Hall, October 2017
Dr. Stella Rudolph

An introduction to the outstanding and lengthy career of Carlo Maratti

Carlo Maratti was born on May 18th, 1625 in the town of Camerano on the west slope of Monte Conero, situated a few miles south of Ancona in the Marche region bordered by the Adriatic Sea. In fact, his elderly father had migrated as a boy with a group of Dalmatians to this area where he subsequently prospered as a landowner and married a young widow, Faustina Masini. Maratti was carefully educated but very early revealed a precocious artistic talent in experimenting with drawing and colors derived from plants. Some of the former caught the eye of Domenico Corraducci, a member of the most important local family who sent them to Maratti’s stepbrother Bernabeo Francioni, an aspiring painter resident in Rome, who in turn showed them to Andrea Camassei. This master was so impressed that he advised that the boy should be trained in Rome and, with the help of Corraducci, he arrived there at the age of 11. Bernabeo soon introduced him to Andrea Sacchi who, together with Pietro da Cortona, was one of the foremost painters during the papacy of Urban VIII Barberini (1623–1644).

Fig. 1 Carlo Maratti, The Madonna with Saints Monica, Augustine and Dominic, 1644- 45. Camerano, Chiesa dell’Immacolata. This photographic reproduction was provided by the Photo library of the Federico Zeri Foundation. The property rights of the author have been met.
Fig. 2 Carlo Maratti, Cross on the Book, 1646. 34.5 x 44.5 cm. Dorking, The Evelyn Trust Settlement. This photographic reproduction was provided by the Photo library of the Federico Zeri Foundation. The property rights of the author have been met.

Formative training with Sacchi

This rapid chain of events determined Maratti’s future success since he soon became the favorite pupil of Sacchi, who promoted him with paternal affection. In the following years, he underwent a severe curriculum studying the celebrated prototypes of Raphael, Annibale Carracci, Reni, Domenichino, and ancient sculpture of which he made drawings and engravings. That he had fully absorbed his master’s style and figural types is evidenced in the 1644–45 altarpiece of the Madonna with Saints Monica, Augustine, and Dominic painted for Corraducci and now in the Chiesa Parrocchiale of Camerano (fig. 1). Yet Maratti was already experimenting with other subjects such as the Cross on the Book (fig. 2), an unusual trompe- l’oeil still-life commissioned in 1645 by John Evelyn, the first of the numerous English travelers who would acquire the artist’s pictures and drawings, and then collaborated with Sacchi on the frescoed decoration of the Lateran Baptistery (San Giovanni in Fonte).

Fig. 3 Carlo Maratti, Nativity, 1650–60. Rome, San Giuseppe dei Falegnami. This photographic reproduction was provided by the Photo library of the Federico Zeri Foundation. The property rights of the author have been met.
Fig. 4 Carlo Maratti, Nativity, 1655–56. Rome, Palazzo del Quirinale. This photo- graphic reproduction was provided by the Photo library of the Federico Zeri Foundation. The property rights of the author have been met.

Public debut in Rome

After his return from a sojourn in the Marche in 1647–49, Maratti made his public debut in Rome with the much-admired Nativity altarpiece of 1650 for San Giuseppe dei Falegnami (fig. 3). As witnessed by his paintings for the Alaleona Chapel in Sant’Isidoro Agricola and in the Baptismal Chapel in San Marco (1655–57), this launched his career and thereafter his reputation was on a steady rise; so much so that he was allotted the focal point of the Gallery of Alexander VII Chigi in the Quirinal Palace for his Nativity within the series of paintings by emerging talents supervised by Pietro da Cortona in 1655–56 (fig. 4). Compared with his earlier version of the subject, this masterpiece reveals how Maratti was evolving Sacchi’s manner towards a personal baroque style influenced also by Bernini’s sculptures and Lanfranco’s earlier paintings, as is evidenced by the dramatic 1656–58 Saint Augustine and the Mystery of the Trinity in Santa Maria de’ Sette Dolori (fig. 5). Apart from altarpieces sent to Ascoli Piceno and Palma de Majorca, devotional pictures requested by an increasing number of clients and portraits, such as the splendid 1660–61 pair of Wentworth Dillon and Robert Spencer still in the Spencer Collection at Althorp, are indicative of Maratti extending his range of subjects to historical and mythological scenes, of which significant examples remain: the 1654–58 Augustus Ordering the Closure of the Doors of the Janus Temple (fig. 6) commissioned by Louis Philippeaux de La Vrillière (future Secretary of State to Louis XIV) for his residence in Paris, now in the Palais des Beaux Arts at Lille, and the Union of Dido and Aeneas (fig. 7) added to a landscape by Gaspard Dughet painted for a member of the Falconieri family, now in the National Gallery of London. He continued to collaborate with Dughet and other landscape painters as well as with still-life specialists like Mario dei Fiori in the Allegory of Summer in the Chigi Palace at Ariccia and the series of mirrors decorated with putti and garlands in the gallery of the Colonna Palace in Rome (fig. 8).

Fig. 5 Carlo Maratti, St.Augustine and the Mystery of the Trinity, 1656–58. Rome, Santa Maria de’ Sette Dolori. This photographic reproduction was provided by the Photo library of the Federico Zeri Foundation. The property rights of the author have been met.
Fig. 6 Carlo Maratti, Augustus Ordering the Closure of the Doors of the JanusTemple, or the Augustean Peace, ca. 1660. Oil on canvas, 280 x 175 cm. Lille, Palais des Beaux Arts. Inv.P.49. Photo: Jean Schormans. © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY.
Fig. 7 Carlo Maratti and Gaspard Dughet, Landscape with the Union of Dido and Aeneas, ca. 1664–68. Oil on canvas, 152.9 x 223.7 cm. London, National Gallery. Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831 (NG95). © National Gallery, London / Art Resource, NY.
Fig. 8 Carlo Maratti and Mario dei Fiori, Putti and Still life on a Mirror, 1660. Rome, Palazzo Colonna. © Paul Fearn / Alamy Stock Photo.
Fig. 9 Carlo Maratti, The Painter Andrea Sacchi, ca. 1661. Oil on canvas, 67 x 50 cm. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. © Museo Nacional del Prado / Art Resource, NY.
Fig. 10 Carlo Maratti, Visitation, 1664. Siena, Duomo, Cappella della Madonna del Voto. © Opera della Metropolitana.
Fig. 11 Carlo Maratti, Visitation and the Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Bernini Sculptures, Siena, Duomo, Cappella della Madonna del Voto © Foto LENSINI Siena

“Caposcuola della Pittura Romana”

Following the death of Sacchi in 1661, sensitively portrayed by his pupil in a canvas now in the Prado Museum in Madrid (fig. 9), Maratti’s talent was evermore in demand. A year later he was elected member of the Accademia di San Luca and Alexander VII Chigi commissioned from him the laterals for the Cappella del Voto in the Duomo of Siena decorated with statues by Bernini, Ferrata, and Raggi; completed in 1664, the Visitation (fig. 10) is still in place, whereas the Rest on the Flight into Egypt was substituted by a mosaic copy in the eighteenth century (fig. 11) and is now in the Gallerie Nazionali d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Corsini in Rome, together with the autograph replica on copper painted for the Chigi pope (fig. 12). It should be remembered that Maratti was employed by eight successive popes and their families (Barberini, Chigi, Rospigliosi, Altieri, Odescalchi, Ottoboni, Pignatelli, Albani). After the death of Pietro da Cortona in 1669, he was reputed the “caposcuola della pittura romana” (the leading painter in Rome) and after that of Bernini in 1680, the most famous Italian artist throughout Europe. Indeed, if the 1672 Madonna with the Five Saints Canonized by Clement X over the altar of the Altieri chapel in Santa Maria sopra Minerva well documents the taste and style of his maturity as an artist (fig. 13), the majestic 1671 full-length Portrait of Cardinal Antonio Barberini in the Gallerie Nazionali d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini in Rome (fig. 14) suffices to explain his renown in this field along with that of Baciccio in that period. In contrast to the formality of the latter picture, the 1672–73 Portrait of Giovan Pietro Bellori in the Briganti Collection, Rome (fig. 15), is instead an intimate homage to his friend and mentor who was writing Maratti’s biography, along with those of Reni and Sacchi, to be added to a new edition of his fundamental Vite de’ pittori, scultori e architetti published in 1672, which however appeared in print only in 1731 (concluded after Bellori’s death in 1696 by Maratti’s pupil Vicenzo Vittoria).

Fig. 12 Carlo Maratti, The Flight into Egypt, ca. 1664. Oil on copper, 60.3 x 48.6 cm. Rome, Gallerie Nazionali d’Arte Antica di Roma, Galleria Corsini.
Fig. 13 Carlo Maratti, Madonna with the Five Saints Canonized by Clement X, 1675. Rome, Santa Maria sopra Minerva. This photographic reproduction was pro- vided by the Photo library of the Federico Zeri Foundation. The property rights of the author have been met.
Fig. 15 Carlo Maratti, Portrait of Giovan Pietro Bellori, 1672–73. 97 x 72.5 cm. Briganti Collection.
Fig. 14 Carlo Maratti, Portait of Cardinal Antonio Barberini, 1671. Oil on canvas. Inv. n. 5001. Photo: Mauro Coen. © Rome, Gallerie Nazionali d’Arte Antica di Roma, Palazzo Barberini.
Fig. 16 Carlo Maratti, The Triumph of Clemency, 1672–73. Fresco. Rome, Palazzo Altieri. © Palazzo Altieri, Rome, Italy/Bridgeman Images.

Apotheosis of Baroque painting

The last thirty years of the seventeenth century were the most intense of Maratti’s career in terms of his artistic production. The vast 1672–73 Triumph of Clemency (fig. 16) frescoed on the vault of the Salone in the Altieri Palace, full of statuary figures levitating on clouds, exemplifies his articulation of the classicizing-academic approach in late Baroque decorations, so different from the illusionistic effects of Baciccio’s frescoed nave vault of the Gesù church situated in the same piazza. Yet the poignant representation of the Death of Saint Francis Xavier painted by Maratti in 1674–79 for the Negroni chapel in the same church (fig. 17) is nevertheless wholly “baroque” in conception and execution. As for portraiture, it is worth citing his 1677 one of Sir Thomas Isham in the Lamport Hall Preservation Trust, Northamptonshire (fig. 18), both tender and elegant in the representation of the young English nobleman captured in a reflective pause during his “Grand Tour” abroad.

Fig. 17 Carlo Maratti, Death of Saint Francis Xavier, 1674–79. Rome, Chiesa del Gesù. © Scala / Art Resource, NY.
Fig. 18 Carlo Maratti, Portrait of SirThomas Isham, 1677. 148 x 121 cm. Northamptonshire, Lamport Hall Preservation Trust.

With the enchanting 1679–81 Apollo Chasing Daphne commissioned by the minister Colbert for Louis XIV and now in the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts at Brussels (fig. 19), Maratti was honored with the brevet of “Peintre du Roi”, thus formally received in the prime court of Europe without moving from Rome. By this time, he had found his most valuable private patron in the very wealthy and discriminating Marchese Niccolò Maria Pallavicini, a Genoese banker who lived in Rome and was in the process of forming the most impressive contemporary art collection there. One of his numerous pictures by Maratti, the 1680– 92 Romulus and Remus now at Sanssouci in Potsdam, is indicative of the superb quality demanded by this exigent connoisseur, whereas another canvas of the same scope painted for Paolo Savelli in 1682-84, The Rape of Europa, now in the National Gallery of Ireland, is even garnished with flowers attributed to Karel van Vogelaer (fig. 20).

Fig. 19 Carlo Maratti, Apollo Chasing Daphne, 1679–81. 221.2 x 224 cm. Brussels, Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. © Peter Horree / Alamy Stock Photo.
Fig. 20 Carlo Maratti, The Rape of Europa, 1682–84. Oil on canvas, 248 × 424 cm. NGI.81. Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland. © National Gallery of Ireland.
Fig. 21 Carlo Maratti, Madonna with Saints Francis and James, 1687. Rome, Santa Maria in Montesanto. This photographic reproduction was provided by the Photo library of the Federico Zeri Foundation. The property rights of the author have been met.

Pallavicini’s major rival as a patron and collector of Maratti’s work was the banker Francesco Montioni from Spoleto who commissioned him in 1687 the Madonna with Saints Francis and James altarpiece for his family chapel under construction in Santa Maria in Montesanto (fig. 21). Indeed, when Montioni displayed the series of four overdoors with Maratti’s putti hoisting the garlands of flowers painted by Franz Werner van Tamm in 1693–95, two of which are now in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, Pallavicini immediately ordered replicas with variants from the two artists. The same is true of the series of “Donne illustri” (Famous women) that Montioni ordered from Maratti shortly thereafter; again, Pallavicini promptly asked the master for a replica of the Cleopatra Dissolving the Pearl now in the Museo del Palazzo Venezia in Rome (fig. 22) in which the model is ostensibly Maratti’s beautiful daughter Faustina, soon to become the most famous poetess of her day. In fact, her features reappear in the more stately Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well that he painted for Michelangelo Maffei around 1696 (fig. 23).

Fig. 22 Carlo Maratti, Cleopatra Dissolving the Pearl, 1693-95. Oil on canvas, 162 x 113 cm. Inv. PV 873. Venice, Rome, Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia. © Scala/Ministero per i Beni e le Attività culturali / Art Resource, NY.
Fig. 23 Carlo Maratti, Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, ca. 1696. Oil on canvas. Inv. n. 402. © Rome, Gallerie Nazionali d’Arte Antica di Roma, Galleria Corsini.

Maratti’s most spectacular late masterpiece is the Tempio della Virtù, or, more precisely, Marchese Niccolò Maria Pallavicini (1650–1714) Guided to the Temple of Virtue by Apollo with a Self-Portrait of the Artist—now in the National Trust Collection at Stourhead, Wiltshire (fig. 24). A putto (Fame) flies to place a crown of laurels on his head and Pallas Athena writes his virtues on a shield in the distance while Maratti, seated in the right foreground and flanked by the Three Graces, is designing the scene on a canvas. Begun around 1690 and completed before 1700, Maratti retouched it by adding on his breast the Cross of Cavaliere di Cristo, which he received from Clement XI in 1704. This, then, represents not only the apotheosis of Pallavicini but also, in a certain sense, that of Maratti himself. He had recently erected a tomb with his portrait bust in the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and in 1699 he was proclaimed “Principe” of the Academia di San Luca for the second time; moreover, following the bestowal of the Cross, both he and Faustina were elected members of the prestigious literary, Academia dell’Arcadia, founded in 1690 on the precedent of the “conversations” held in Rome by Queen Christina of Sweden.

Fig. 24 Carlo Maratti, Marchese Niccolò Maria Pallavicini (1650–1714) guided to the Temple of Virtue by Apollo with a Self-portrait of the Artist (detail), 1690–1700. Oil on canvas, 299.7 x 212 cm. Wiltshire, Stourhead House. The Hoare Collection. Photo: John Hammond. © National Trust Photo Library / Art Resource, N Y.

Last years and legacy

During the last decades of the seventeenth century, Maratti’s “School” held in his studio was the most frequented in Rome, even by foreign artists such as the portraitist Hugh Howard; he trained some three generations of talented painters, several of which had very successful careers, from Berrettoni and Passeri to Pietro de’ Pietri, Andrea Procaccini, Giuseppe Chiari, and Agostino Masucci. In the last years of his life, Maratti increasingly availed himself of their collaboration, especially in the execution of his major commissions due to the frailty of his old age, a case in point being the 1704–07 Assumption of the Virgin lateral canvas in the Albani Chapel of the Duomo of Urbino, completed by Chiari only in 1726. Consequently, his completely autograph pictures in the ultimate phase are primarily the small devotional ones such as the exquisite 1697 Christ Child Sleeping Surrounded by Music-Making Angels in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (fig. 25). With the election of Cardinal Gianfrancesco Albani as Clement XI in 1700, also from the Marche and a longstanding admirer of his work, Maratti became the most trustworthy advisor for the ambitious artistic projects promoted by this pope. Moreover, he was commissioned to produce the cartoons for the mosaic decorations in the Baptismal Chapel and the atrium of the Presentation one in the basilica of San Pietro as well as the designs for the statues of the Apostles executed by the foremost sculptors active in Rome for the niches in the nave of San Giovanni in Laterano. Upon the death of his beloved wife Francesca Gommi in 1711, he made an inventory of his conspicuous collection and drew up a testament with subsequent codicils. From the latter it emerges that he was preparing a chaplainship for the town of Camerano and also a chapel in the church of Santa Faustina there adorned by the last altarpiece he painted, Saint Nicholas of Bari and the Three Boys, flanked by portrait busts of himself and Francesca sculpted by his friend Camillo Rusconi.

Fig. 25 Carlo Maratti, Christ Child Sleeping Surrounded by Music-Making Angels, 1697. Oil on wood, 120 x 98 cm. Paris, Musée du Louvre. INV.373. Photo: Stéphane Maréchalle. © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY.

Carlo Maratti died on December 15th at the venerable age of 88. His solemn funeral in Santa Maria degli Angeli was described as an exceptional event, attended by princes and prelates, ladies of rank, nephews of the Pope, Romans and foreigners plus all the members of the Academia di San Luca. A year later, Pallavicini, nominated his testamentary executor, as well as his gifted pupil, Passeri, died, and in 1716, Francesco Montioni. This sequence of demises was felt by the artistic community as the end of a fulgent and durable epoch. Faustina inherited his collection and sold a large portion of it for a vast sum to King Philip V of Spain in 1722. Quantities of his drawings were thereafter purchased and now are in the academies of San Fernando in Madrid, the Künstmuseum in Düsseldorf, and the Royal Collection in London. Giuseppe Chiari continued to maintain the influence of Maratti’s style and imagery up to 1726 and Agostino Masucci even to 1768; moreover, an ever increasing number of engravings after his paintings and drawings perpetuated Maratti’s inven- tions as models to be studied. Nevertheless, the Roman scene had already changed with the advent of Pompeo Batoni and other gifted contemporary painters. Therefore, it is interesting to recall in this context the generous comment of Anton Raphael Mengs, registered by G. N. d’Azara in 1783 at the threshold of the Neo-classical period: “Maratti sustained Roman painting so that it did not precipitate as elsewhere”. Fact of matter is that Maratti’s reputation had already eclipsed and would be resurrected only by the re-evaluation during the past century of the period in which he operated, prospered and became a dominant figure. ❖

A visitor looks at the Sacrifice of Noah at the exhibition opening reception of Paintings by Carlo Maratti, 2017
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