next prev
Pietro della Vecchia
Lot No. 571 
Pietro della Vecchia

Pietro della Vecchia

(Venice or Vicenza, 1602/03–1678 Venice)
oil on canvas, 148.5 x 180 cm, unframed

We are grateful to Professor Bernard Aikema for confirming the attribution after examining the present painting in the original.

This monumental and impressive picture shows a muscular nude male figure toiling with a heavy stone he evidently tries to lift from the ground. The strong chiaroscuro effects as well as the subject matter relate to the art of the so-called tenebrosi, a group of painters active in Venice in the second half of the 17th Century. The main representatives are Giambattista Langetti, Johann Karl Loth, and Antonio Zanchi.

The painting shows the king Sisyphus, who was condemned by Zeus to carry a heavy boulder uphill; however the stone would fall from his hands every time he approached the summit, and so he became fated to repeat this hopeless task perpetually. This dramatic theme was painted by Antonio Zanchi in a picture now in The Hague, which is evidently based on Titian’s famous, earlier rendering of the theme for Mary of Hungary’s seat of Binche, near Brussels. Contrary to Titian and Zanchi, who depicted the tragic hero carrying the stone on his shoulder, the artist here chose the moment Sisyphus is beginning his never-ending ordeal by lifting the boulder with pain and fatigue.

Pietro della Vecchia´s long career is characterized by an almost chameleonic variety of artistic styles and influences however his manner is clearly recognizable from his expressive modes and certain details, such as the almost claw-like hands and the characteristic facial expression apparent in this work. Aikema has suggested that due to its size the present painting was probably destined to decorate the central hall (portego) of a Venetian palazzo and he has dated the work to the early 1660s.

We are grateful to Professor Bernard Aikema for his help in cataloguing the present lot.

Specialist: Mark MacDonnell

Pietro della Vecchia
Convert currency
  • realized price**
    EUR 24,700
    USD 28,500
  • estimate
    EUR 20,000 to 30,000
    USD 23,000 to 34,500

Mon.-Fri.: 9.00am - 6.00pm (CET)
+43 1 515 60 200


Old Master Paintings
Date: 15.10.2013, 17:00
Location: Palais Dorotheum Vienna
Exhibition: 05.10. - 15.10.2013

**Purchase price incl. all charges, commissions and taxes

Bids can no longer be placed via the internet. The auction is in preparation or has already taken place.

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience.
By using our webpages, you agree to the use of cookies. Further information