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Pietro della Vecchia, called Pietro Muttoni – a pair (2)
Lot No. 290 
Pietro della Vecchia, called Pietro Muttoni – a pair (2)
  • Pietro della Vecchia, called Pietro Muttoni – a pair (2)
  • Pietro della Vecchia, called Pietro Muttoni – a pair (2)
  • Pietro della Vecchia, called Pietro Muttoni – a pair (2)
  • Pietro della Vecchia, called Pietro Muttoni – a pair (2)
  • Pietro della Vecchia, called Pietro Muttoni – a pair (2)
  • Pietro della Vecchia, called Pietro Muttoni – a pair (2)

Pietro della Vecchia, called Pietro Muttoni – a pair (2)

(Venice or Vicenza 1602/3–1678 Venice)
A Fortune Teller reading the palm of a Soldier; and
The Master and his young Pupil,
oil on canvas, each 37 x 48 cm, framed, a pair (2)

Provenance:
Giustiniani Collection, Venice;
by descent to the present owner

We are grateful to Mauro Lucco for confirming the attribution after examination of the originals.

The present works are from the collection of the Giustiniani family in Venice. In 1733, the branch of the family resident at San Stae already owned the Diluvio Universale [Great Flood] by della Vecchia (see: C.A. Levi, Le collezioni veneziane d’arte e d’antichità dal secolo XIV ai giorni nostri, Venice 1900, vol. I, p.190). These two paintings are characteristic of the artist and, as Marco Boschini (Carta del Navegar Pitoresco, Venice 1660, p. 502) observed: ‘non solo in far vechio h[a] pretension, / ma a far da niovo pretend[e] esser bon’. Boschini notes Della Vecchia as a great connoisseur of the previous century’s painting, able to imitate it with deceptive skill. Of one canvas he writes: ‘stago per dir; ne la me par busia; / che se Zorzon istesso la vedesse, / che anche lù tra de lù se confondesse, / co’l dire: l’ho fata mi; questa xè mia.” (p. 504). However, this imitative immersion in earlier art led to the the creation of something new. Although many of della Vecchia’s paintings are superficially reminiscent of Giorgione or Titian, his soldiers with broad feathered hats for example, their aura and manners are contemporary. Soldiers now become bandits and the wisdom of old age is tinged with folly, depicted by long unkempt beards and the miserably ragged clothing of peasant philosophers committed to esoteric practices. Sentiments are pushed to the extreme, stupidity and fear overcoming the depiction of simplicity and courage. This taste for exaggeration, bordering on the grotesque, was a central feature of the baroque style in Venice and della Vecchia himself was a key figure in its dissemination.

Despite originating in the same century as modern science, these works draw on a contemporary interest in introspection and self-knowledge. In one, a ragged philosopher’s speech causes his young pupil to draw back, as if struck by a realisation that literally illuminates his eyes and forehead. In the other, a fortune teller, wearing tight pince-nez glasses, reads the palm of a miles gloriosus, who is clearly worried and frightened by what he hears. This particular image replicates, on a smaller scale and with variants, a work in the Museo Civico, Venice, executed around the 1650s, as well as another in a private collection published by Pallucchini (La pittura veneziana del Seicento, Milano 1981, vol. I, p. 178, tav. XIII). The repetition of the same subjects, and even the same character heads, is typical of Pietro della Vecchia. Although clearly datable public commissions record the evolution of his career, the dating of his genre works remains problematic. Assuming that, as in his general artistic practice, the process of evolution is from greater complexity to simplicity, one can approximate a date around 1660.

Specialist: Mark MacDonnell

Pietro della Vecchia, called Pietro Muttoni – a pair (2)
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    EUR 30,000 to 40,000
    USD 34,500 to 45,500

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AUCTION DETAILS

Old Master Paintings
Date: 18.10.2016, 17:00
Location: Palais Dorotheum Vienna
Exhibition: 08.10. - 18.10.2016
Auctioneer:

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