Elegant and rare 17th Italian Baroque painting for sale in Paris – UPDATED
UPDATE: This lot sold for €94,734 (€75,000 hammer price plus the buyer’s premium).
ORIGINAL POST: This handsome 17th century Italian Baroque painting by Giovanni Battista Boncori at Tajan’s December 11, 2013 Old Master Painting sale in Paris recently caught my eye.
The tight composition, elegant depiction of the figures, and deft use of a restricted palette are part of the appeal. So who is this guy? Information about the artist, like his extant body of work, is scarce and at times contradictory. According to a Wikipedia entry (which spells his last name Buonocore): “[H]e first trained with [Pier Francesco] Mola in Lombardy, then traveled to Parma, Venice, Ferrara, Cento, Florence, and Bologna, before settling in Rome.” A recent Sotheby’s catalogue entry for Rest on the Flight into Egypt attributed to the artist (that failed to sell) says: “Boncori trained in the workshop of Pier Francesco Mola between 1660-66.” Meanwhile, La Gazette Drouot, in a catalogue entry about another of the artist’s work, says Boncori arrived in Rome in 1660 and trained in Mola’s workshop (so when and where Boncori first met Mola is unclear, along with when he first gets to Rome).
According to La Gazette Drouot, after Boncori returned to Rome he was the guest of Cardinal Francesco Maria Mancini, brother of Lorenzo Mancini (the brother of Cardinal Mazarin). He received commissions from Mancini along with the Colonna family and the community of Dominicans. He entered the Academy of St. Luke in 1678, became professor five years later, then director in 1699, the year he died. Carlo Maratta succeeded him.
The Wikipedia entry also states:
He painted an altar-piece for the Chiesa degli Orfanelli at Rome. He is known there for a canvas of Martyrdom of San Gaetano which was once in the Villa Medici. He also painted a San Andrea Avellino, Massacre of the Innocents, St Anthony of Padua with Virgin and Child, and a Deposition. He painted a Crucifixion for the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. He also painted some frescoes in the tribune of the church of San Carlo al Corso. He painted the main altarpiece for the church of the Orfanelli. He painted a series of canvases depicting the victories of Hannibal at Ticino, Trebbia, Trasimeno, and Canae, and also the Defeat of Hasdrubal at the battle of Metauro.
The present work comes from the Koelliker Collection, having previously been in the collection Cardinal Luigi Alessandro Omodei (before 1682) and with the art dealers Altomani & Sons in Milan (2005). It was included in the 2005 exhibition: Mola and His Time: Figure Painting in Rome from the Koelliker Collection, and cited as follows: “One of the most important new acquisitions within the school of Mola, is Elias with the Angel by John Batiste Boncori, an artist who has been all but forgotten but that in the second half of the 1600’s was greatly appreciated and even became Prince of the Academy of Saint Luke.”
I think this is a very appealing picture, but I don’t know if it’s fresh to the market (relatively speaking, this was sold to the Koelloker Collection in 2005), if it’s shopped out.
Today about a dozen works are firmly attributed to the artist and two are owned by the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, VA – one titled The Musical Group has been in their collection since 1971.
The second work is a pendant – same dimensions, same models and almost a mirror image compositionally – and it came up at auction in Paris in May 2009.
Estimated at €120,000-150,000, the museum spent €409,795 (€350,000 hammer price plus buyer’s premium) and a year restoring the work. The Card Players now hangs next to The Musical Group.