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Ippolito Scarsella (Scarsellino)Portrait of a Gentleman
Provenance: Suida-Manning Collection, New York Private Collection Exhibited: Venetian Paintings of the Sixteenth Century, Finch College Museum of Art, New York, October 30-December 15, 1963, no. 31. Veronese & His Studio in North American Collections, Birmingham Museum of Art, Oct. 1-Nov. 15, 1972, and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Dec. 5-Dec. 31, 1972 Literature: Robert L. Manning, A Loan Exhibition of Venetian Paintings of the Sixteenth Century, exh. cat. New York 1963, cat. no. 31ill., as by Veronese Stephen Clayton and Edward Weeks, eds., introduction by David Rosand, Veronese & His Studio in North American Collections, Birmingham 1972, as by Veronese, p. 38 ill. Terisio Pignatti, Veronese, Venice 1976, I, p. 199, cat. no. A225, II, fig. 908, as attributed to Veronese Terisio Pignatti and Filippo Pedrocco, Veronese; catalogo completo dei dipinti, Florence 1991, no. 54°, as attributed to Veronese. Terisio Pignatti and Filippo Pedrocco, Veronese, Milan 1995, II, pp. 517-518ill., cat. no. A 56, under attributed paintings, by Veronese and workshop) John Garton, Grace and Grandeur; The Portraiture of Paolo Veronese, London-Turnhout 2008, p. 237, fig. 77, cat. no. R16, as workshop of Veronese. Scarsellino’s art is widely regarded as critical link between the Renaissance and the Baroque styles in Emilian painting; not only was he an important transmitter of the heritage of the Renaissance, but he was also open to innovative ideas, and was one of the earliest to experiment with the trend to naturalism that would become fundamental to art of the new century. Born around 1550, he received his earliest training from his father Sigismondo, an architect and painter; it was probably while working at his father’s side as a youth that he acquired the nickname Scarsellino, or “little Scarsella”. After absorbing the principles of his art in Ferrara and Parma, he went to Venice in 1570, staying for four years and working in the shop of Veronese. In the following decade, his art —especially in terms of its piety and its development of landscape— demonstrates a strong sympathy with that of the Carracci, with whom he worked in 1592-1593 at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara. Maria Angela Novelli and later Alessandra Frabetti both propose that Scarsellino traveled to Rome, although such a trip has not been documented; if he did travel to Rome, it probably would have occurred during the years that Scarsellino’s colleagues Agostino and Annibale Carracci were there, that is, beginning in 1595 and until 1609. The last decades of Scarsellino’s career again involve stylistic experimentation, this time in a manner that would bring his work very close to the progressive figurative naturalism of Carlo Bononi and prepare the way for Guercino. The present portrait of a distinguished gentleman had been long thought to be by Paolo Veronese and was in fact attributed to him by such distinguished connoisseurs as Adolfo Venturi and Wilhelm Suida. The portrait’s style is, however, distinct from Veronese’s, although clearly indebted to it, and the attribution to the young Scarsellino is wholly convincing. The painting would then date from the 1570s – a date confirmed by the costume the subject wears. The puffed hat that appears in the painting had a rather short-lived vogue in the early 1570s. One sees it in Giambattista Moroni’s Portrait of Count Spini, datable ca. 1573, in the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo and Bartolomeo Passarotti’s Portrait of the Perracchini Family (Rome, Galleria Colonna), of 1569, among other undated works. While the pinkish complexion of the subject’s face can be associated with later works by Scarsellino, the drapery background with its agitated highlights –called by Boschini “sfregazzi,” (usually translated as scumbles)-- are typical of Venetian painting and betray the artist’s training with Veronese.
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