This beautiful panel was likely intended to be integrated within a piece of furniture. The swirling floral pattern still visible on the panel’s reverse suggest it was intended to be viewed from both sides and was perhaps conceived as part of a lettuccio (bedstead) or even a panel from a carriage. Two meticulously painted triangular additions were at one stage appended to the lower corners, perhaps to replace pieces once cut away to fit another furnishing, or to give the panel a more unified rectangular form thus allowing it to hang independently.
The figures here are less mannered than those executed by Lodovico Pozzoserrato, a Flemish artist working Italy who specialised in such garden scenes, and this unknown hand appears to be more skilled, highlighting their bright drapery with shimmering highlights to imbue the figures with a certain lightness and lyricism of movement. Peter Humfrey and Bernard Aikema both independently date this painting to between 1560 and 1570, predating Pozzoserrato who came to Italy only in 1573 and moved to the Veneto area in 1582. The costumes in this painting, with broad, square necked bodices worn over open-collared, white partlets by the ladies, and tall hats worn by the gentlemen, are indeed in keeping with fashions of the 1560s. This dating would also discount the attribution of Bonifazio Veronese proposed while the painting was with Colnaghi and in the 1934 Birmingham exhibition (see under Exhibited), as the artist died in 1553.
We are grateful to Bernard Aikema and Peter Humfrey for their assistance in dating this painting on the basis of photographs.
1. M. Lucca, La Pittura Nel Veneto: Il Cinquecento, vol. II, p. 692, reproduced fig. 762-763 and p. 694, reproduced fig. 766.
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