PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
Some of Della Vecchia's most celebrated works are his secular subjects - character heads and half-length warriors. The popularity of this impressive composition is attested to by the number of surviving versions, examples which can be found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; the Musée du Louvre, Paris; and the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden.2 Bernard Aikema dates the Vienna picture to circa 1640 or shortly before. A detailed description of a painting by Della Vecchia in La carta del navegar pitoresco (1660) by Marco Boschini, the art critic/dealer and friend of the artist, appears to describe this very composition: "Con un pugnal là una figura tresca,/ E tien bizaro in testa un bareton;/ De raso bianco la veste un zipon:/ Figura in suma aponto zorzonesca." 3
This painting was once owned by the prominent art collector and dealer, Sir George Donaldson (1845-1925). It was acquired from him by Vernon James Watney who at the time owned Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, formerly the home of Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon. According to the 1915 catalogue of the Watney collection (see Literature), Donaldson had acquired the painting from Baron Lazzaroni in Rome and it was said to have once been in the Orléans collection.
1. The artist was widely known as "Pietro Muttoni" until recently, a mistaken identification first proposed by Luigi Lanzi (1732-1810) in his Storia pittorica della Italia, 1795/96, based on a confusion with the name of a collector, Muttoni.
2. See Aikema, Pietro della Vecchia and the Heritage of the Renaissance in Venice, Florence 1990, under cat. no. 211, versions A-J.
3. "There a figure threatens with a dagger,/ And has covered his head with an extravagant beret;/ Of white cloth is his vest:/ In brief a truly Giorgionesque figure," see Aikema, ibid., p. 44, and footnote 30.
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