75
75
Jacopo Carucci, called Pontormo
MARCUS CURTIUS LEAPING INTO THE ABYSS
Estimate
300,000500,000
LOT SOLD. 365,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
75
Jacopo Carucci, called Pontormo
MARCUS CURTIUS LEAPING INTO THE ABYSS
Estimate
300,000500,000
LOT SOLD. 365,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Master Paintings: Part I

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New York

Jacopo Carucci, called Pontormo
PONTORMO NEAR EMPOLI 1494 - 1556 FLORENCE
MARCUS CURTIUS LEAPING INTO THE ABYSS

Provenance

Prof. Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm, Freiherr von Bissing, 1911;
Anonymous sale, Munich, Helbing, February 16-17, 1928, lot 355 (as Beccafumi);
Anonymous sale ("The Property of a Gentleman"), London, Sotheby's, July 10, 1974, lot 25 (as Pontormo);
Anonymous sale ("The Property of a Swiss Collector"), London, Sotheby's, July 6 1983, lot 33 (as Pontormo).

Exhibited

Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino, Diverging paths of Mannerism, 8 March - 20 July 2014, no. I.2.7 (as Pontormo).

Literature

H. Nasse, "Gemälde aus der Sammlung des Univ. Prof. Dr. Freih. v. Bissing," in Münchner Jahrbuch, 1911, p. 328;
P. Costamagna, Pontormo, Milan 1994, under rejected attributions, p. 303, cat. no. A71 (as probably by a student of Andrea del Sarto);
C. Falciani, "Spigolature sul Bronzino (e sul Pontormo)", in Paragone, 111, 2013, pp. 35-36, reproduced plate 32 (as Pontormo);
C. Falciani and A. Natali, Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino, Diverging Paths of Mannerism, Florence 2014, p. 52-53, cat. no. I.2.7., reproduced p. 53 (as Pontormo).

Catalogue Note

Though known in earlier literature, it was in 2012 that Andrea De Marchi recognized the quality of this charming panel and tentatively suggested it to be a youthful work by Pontormo.1  Carlo Falciani later upheld the attribution, and published the painting in 2013, dating it between 1513 and 1515 (see Literature).  The painting was subsequently included in the exhibition, Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino, Diverging Paths of Mannerism, held in Florence in the spring of last year, (see Literature and Exhibited).  Falciani notes that the swift brushwork and seemingly hasty formulation of the panel medium, with its thinly applied layer gesso, is entirely in keeping with rushed preparations for an “ephemeral occasion” such as a Carnevale.2  Ordered by the Medici, these celebratory pageants were grand affairs with processions of elaborately decorated floats and sumptuous costumes.

The young Pontormo, was involved in the decoration of floats for the Carnevale of 1513, held in Florence and his paintings were based on designs by Andrea del Sarto.  Most compelling in terms of the attribution is the beautiful preparatory drawing revealed in infrared reflectograms beneath the paint surface which are indisputably by Pontormo's own hand (fig. 1).  The fluid, confident designs are entirely typical of the artist, with billowing outlines to the limbs and broad, rounded thighs.   As Falciani indicates, this graphic style is comparable with two sheets by Pontormo, one in a French private collection and the other in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence (inv. no. GDSU. 662 F verso).3  The two drawing were preparations for the artist's fresco in the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata, Florence, which dates between 1513 and 1515, contemporaneous with the present painting.4

In the Carnevale of 1513, five of the seven floats in the procession were dedicated to prominent figures of Ancient Rome.5  These Roman themes were aptly suited to celebrations held by the Medici, promoting the paradigm of moral heroism, military boldness and a patriotic loyalty to the Republic.6  This valiantly selfless paradigm is epitomized in the story of Marcus Curtius.  According to Livy’s History of Rome, an earthquake of great seismic force had opened an immeasurable crevasse in the ground at the Forum at Rome.  Unable to fill its incalculable depth, the citizens of Rome sought the counsel of soothsayers who declared they must sacrifice to the abyss the greatest treasure of the Roman People:

“Thereupon Marcus Curtius, a young soldier of great prowess, rebuked them, so the story runs, for questioning whether any blessing were more Roman than arms and valor.  A hush ensued as he turned to the temples of the immortal gods which rise above the Forum, and to the Capitol, and stretching forth his hands, now to heaven, now to the yawning chasm and to the gods below, he devoted himself to death.  After which, mounted on a horse caparisoned with all possible splendor, he plunged fully armed into the gulf.”7

1.  Oral communication upon firsthand inspection.
2.  C. Falciani, 2014, under Literature.
3.  J. Cox-Rearick, "Aggiunte al 'corpus' dei disegni del Pontormo: 1981-1994", in R.P. Ciardi and A. Natali, Pontormo e Rosso: atti del convegno di Empoli e Volterra progetto Appiani di Piombino, Florence 1996, p. 65, reproduced figs. 1-2.
4.  C. Falciani, 2014, op. cit.
5.  Ibid.
6.  Ibid.
7.  Livy, History of Rome, VII:6, B.O. Foster ed., vol. III, Cambridge Mass. 1924, p. 375.

Master Paintings: Part I

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New York