Lot 58
  • 58

Giulio Cesare Procaccini

600,000 - 800,000 USD
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  • Giulio Cesare Procaccini
  • The Capture of Christ
  • signed with initials lower left G.C.P.

  • oil on canvas


Possibly Abraham Darby (His Sale, Christie's, London, June 8, 1867, lot 99, where a painting by Giulio Cesare Procaccini of "Christ led to Calvary" of similar size as the present painting is recorded) where bought by Cox;
With Tomas Harris, London, 1937;
Private collection, Barcelona, by 1945;
With Piero Corsini, New York, and thence by descent;
Sold by the family, New York, Sotheby's, January 25, 2007, lot 45;
There purchased by the present collector for $1,272,000.


Barcelona, Palacio de la Virreina, El arte en la pasion de nuestro Señor, March 1945, cat. no. 13;
Monaco, Maison d'Art, Genua Tempu Fà, 24 October - 24 November, 1997, cat. no. 2;
London, Agnew's, Millenium Exhibition, 2000, cat. no. 6;
Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, Titian to Tiepolo: Three Centuries of Italian Art, March 28 – June 16, 2002, (continuing to Melbourne Museum), cat. no. 33;
New York, Hall & Knight Ltd., Procaccini in America, October 15 - November 23, 2002, cat. no. 8.


M. Trens, El Arte en la Pasion de Nuestro Señor, exhibition catalogue, Barcelona, 1945, cat. no. 13 ;
A Pérez Sánchez, Pintura Italiana del Siglo XVII en España, Madrid, 1965, p. 364;
C. Thompson & H. Brigstocke, Shorter Catalogue. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1970, pp. 70-71;
N.W. Neilson, "An Altarpiece by Giulio Cesare Procaccini and Some Further Remarks," Arte Lombarda, 37, 2, 1972, pp. 22-25, illus., fig. 1;
H. Brigstocke, "Preview to the Lombard exhibition of the 17th Century art in Italy, an opportunity to study G.C. Procaccini's chronology," Connoisseur, 1973, p. 15;
P. Cannon-Brookes, Lombard Painting, c. 1595- c. 1630: The Age of Federico Borromeo, Birmingham, 1974, p. 187;
H. Brigstocke, 1974, p. 691;
H. Brigstocke, "G.C. Procaccini Reconsidered," Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen, 1976, no. 18, 1976, pp. 88-89, note 33;
H. Brigstocke, Italian and Spanish Paintings in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1978, p. 108;
H. Brigstocke, Italian and Spanish Paintings in the National Gallery of Scotland, revised edition, Edinburgh, 1993, p. 125, note 11;
M. Rosci, Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Soncino, 1993, pp. 42, 110;
H. Brigstocke in Genua Tempu Fa, exhibition catalogue, Monaco, 1997, pp. 7-13, cat. no. 2.;
Titian to Tiepolo: Three Centuries of Italian Art, Milan 2002, pp. 116-117, cat. no. 33;
H. Brigstocke, Procaccini in America, London & New York, 2002, pp. 41, 90-93, cat. no. 8; 97, p. 180; illus., frontispiece; p. 43, plate 81; p. 91;  p. 97, fig. 14; p. 180.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com , an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting has been recently restored and should be hung as is. The canvas has been lined, the paint layer is stable, has been well varnished and accurately retouched. The artist originally painted this picture on two sections of canvas joined vertically and running through the ear of the figure directly to the left of Christ. This join is stable, very slightly visible and may never have broken apart. The picture overall seems to be in unusually good condition. Under ultraviolet light the varnish applied to the pictures seems to be slightly milky yet we do not think that this milkiness disguises any retouches. There are retouches clearly visible under ultraviolet light in a few isolated spots. The original canvas join has attracted a few restorations in the lower reaches of the picture. There are some restorations to isolated damages, one in the lower right, some beneath the illuminated foot in the lower center and another group beneath the hands in the center left. More than just a few very isolated spots of retouching are impossible to see either under ultraviolet light or with the naked eye and it seems that this is a picture in remarkably good condition.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

By the end of the second decade of the 17th Century, Procaccini had firmly established himself as one the leading artists in the competitive and vibrant Milanese art market.  He had been selected to paint a group of canvases for the Duomo as early as 1609 (the "Quadroni" depicting scenes from the life of San Carlo Borromeo), along with other artists including Cerano, and had continued to attract a number of the most prestigious ecclesiastical commissions in the city.  His reputation had spread further afield as well, and orders for his work arrived from nearby Turin, Cremona and Genoa, as well as from the Emilian cities of Modena and Parma. 

It is from this moment of success that this dramatic and powerful Capture of Christ dates1.  The composition is dynamically and dramatically rendered, with the imposing but serene figure of Christ forcefully twisted forward in the pictorial space by the half-lit figures of the soldiers behind, suggested in a series of overlapping heads and contorting  limbs.  The effects of light and dark are skillfully handled by Procaccini and the subdued palette (the only strong colors in the composition are the rich red robe of Christ and the yellow cuirass of the soldier that tugs him forward) create a sculptural, almost frieze-like effect, somehow rendering the picture even more monumental.  This attention to volume and form may betray Procaccini's own training as a sculptor, as was noted by his contemporaries2.  The composition certainly demonstrates an awareness of contemporary Flemish painting, an influence which may have been filtered through Genoa, where Procaccini visited in 1618, staying with his great patron Gian Carlo Doria3

The Capture of Christ is one of only a dozen or so signed works by Procaccini and it relates to a group of other large canvases of about the same dimensions which share a similar theme.  In the late 1610s, Procaccini produced a number of large-scale canvases that treated the subject of the Passion.  This Capture of Christ is one of these pictures.  Others in the group include a Flagellation (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, signed); the Mocking of Christ (Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, signed); an Ecce Homo (Dallas, Museum of Art); a Raising of the Cross (Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland) and a Pietà (private collection)4.  All of the paintings are of large format, and stylistic similarities suggest some relationship between them, although exactly what that might be is as yet unclear.  Brigstocke has proposed a number of possibilities, including that many of the group may have comprised a "Passion cycle" for a religious institution where they were simply unrecorded in period sources.5  Equally, some of the pictures may have a relation while others do not; the correspondence of the Boston Flagellation, similar in size and signed in the same block capital initials, very close in use of lighting effects and with a restrained palette, suggests a connection with the present picture.  However, the same may be said about the Mocking of Christ in Sheffield, also signed by Procaccini in the same way and of the same size.  In fact, Jonathan Bober related the Boston and Sheffield pictures, and suggested that they might have formed lateral canvases in a chapel by Procaccini, possibly with the Edinburgh Crucifixion as the central focus, an assertion which Brigstocke examines but hesitates to endorse given the number of other canvases group, which may also somehow figure into the scenario6.

1.  Brigstocke dates the present painting to 1616-20 (see literature 2002); Rosci dates it to the middle of the decade; Neilsen dates it to "the years around 1620," op. cit., p. 25.
2.  The Milanese collector and connoisseur Girolamo Borsieri (1588–1629) wrote in a letter of 1619 to Scipione Toso, that Procaccini was "il più vecchio de' quali nella sicurezza del disegno non trova oggi chi lo pareggi, e il più giovane che, con l'esser passato dalla scoltura alla pittura, pur ha potuto in pochi giorni rendersi prattico nella maniere illustrate del Parmigiano [sic] e dal Correggio [the oldest of those whom for sureness of drawing one today cannot find equal, and the youngest of whom, having left the art of sculpture for painting, has been able in but a few days to make himself an expert in the pictorial manner of Parmigianino and Correggio]" see L. Caramel, Arte e Artistici nell'Epistolario di Girolamo Borsieri, Milano, 1966, p. 174, letter LXIX.
3.  Rosci suggests the influence of the young Rubens, with Titianesque and Tintorettoesque elements; Brigstocke makes an interesting comparison to Van Dyck's Betrayal in Bristol, although as he notes that picture it would most likely have been completed before the artist's trip to Genoa and at about the same time as Procaccini's stay there.
4.  See Brigstocke, Op. cit., p. 42.
5.  See Brigstocke  Op cit., p. 92.
6.  See J. Bober, "A 'Flagellation of Christ' by Giulio Cesare Procaccini: Program and Pictorial Style in Borromean Milan," Arte Lombarda, 73-74-75, pp. 55-80; and Brigstocke, op. cit.,  pp. 95-97.