Lot 48
  • 48

Bartolomeo Schedoni

300,000 - 400,000 USD
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  • Bartolomeo Schedoni
  • Saint John the Baptist in a landscape
  • oil on canvas


Signora Dal Pozzo collection, Villa Casaloffia, Emilia;
Thence by descent to the present owner.


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 work has not been cleaned for many years and certainly will respond to cleaning. The canvas has an old lining, which is made from two pieces of linen joined horizontally though the center, but it seems that the original painting is on a single piece of linen. While the paint layer is stable, the cracking is raised; a re-examination of the lining will certainly provide a better surface. There have been some broad retouches in the stone block on which the figure sits that have slightly dulled over time. Although there may be retouches beneath an older varnish - particularly in the darker colors - the quality of the work and its condition will greatly improve once the work is cleaned.
"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

This unpublished, autograph painting of Saint John the Baptist is not only a remarkable discovery, but a superb example of the artist’s naturalistic figure painting.  The exquisite treatment of the face, half cast in shadow, with an expression that is hesitant yet immediately engaging, the mouth partially open as if in speech, is typical of the artist.  The painting relates to a Saint John the Baptist in a private collection in Vignola, Modena (fig. 1), which is similar in dimensions to this picture, and had been considered superior among the previously known versions.1  In both the Vignola canvas and in another version in the Capella dell’Ospedale, Parma, Saint John holds his staff with both hands, while in two smaller treatments of the subject (one in the Pinacoteca, Imola and the other in the Galleria Estense, Modena, fig. 2), the figure points with his right hand towards the landscape beyond, as we see here.3  In the present painting, Saint John’s right hand indicates the figure of Christ, who stands on the bank of the river, perhaps intended to be the River Jordan in which he was baptized.

In 1770, Gian Filiberto Pagani described a Saint John the Baptist by Schedoni in the Este collection:

 “S. Giovanni sedente sopra di un sasso posto in folto di varj
intrecciati alberi che formano grazioso contrapposto al basso
 orizzonte, accenna Nostro Signore che va al Castello di Emaus;
opera tenuta dello Sghidone.”2                  

The Schedoni Saint John is mentioned again in the 1797 inventory of the Este collection, compiled by Giuseppe Soli.4   The aforementioned mentioned version of Saint John in the Galleria Estense collection, however, is not only considered to be a copy, but it does not include the figure of Christ in the background.5  In the same inventory, Soli mentions a "S. Gio. Battista seduto sopra rovine di fabbriche.  Copia che viene dal Sghedoni"  which may refer to the Galleria Estense copy.6  It is tempting therefore to associate the present painting, both superior in quality and explicit in Saint John's gesture toward Christ, with that canvas described by Pagani and Soli in the Este collection.

We are grateful to Nicosetta Roio and Emilio Negro for endorsing an attribution of this painting to Bartolomeo Schedoni on the basis of photographs.

1.  For a list of versions see F. Dallasta and C. Cecchinelli, Bartolomeo Schedoni, pittore emiliano, Modena 1578 – Parma 1615, Parma 1999, p. 151 – 153, reproduced p. 350 – 351, figs. 55A - 55D; the Vignola measures 136 by 92 cm.
2.  G. F. Pagani, Descrizioni delle pitture e dei disegni che esistono nel grande ducale appartimento di Francesco III, Modena 1770, p. 173; translates: “Saint John seated upon a rock in front of various interwoven trees that form a graceful contrapposto on the lower horizon, gesturing to Our Lord who is going to the Castle of Emmaus; work given to Schedoni.”  
3.  The Imola and Modena versions measure 40 by 32 cm. and 47.2 by 33 cm. respectively.
4.  G. Soli, “Inventario dei quadri provvenuti dal Palazzo Nazionale, compliato da Giuseppe Soli, 6 settembre 1797”, in A. Venturi, La Regia Galleria Estense, Modena 1883, p. 396, inv. no. 44.
5.  F. Dallasta and C. Cecchinelli, op. cit., cat. no. 55 (3), reproduced fig. 55D.
6.  Translates:  "Saint John the Baptist seated upon farm ruins, Copy coming from Schedoni"; G. Soli, op. cit., inv. no. 168.