Lot 309
  • 309

Pietro Fabris

300,000 - 400,000 USD
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  • Pietro Fabris
  • Villagers preparing to depart for the festival of the Madonna dell'Arco
  • signed and dated lower left: P.r Fabris.  / P: 1773.
  • oil on canvas
  • 129,5 x 182,9 cm


With Frost & Reed, London;
With Matthiesen Gallery, London;
With Samuel Botero & Associates, New York;
American private collection;
By whom sold anonymously ("Property of a West Coast Private Collector"), New York, Sotheby's, 5 June 2008, lot 143, where acquired.


N. Spinosa, Pittura napoletana del Settecento, Naples 1987, p. 163, cat. no. 310, reproduced fig. 410 (as incorrectly dated 1792).


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. The lining to this work is fairly recent. The surface is stable and the canvas is well stretched. The paint layer is restored. The restoration is effective and clearly visible under ultraviolet light. Retouches that address thinness can be seen in the upper left sky and in the center sky running from the horizon to the top edge. The tree in the upper left shows only a few isolated restorations. Slight abrasion throughout the figure group is visible to the naked eye, some of which has received retouches and some of which is unrestored. One could continue to address some of the thinness to the details in the lower half of the picture, but the work can certainly also be hung in its current state.
"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

Fabris' colorful palette and lively compositions, most often celebrations of the daily life of the city and its surroundings, had obvious appeal to the Grand Tourists who visited Naples; but his greatest patron and supporter by far was Sir William Hamilton, the British ambassador (see lot 307).  Indeed, a rediscoverd depiction of the Festival of the Madonna dell'Arco from the Hamilton collection was sold in these rooms and set a record price for the artist at the time (Sotheby's New York, 23 January 2003, lot 112).

This impressive canvas is typical of Fabris' work, and is amongst the largest. It depicts local people preparing to embark on the short journey to the shrine of the Madonna dell'Arco, at the foot of Vesuvius.  The festival was one of the most important events in the Neapolitan religious calendar and was held on Pasquetta (Easter Monday) each year.  By the seventeenth century the event had taken on a fair-like atmosphere, with locals all converging on the church and stopping along the way to eat, dance and play music, as depicted in the present canvas.  The two figures holding castanets and dancing the tarantella just to the left of center of the composition relate to a drawing by Fabris in a private collection (fig. 1).