The idea of the anthropomorphic figure probably came to Stanchi via the examples of Francesco Zucchi, a painter of Florentine birth and a contemporary of Caravaggio who is in fact now credited with some of the still lifes previously thought to be Caravaggio's own. Zucchi's own set of the Four Seasons is thought to be the direct inspiration for the design of three of the present four compositions (all except Spring, which differs in its frontal, rather than profile, pose).1 The attribution of his Four Seasons is based on a comparison with the single anthropomorphic figure on which Luigi Salerno found the initials FZ in the 1980s.2
Another set of the seasons in which all four, including Spring, follow the example of Zucchi, are recorded by Bocchi in an unknown location and attributed to Giovanni Stanchi.3 The present set compares favourably with these and indeed seems to be of higher quality and certainly in a better state of preservation. Bocchi records a further example of Autumn and one of Summer, by Stanchi and also in an unknown location.4 As with all of Stanchi's best still lifes the present examples are characterised by their rich colouring and expert modelling of the still-life elements.
1. See L. Salerno, La natura morta italiana, Rome 1984, reproduced p. 55, figs 14.3–6.
2. Naples, Capodimonte. Ibid., p. 53, fig. 14.1.
3. G. and U. Bocchi, Pittori di natura morta a roma, artisti italiana 1630–1750, Viadana 2005, reproduced p. 274, figs FS.31–FS.34.
4. Bocchi 2005, p. 275, figs FS.35–36.
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