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Details & Cataloguing

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Pietro Paolo Bonzi, called Gobbo dei Frutti or Gobbo dei Carracci
CORTONA CIRCA 1576 - 1636 ROME
STILL LIFE WITH GRAPES, PEACHES, POMEGRANATES, APPLES, MELON AND FIGS, ALL ON A MARBLE LEDGE 

Provenance

Falanga collection, Milan;
With Paolo Sapori, Spoleto.

Exhibited

Pontedera, Centro per l'arte Otello Cirri, Luce e ombra: Caravaggismo e naturalismo nella pittura toscana del Seicento, March - June 2005, no. 33;
Turin, Fondazione Accorsi, L'incantesimo dei sensi: una collezione di nature morte del Seicento per il Museo Accorsi, 30 November 2005 - 1 May 2006, no. 6;
Rome, Galleria Borghese, L'origine della natura morta in Italia. Caravaggio e il Maestro di Hartford, November 2016 - February 2017, no. 25.

Literature

A. Cottino, in La natura morta al tempo di Caravaggio, Naples 1995, p. 62-63, reproduced p. 63, fig. 6;
A. Cottino, "Pietro Paolo Bonzi detto il Gobbo dei frutti o il Gobbo dei Carracci," in E. Negro and M. Pirondini, eds., La Scuola dei Carracci: I Seguachi di Annibale e Agostino, Modena 1995, pp. 126-127, reproduced fig. 157;
A. Cottino, in Luce e ombra: Caravaggismo e naturalismo nella pittura toscana del Seicento, exhibition catalogue, Pisa 2005, pp. 94-95, cat. no. 33 reproduced;
A. Cottino,  L'incantesimo dei sensi: una collezione di nature morte del Seicento per il Museo Accorsi, exhibition catalogue, Turin 2005 pp. 50-51, 102, cat. no. 6, reproduced;
Connaissance des Arts, 2006, no. 634-636, reproduced p. 36;
A. Coliva and D. Dotti, L'origine della natura morta in Italia. Caravaggio e il Maestro di Hartford, exhibition catalogueMilan 2016, pp. 240-241, cat. no. 25, reproduced pp.  144, 191, 240.

Catalogue Note

This luscious still-life undoubtedly ranks among the most magnificent works within the small corpus of Pietro Paolo Bonzi, an Italian artist born in Cortona but active in Rome around the turn of the 17th century.  Although little is known of his life, according to Malvasia, Bonzi studied in Rome with the landscape artist Giovanni Battista Viola as well as the Carracci.  In addition to his landscapes of the Roman countryside that displayed the influence of the Carracci as well as artists such as Paul Bril and Adam Elsheimer, Bonzi also had a particularly strong talent in depicting still-lifes.  Even with his hunched back—a deformity that earned him the nickname Il Gobbo dei Frutti, or hunchback of the fruit—Bonzi was unrivalled in Rome during his lifetime in his sumptuous depictions of fruit and flowers.

This refined and opulent painting, which likely dates to the artist's mature period, not only demonstrates Bonzi's skills as an artist, but also exemplifies the evolution of the genre of the Italian still-life during the early seventeenth century. Here, a soft light shining from the upper left  illuminates the varied surfaces of the fruits, containers, and surfaces that define the balanced and naturalistic composition.  Rising above a marble table covered in a rich red cloth is a basin overflowing with grapes, pomegranates, apples and quinces that is reminiscent of Caravaggio’s famed Basket of Fruit in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan.1  Below the basin, from left to right, lies a basket of soft and fuzzy peaches, a rough melon, some delicate plums, a bunch of black grapes, and a plate of figs.  

1. Inv. no.151, oil on canvas, 41 by 64 cm. 

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