A still life listed in the Fondazione Zeri Fototeca bears a great similarity with the present work.1 The canvas is last recorded in the Spark collection, New York, and features a very comparable blue and white chipped platter bearing the profile of a Roman emperor, the same upturned brass candle stick, the knife handle balanced on the stone ledge, and a similarly rendered fish in the foreground. The Spark painting bears the initials I.A. on the edge of an upturned plate, and so (along with a small group of paintings by the same hand, not all bearing the initials) has been proposed to be the work of an unknown master referred to as the Monogrammist I.A.2
Professor Spinosa suggests, however, that the letters I.A. are perhaps the initials of the artist's patron, or more probably the initials of the craftsman responsible for the majolica pottery on which they feature. There are known to have been such craftsmen within the Recco family. The similarities in style between the present work, others gathered under the name of the Monnogrammist I.A., and signed works by Recco from the 1660s, leads Professor Spinosa to include them in the œuvre of Giuseppe Recco.
1 Zeri number: 86323.
2 See the following for entries under the Monogrammist I.A.: C. Gilbert, Baroque painters of Naples, exh. cat., Sarasota 1961, nos 41–42; R. Causa, 'La natura morta a Napoli nel Sei e nel Settecentro', in Storia di Napoli, Naples 1972, vol. II, pp. 1015–16; F. Bologna, Paesaggi e nature morte dall'Italia e dall'Europa del nord tra XVI e XVIII secolo, exh. cat., Rome 1985, pp. 100–01; F. Zeri, La natura morta in Italia, vol. II, Milan 1989, p. 914.
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