Lot 21
  • 21

LUCA GIORDANO, CALLED FA PRESTO | A wounded beggar;A beggar wrapped in blankets

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
187,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Studio of Luca Giordano
  • A wounded beggar;A beggar wrapped in blankets
  • the latter inscribed on the note on the head of the woman: Fate un[a] / carità / ad una / Vergog[n]osaand monogrammed on the plate: L.G.
  • a pair, both oil on canvas


Possibly commissioned by Marco di Lorenzo for the Pio Monte dei Poveri Vergognosi, Naples, circa 1670; Private collection, USA;

With Galerie Canesso, Paris.


R. Lattuada in Galerie Canesso, Luca Giordano, Paris 2015, online publication; R. Lattuada, 'Due dipinti di Luca GIordano per un evento effimero nel Monte dei Poveri Vergognosi di Napoli, e qualche nota sulle istituzioni caritativoli a Napoli nella seconda metà del Seicento', in Rendiconti dell'Accademia di Archeologia, Lettere e Belle Arti di Napoli, N.S., vol. LXXVIII, 2016–17;

L. Coiro, 'Memoria di un ricco beccaio: Marco di Lorenzo tra Masaniello e viceré', in Napoli Nobilissima, series VII, vol. III, 2017, files II–III, pp. 54–58.

Catalogue Note

These two unusual canvases were painted by Luca Giordano, that most chameleon-like of baroque artists, in around 1670. In the first painting we find an injured man, his head revealing a wound around the eye, his legs hurt or broken. In the cap he extends towards us we find a solitary coin, while the child to the right does his best to draw further attention to his companion. In the second painting we also find a figure asking for alms, this time a lady of good birth who has found economic hardship and wears a cape over her face to hide her identity and her shame (the meaning of 'vergogna' in Italian). Beside her a child is also clad in rags, and the two parsnips under the jug seem to be all their next meal will offer them. Lattuada reasonably suggests that the subject of the pictures probably discounts a commission from a private patron. Quoting archival discoveries made by Eduardo Nappi, Lattuada associates the two works with a probable commission by a charitable institution in Naples called the Pio Monte dei Poveri Vergognosi which on 1 February 1670 is listed as paying Giordano 15 ducats and then a further 25 'per li ritratti che doverà fare per servizio de detto Monte'.1 Three weeks later he was paid 5 ducats and 26 grana for the remaining balance and for the frames of the 'due tabbelle del detto Monte'.2 Lattuada convincingly argues that this relatively small sum of money was well below the amount Giordano would normally have charged and that this relative discount would befit work carried out for a charity. He also proposes that the word 'ritratto' be considered in a broader sense, in this case as a depiction of poverty, rather than as a literal portrait of a person.

Furthermore, Lattuada quotes the findings of Luigi Coiro (see Literature), who proposes that the money available to the Pio Monte was a direct result of the bequest of a certain Marco di Lorenzo, a butcher who left a fabulous amount of money to several charities in Naples upon his death. The present canvases would have been painted for the Pio Monte to illustrate the types of charitable good deeds they undertook and were exhibited as processional banners during di Lorenzo's funeral.

The attribution has been independently endorsed by Professors Giuseppe Scavizzi and Riccardo Lattuada; the latter's comprehensive study of the works (see Literature) serves as the basis for this note.

1 Archivio Storico Banco di Napoli, Banco dei Poveri, matricola 451 and 453, quoted from E. Nappi, 'Momenti della vita di Luca Giordano nei documenti dell'Archivio Storico del Banco di Napoli', in Ricerche sul '600 napoletano, 1991, pp. 161, 164, note 101, p. 174, doc nos. 138–39.

2 Archivio Storico di Napoli, Banco dei Poveri, giornale matricola 453: 'Partita di 5 Ducati e 26 grana del 21 febbraio 1670./ Alli Governatori del Monte dei Poveri Vergognosi conto corrente ducati 5,26. Et per essi a don Teodoro Giura loro secretario, dissero per saldo e final pagamento di tutte le spese fatte per le due cornici fatte per le due tabelle del detto Monte, come ogni altra spesa fatta per servizio del detto Monte, isuta il libro di spese da detti Signori visto e liquidato dal loro Rationale'.