Lot 7
  • 7

Giuseppe Cesari, called Cavaliere d'Arpino

80,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • Giuseppe Cesari, called Cavaliere d'Arpino
  • Saint Jerome in the desert
  • oil on panel
  • 20 1/2 by 22 7/8 in.; 52 by 58 cm.


Private collection, Italy;
With Antonacci and Lapiccirella Fine Art, 2014;
From whom acquired.


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. This work is painted on a heavy panel. The reverse shows three wooden reinforcements. There is one horizontal crack in the center of the work, which is visible but not active on the left side. There are other visible cracks in the dark colors of the rocks in the lower right. The paint layer is very healthy throughout the composition. The cracks in the panel have received a few retouches, but there is otherwise no paint loss or weakness. The retouches are not particularly effective, but the work can certainly 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

Arpino was the leading painter in Rome in the final decades of the 16th century. He belonged to a family of painters: his father, Muzio Cesari, was an artist as was his brother, Bernardino, who later became his principal assistant. From very early in his career, Cesari was patronized by an elite and important clientele. While still in his teens he was promoted by his master Niccolò Circignani from garzone to junior painter on the team which was frescoing part of the Vatican Loggie for Pope Gregory XIII. Although largely employed in ambitious decorative schemes, including a series of decorative friezes at the Palazzo del Quirnale (since destroyed), as well as the still extant frescoes in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome, it is for his more intimate scenes on panel, copper, slate and semi-precious stone, that Arpino is most admired. His position as the favored painter in Rome would remain fairly secure even after the arrival into the Eternal City of the Carracci and Caravaggio, the latter of whom was his pupil for a short time. This highly refined and luminous Saint Jerome in the desert was executed by Arpino circa 1600, when the artist was at the height of his popularity and overseeing the prestigious decoration of the transept of Saint John Lateran. Executed on panel, it demonstrates all of the hallmark qualities for which d'Arpino was renowned. The foliage, in particular, is beautifully rendered in minute detail and lush green pigments. This element of the composition compares well with the artist's glowing Rest on the Flight into Egypt in the Galleria Borghese (fig. 1). Furthermore, in its employment of a sweeping rocky landscape, and overall muted color range, the present picture also reveals its debt to Flemish landscape painting, and in particular that of Frederick van Valckenborch and Paul Bril, the latter of which was active in Rome for most of his career. This work has in fact previously been attributed to both artists, in each case based on comparison with a similarly composed Saint Jerome on canvas, also in the Galleria Borghese. That comparable work is one of six sopra porte (over-door) landscapes that formed part of Arpino’s personal collection. Herwarth Röttgen, who endorses the attribution of this painting to Cavaliere d'Arpino, now suggests that Arpino's pupil Flaminio Allegrini may in fact be the author of the Borghese canvas.

A copy of Professor Röttgen's certificate is available upon request.