188

Details & Cataloguing

Old Masters Day Sale

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Gaspare Traversi
NAPLES 1722/4 - 1770 (?) ROME
SAINT JOSEPH WITH THE CHRIST CHILD

Catalogue Note

Nicknamed the 'Italian Hogarth', Traversi was best known as a painter who lampooned the deportment of his bourgeois protagonists, abandoning the Baroque and Rococo mainstream of 18th century Neapolitan art to return to the joyful, and often satirical tradition of worldly entertainment. His early style, which had much in common with that of the elderly Francesco Solimena to whom Traversi was apprenticed, later gave way to the influence of the naturalist painters of the previous generation: Preti, Caracciolo, Ribera and Filippo Vitale, whose works he studied closely. This composition of Joseph tenderly leaning over the wriggling infant dates to Traversi's mature period of the late 1750s and 60s, and is typical of the artist's work in its close crop and high viewpoint.

Whilst the artists favourite subjects were genre scenes and portraits, he painted many religious works for, among others, the church of Santa Maria dell'Aiuto in Naples, San Paolo Fuori le Mura in Rome, and Parma Cathedral. But by this late date, much of Traversi's output was concerned with satirical genre scenes. This intimate depiction of father and baby forms part of a small and rare group of religious works from this period, along with his Penitent Saint Jerome and Magdalene, both in private Neapolitan collections.1

A second autograph version of this composition, dated by Professor Nicola Spinosa to circa 1760, is in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.2 We are grateful to Professor Spinosa for endorsing the attribution of the present painting to Traversi upon inspection of digital images.

1 N. Spinosa, Gaspare Traversi, Napoletani del '700 tra miseria e nobilità, exh. cat., Naples 2003, p. 248, reproduced figs R140 and R141.
2 Spinosa 2003, p. 258, cat. no. R134, reproduced p. 247.



Old Masters Day Sale

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London