Lot 188
  • 188

GASPARE TRAVERSI | Saint Joseph with the Christ Child

Estimate
30,000 - 50,000 GBP
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Description

  • Gaspare Traversi
  • Saint Joseph with the Christ Child
  • oil on canvas
  • 62.5 x 48.6 cm.; 24 5/8¬† x 19 1/4¬† in.

Condition

The canvas has an old relining, the paint surface is dirty, and the varnish is discoloured. There are some losses to the left of St. Joseph's head, and smaller pin-prick losses throughout, notably on the right-hand side of his hair and beard, the lower part of his beard, his left hand, and the Christ Child's neck. There is a defined network of craquelure particularly visible in the upper half of the painting, and two pronounced horizontal lines running through the centre of the canvas caused by the stretcher. Discoloured retouchings are visible in the knees and stomach of the Christ Child. Inspection under ultraviolet light is impeded by the old, thick varnish but reveals retouching around the aforementioned areas of loss upper left and upper centre, as well as scattered in St. Joseph's shoulder, both his hands, and in the body and white drapery of the Christ Child. None of these measure more than 1 x 2 cm. There is also retouching in the lower corners to two horizontal lines each approx. 10 cm. long. In overall fair condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

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.