The painting relates to another Flagellation given to Bacchiacca, in the Kress collection at the National Gallery, Washington (fig. 1; inv. no. 1952.5.81). The Washington picture portrays only the three central figures, those of Christ and the two soldiers, and sets them instead within an architectural backdrop with a landscape beyond. Robert G. La France included the Washington Flagellation in his 2008 monograph as a work from Perugino’s studio, possibly by Bacchiacca’s elder brother, Bartolomeo d’Ubertino Verdi.1 Bartolomeo was active in Perugino’s workshop and also collaborated on works with his more celebrated younger brother, Francesco.
La France notes that the open-mouthed flagellant at the left side of the Washington panel, who also appears in the present painting, corresponds with the Egyptian soldier at the left-hand edge of Bacchiacca’s Stories from the Life of Joseph: Joseph Revealing his Identity, in the National Gallery, London (inv. no. 1219).2 La France dates the London panel to the artist’s youth, circa 1515-1518, and believes it to be predated by the Washington panel. Comparing the figures of the Washington flagellant and the London soldier, he notes that the soldier “is less precisely formed, its anatomy misunderstood, and the figure is more heavily draped to hide these infelicities.”3 He concludes, therefore, that the London soldier was likely derived from the figure in the earlier Washington painting. The case could not be more different for the corresponding figure in the present painting, however. Executed decades later, the flagellant is draped only in a loin cloth and is more akin in quality to that of the Washington painting. The anatomy, while fashionably elongated, is perfectly understood, the musculature beautifully defined and the complex articulation of the figures in motion beautifully expressed.
1. R.G. La France, Bacchiacca, Artist of the Medici Court, Florence 2008, pp. 280-281, cat. no. 121, reproduced, fig. 84.
2. Ibid., pp. 150-151, cat. no., 13, reproduce plate XII.
3. Ibid., p. 281.
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