ANDREA CELESTI | AMNON'S OUTRAGE ON BEHALF OF HIS SISTER, TAMAR; ABSALOM ORDERS THE MURDER OF AMNON
Property from the Matthiesen Gallery, London
Venice 1637 - 1712
AMNON'S OUTRAGE ON BEHALF OF HIS SISTER, TAMAR;
ABSALOM ORDERS THE MURDER OF AMNON
a pair, both oil on copper
unframed: each 19.5 x 25 cm.; 7 3/4 x 9 7/8 in.
framed: each 28.5 x 33.5 cm.; 11 1/8 x 13 1/8 in.
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The copper supports are largely flat, with only minor unevenness. The paintings have been fairly recently cleaned. The paint surface of each is in generally good condition, There are no major damages but there are scattered small re-touchings throughout each painting. No further attention is required.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 24–25 January 2008, lot 285 (as attributed to Andrea Celesti).
London, Matthiesen Gallery and New York, Stair Sainty Matthiesen, Fifty paintings, 1535–1835, 1993 (the former).
"The contrast between the pandemonius din of The Outrage of Amnon and the hushed whispers of its pair is, for me, the most obviously striking aspect of this enthusiastically painted pair of coppers. Celesti crams so much drama onto such small surfaces, and the result is dazzling."
These pictures belong to a particular tradition in Italian seicento painting, where bravura is coupled with something of the delicacy of rapid bozzetto handling, regardless of the scale involved. It is particularly characteristic of a small group of painters active in Venice around the Florentine Sebastiano Mazzoni, present in the city by 1649. Their unusual Old Testament subjects also conform to a taste for somewhat recondite themes current in the Mazzoni circle, coupled with disturbing visual and perspectival effects, as in Mazzoni’s Dream of Pope Onorio III (S. Maria del Carmine, Venice). Celesti worked not only in Venice but also in Padua, Rovigo, Treviso and Vicenza. In addition to his period in the Venetian studios of Matteo Ponzone and Mazzoni, one of Celesti’s greatest debts was to the Vicentine painter Francesco Maffei. Maffei transmitted not only something of his often hectic style to Celesti, but also his great admiration for Jacopo Bassano, Tintoretto, Strozzi and, above all, Veronese. In both of the present pictures, the pyrotechnics associated with Mazzoni (probably derived from Cecco Bravo) are eminently present; in this they are close to Celesti’s The Virgin liberating a City (Chiesa dei Carmini, Venice) and The Israelites sacrificing to Idols (Gemäldegalerie, Dresden),1 with its echoes of Tintoretto and even Palma Vecchio. Their figure types and paint handling are also close to The Finding of Moses (Galleria Civica, Reggio Emilia). In The Outrage of Amnon, the surprising device of the table’s dramatic foreshortening into depth recalls Tintoretto’s famous Last Supper (S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice).2
Celesti was active at the height of the ‘cinquecento revival’ of the Venetian seventeenth century, coupling his borrowings initially with the darker tones of tenebrists like Loth and Langetti. The paintings left by Giordano during his Venetian sojourn from 1685 led to a lightening of Celesti’s style both in tonality and the volume of his figures. This influence is apparent in the present pictures, in their palette of white, yellow, coral and blue, looking forward to the early Rococo of Sebastiano Ricci. Celesti’s distinctive staring eyes and pointed features and extremities are present in both these pictures: his work sometimes seems to prefigure the Romantic movement, as in one of his rare portraits, An Imaginary Portrait of Count Alberto (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin).
The story depicted in there two pictures is drawn from the Old Testament, Samuel II, 13: 1–29.