Master to Master: The Nelson Shanks Collection

Master to Master: The Nelson Shanks Collection

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 142. Joseph's bloodied clothes shown to Rachel and Jacob.

Alessandro Tiarini

Joseph's bloodied clothes shown to Rachel and Jacob

Auction Closed

January 27, 08:24 PM GMT


250,000 - 350,000 USD

Lot Details


Alessandro Tiarini

Bologna 1577 - 1668

Joseph's bloodied clothes shown to Rachel and Jacob

oil on canvas laid on masonite

canvas: 40 by 46 3/8 in.; 101.6 by 117.8 cm.  

framed: 53 3/8 by 60 1/8 in.; 140.7 by 152.7 cm. 

Possibly Virgilio Davia, Bologna, 1842;
Acquired in 1974. 
Possibly A. Emiliani and F. Varignana, Le collezioni d'arte della Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna. I dipinti, Bologna 1972, p. 78 (as in the collection of Virgilio Davia, Bologna, by 1842);
D.H. Steel, in The Age of Correggio and the Carracci: Emilian Painting in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries, exhibition catalogue, Bologna 1986, pp. 538-540, cat. no. 197 (as Saint John the Baptist Reprimanding Herod and Herodias);
M. Pirondini, "Alessandro Tiarini," in La scuola dei Carracci. Dall'Accademia alla bottega di Ludovico, Modena 1994, pp. 298, 304 and 307, note 69 (as Saint John Reprimanding Herod and Herodias);
M. Pirondini, E. Negro and N. Roio, Alessandro Tiarini, Brescia 2000, p. 160, cat. no. 142, reproduced fig. 142 and plates XLVII-XLIX (as dating between 1615 and the early 1620s);
D. Benati, Alessandro Tiarini: L'opera pittorica completa e i disegni, Milan 2001, vol. II, pp. 80-81, cat. no. 135, reproduced (as datable to the mid-1620s, and as Saint John the Baptist taking leave of his Parents).

Alessandro Tiarini was one of the most successful artists active in Emilia in the first half of the seventeenth century. Born in Bologna, he was godson to Lavinia Fontana and trained with her father, Prospero. His oeuvre is characterized by a sense of monumentality and his large figures, with their bold forceful gestures, provide a strong contrast with the smooth, classical typologies popularized by Tiarini's Bolognese contemporary, Guido Reni. The present painting is a mature work by the artist, dated by Pirondini to between 1615 and the early-1620s, and by Benati to the mid-1620s. As noted by Steel, during this phase of Tiarini's career, he "successfully combined the coherent plasticity of Passignano and the other Tuscan reformers" with the "rich luminism...and dramatic clarity found in Ludovico Carracci's best works." It is the works from this part of Tiarini's career that rank among his finest.  

Several different Old Testament subjects have been suggested for this painting, including Saint John the Baptist Reprimanding Herod and Herodias and Saint John the Baptist Taking Leave of his Parents. What seems more likely, however, is that the scene illustrated here comes from the book of Genesis (37: 18-33). Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob, is gifted a multicolored coat as a sign of privilege. This gesture enraged Joseph's jealous brothers who conspired to kill him, but instead threw him into a pit, after which he was sold into slavery. After one brother returned to the pit to rescue Joseph and found him missing, the brothers planned to regale their father with the story that his favorite son was tragically eaten by a wild animal, taking Joseph's distinctive coat and dipping it in the blood of a goat. Tiarini has captured here the moment that Jacob and his wife Rebecca are presented with Joseph's bloodied clothing by one son, a gesture that will bring inconsolable grief to the parents.  

1. Steel 1986, p. 540.