Recognised as leading dealers in the field of European sculpture, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art
also specialises in Old Master paintings and objets dart. At TEFAF Maastricht 2017 the gallery will present an extremely rare portrait from the late 16th century by the renowned Italian Baroque artist Annibale Carracci (1560-1609), and for which a full provenance, including King Philip V of Spain and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, can now been unveiled following extensive research by the gallery.
The oil on canvas portrait was painted circa 1585 and depicts a finely dressed African woman holding a gilded clock and commanding a direct gaze. She wears a necklace of coral, pearl earrings, and intriguingly presents to the viewer a timepiece of extreme luxury and technological advancement, perhaps reflecting the sitters, or patrons, modernity and intellect.
An allegorical interpretation of this work might construe the clock as a symbol of the passing of time and transience of life, a momento mori, relating the work to the vanitas genre. A clock is also associated with Temperance, one of the four cardinal virtues, while a coral necklace is often an attribute of Africa personified.
During the 1580s Annibale Carracci was painting the most radical and innovative pictures in Europe. He introduced a new, broken brushwork technique to represent the effects of light on form, which gave his works an intimacy and immediacy.
In-depth research by the team at Tomasso Brothers Fine Art has revealed for the first time the rich history of this unusual and significant painting; it passed from the studio of the artist Carlo Maratti (1625-1713) to Philip V of Spain via one of Maratti's disciples, Andrea Procaccini (1671-1734), who was painter to Phillip V and in charge of decorating the monarchs new palace San Ildefonso in Segovia.
In August 1812 the painting was made a gift to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, along with 11 other works, following his stay at San Ildefonso Palace during the Spanish War of Independence. It remained in a private collection until sold by Christie's London in 2005. The work was shown at The Walters Art Museum and Princeton University Art Museum (USA 2013) in the exhibition Revealing the African presence in Renaissance Europe.
This fascinating and historic portrait will be offered by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art at TEFAF, Stand 310, from 10-19 March 2017 at the MECC, Maastricht, The Netherlands.