A58: Boy holding a caricature
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© The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
|Title||Boy holding a caricature|
|Object type||In category: Pictures » Painting|
|Date||Between 1700 and 1738|
By Attributed to Amorosi, Antonio (Italian painter, 1660-1738) - Painter(s)
Previously attributed to Piazzetta, Giovanni Battista (Italian painter and printmaker, 1682-1754) - Painter(s)
Previously attributed to Velázquez, Diego (Spanish painter, 1599-1660) - Painter(s)
|Place of origin||Europe » Southern Europe » Italy » Central Italy » Rome|
71.4 cm height frame
63.0 cm width frame
44.7 cm height image
36.7 cm width image
|Materials & techniques||
Pictures: Medium » Paint » Oil paint
Pictures: Support » Canvas
Head and shoulders of a little boy in an interior. Half-length, body turned towards a window on the right, face turned half-profile towards viewer. Boy has short dark hair, large dark eyes, laughing mouth half-open. Red fur hat with white plume, green renaissance-style doublet with gold braid and chain over shoulder; violet sleeves with gold-coloured lining. He holds a piece of paper with a sketch in chalks of a profile head with cap and hooked nose. In a stone-walled interior with arch on the left and window on the right, dark sky beyond.
|Marks and inscriptions||
This boy, elegantly dressed in an old-fashioned doublet with gold lace and an extravagantly plumed cap, laughingly holds up a drawing of a beak-nosed head that contrasts with his own soft features.
One of the Roman artist Antonio Amorosi's earliest works was a portrait of a little boy, only six months old, called Filippo Ricci. Such was its success that a large part of his output for the rest of his career consisted of half-length pictures of young children, with large eyes and winning expressions, holding a toy, a pet, or something to eat. Over eighty examples of these so-called bambocciate are known. This is a particularly fine example. The boy, elegantly dressed in an old-fashioned doublet with gold lace and an extravagantly plumed cap, laughingly holds up a drawing of a beak-nosed head that contrasts with his own soft features.
The practice of caricature had become a popular new amusement in Rome during the 17th century and Amorosi was a known humorist. A contemporary (Pascoli, in his Vite di Pittori, Scultori ed Architetti Moderni, Rome, 1736; modern edition Treviso, 1981) tells how one day a distinguished clergyman visited the young Amorosi in his studio. "One day I was in Amorosi’s house when a Priest from the Collegio Clementino came in with a gentleman and asked Antonio to show them some of his pictures. So he showed them some little children and some comical pictures, then he said that he would like to show the gentleman a picture of a painter making a portrait of the gentleman himself. And he took a canvas which was turned to the wall, put it on the easel, and there they saw painted a young lad very oddly dressed, with a face like Raphael, drawing the head of an ass."
This cheap trick, beautifully painted, still exists in the art gallery at Deruta, and is also set again a window to the right of the figure (illustrated in Maggini, Claudio, Antonio Mercurio Amorosi Pittore (1660-1738): Catalogo Generale, Rimini, 1996, pl.31. Perhaps this little boy is making a similar joke of his audience.
Compare also the boy with a lantern, also at Deruta, illustrated in Maggini pl.122.Amorosi's painting has been neatly labelled on the back of the stretcher by Sir William Holburne: Portrait of Murillo, with his first sketch by Velasquez.
Holburne catalogue 1867: 'Velasquez' – Back drawing room
Holburne catalogue 1887: 'Velasquez'
Moeckler 1902: 'after Diego Velasquez'
Horace Buttery 1906: 'French School'
Blaker ?1906: 'after Velasquez'
Sir Claude Phillips 1918: 'Italian School XVII cent'
A Register 1919: 'Venetian School XVII cent.'
Holburne catalogue 1927: 'Piazzetta'
Holburne catalogue 1936: 'Piazzetta'Martin: Piazzetta
Courtauld List 1971: Piazzetta
Christopher Wright 1976: Piazzetta
1976: Giovanni Battista Piazzetta
1983: Antonio Amorosi
L'Opera completa di Antonio Amorosi, p. 117, no. A9
The Holburne of Menstrie Museum Catalogue: Part I: Pictures, Bath, 1936, no. 157, ill. pl. 12
Wright, C., Old Master Paintings in Britain: An Index of Continental Old Master Paintings executed before c.1800 in Public Collections in the United Kingdom, London, 1976, p. 159, as A Page by Piazzetta
|Muse theme||The Art of Collecting
The History of the Holburne Collection » Sir William Holburne and his Collection » Arranging the Collection: Sir William at Home
Oil paintings in the Holburne Museum
|Method of acquisition||Bequest|
Recorded in the collection of Sir T. W. Holburne (1793-1874) by 1867; by whom bequeathed to Mary Anne BHolburne (1802-1882); by whom bequeathed to the Museum
Title of exhibition: Italian Treasures, Victorian and Edwardian Taste in Italian Art