Carlo Dolci (Florence 1616-1687), Saint Mark. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2012
oil on canvas, octagonal; 40 x 32¾ in. (101.5. x 83 cm.); with a red wax seal bearing the Royal Arms of the House of Orange, and another bearing unidentifed arms, possibly those of Carpanti (on the reverse of the stretcher). Estimate £450,000 - £650,000 ($701,100 - $1,012,700)
Provenance: Painted for the artist's confessor (probably Domenico Carpanti), Florence (according to Baldinucci, see below).
Giovanni Battista Galli (b. 1642), who purchased the set (possibly from the above) for 120 scudi before 1677, Palazzo Galli, via Pandolfini, Florence.
Marchese Cosimo Riccardi (1671-1751), Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, and by descent until 1810, when acquired by
Lucien Bonaparte (1775-1840); Stanley's, London, 16 May 1816, lot 154, 'St. Mark, forming one of the Series of Four Evangelists, formerly in the Riccardi Palace. The character of the Head, the drawing of the Hands, and the cast of the Draperies, are excellent' (£125).
with Nieuwenhuys, Paris, by whom acquired on 8 July 1826 for 20,000 francs.
William, Prince of Orange, subesequently King William II of the Netherlands (1792-1849), by 1837; (+) his sale, J. de Vries, C. F. Roos, J. A. Brondgeest, The Hague, 12-20 August 1850, lot 153, erroneously described as Saint Luke, 'L'apôtre est représenté écrivant l'Évangile. Son attitude indique qu'il est plongé dans la réflexion; dans l'ombre on découvre un lion. Ce beau tableau, quoique d'un grand fini, est peint d'une maniére large, et les couleurs y ont cette transparence qu'on admire dans toutes les oeuvres de l'artiste' (unsold); 14 October 1850 (8000 florins to the following)
Friedrich zu Wied, Prince of the Netherlands, and by inheritance to
Marie zu Wied, Princess of the Netherlands, Schloss Neuwied, Germany; (+), Sotheby's, 5 July 1967, lot 18, as 'C. Dolci' (£420 to Waddingham).
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 8 December 1995, lot 103 (£260,000 to the present owners).
Literature: G. Cinelli and F. Bocchi, Le bellezze della città di Firenze, Florence, 1677, p. 370.
F. Baldinucci, Notizie de' professori del disegno da Cimabue in qua, Florence, 1681-1728, ed. 1845-1847, V, 1846, p. 341.
Marc'Antonio Frecchioni, Inventario delle masserizie, mobili, argenti, stagni etc. esistenti nel palazzo di Via Larga degl'Ill.mi Sig.ri Marchesi Riccardi, ms, 1753, Archivio di Stato, Florence, Riccardi 274, p. 12, item 127, 'Carlino Dolci. Quattro quadri compagni ottagoni bislunghi, alti br. 1 4/5 rappresentano i quattro Evangelisti. Con ornamenti grandi, intagliati a grottesca antica, con angiolini e simboli di ciascheduno, e tutti dorati'.
C.N. Cochin, Voyage d'Italie, Paris, 1758, II, p. 76.
Elogi de Carlo Dolci, etc., Florence, 1775, p. 33.
M. Lastri, L'Etruria Pittrice ovvero storia della pittura toscana dedotta dai suoi monumenti che si esibiscono in stampa dal secolo X fino al presente, Florence, II, 1795, pl. 110.
L. Lanzi, Storia pittorica della Italia dal risorgimento delle Belle Arti fin presso la fine del XVIII secolo, Bassano, 1795-1796, I, p. 178. W. Buchanan, Catalogue of the Collections of Pictures of Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Canino, London, 1815, no. 57.
W. Buchanan, Memoirs of Painting, London, 1824, II, pp. 272-3, no. 52, and p. 287, 'The character of the head, the drawing of the hands, the cast of the draperies, and the general colouring of the whole are excellent'.
C.J. Nieuwenhuys, Description de la Collection des Tableaux qui ornent le Palais de S.A.R.M. le Prince d'Orange, a Bruxelles, Brussels, 1837, no. 33, 'Jamais peintre ne prit plus de soin pour amener ses ouvrages à la perfection, que Carlo Dolci, et quoique l'exécution y soit portée à un fini extraordinaire, sa manière de peindre est toujours largement conu, les couleurs y sont fondues avec un molleux et une transparence qui forment un des traits caractéristiques du beau talent de cet artist célébre, dont les ouvrages sont de la plus grand rareté: celui-ci est du nombre de ses meilleures productions.'
C.J. Nieuwenhuys, Description de la Galerie des Tableaux de S.M. Le Roi des Pays-Bas, Paris, 1843, no. 125.
K. Busse, 'Dolci, Carlo', in U. Thieme, F. Becker and M. Vollmer, eds., Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler, Leipzig, XI, 1913, p. 387.
F. Borroni Salvadori, Le esposizioni d'arte a Firenze dal 1674 al 1767, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, XVIII, 1974, pp. 29 and 80.
B.B. Fredericksen, 'The Four Evangelists by Carlo Dolci', The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, III, 1976, pp. 67-73.
G. de Julius, 'Appunti su una quadreria fiorentina: la collezione dei marchesi Riccardi',Paragone, 357, 1981, pp. 88-9, note 64 and p. 91, note 81.
G. Cantelli, Repertorio della pittura fiorentina del Seicento, Fiesole, 1983, p. 74.
C. McCorquodale, Il Seicento Fiorentino. Arte a Firenze da Ferdinando I a Cosimo III, exhibition catalogue, Florence, 1986, III, p. 82.
M.J. Minicucci, 'Parabola di un museo', Rivista d'Arte, XXXIX, 1987, p. 381.
F. Baldassari in La pittura in Italia. Il Seicento, Milan, 1989, II, p. 726.
E. Hinterding and F. Horsch, '"A small but choice collection": the art gallery of King Willem II of the Netherlands (1792-1849)', Simiolus, XIX, 1989, p. 103, no. 153, with an illustrated reconstruction of the painting.
M.B. Guerrieri Borsoi, 'Carlo Dolci', Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Rome, 1991, no. 40, p. 421.
B. Edelein-Badie, La collection de tableux de Lucien Bonaparte, Prince de Canino, doctoral dissertation, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier, III, 1992, II, pp. 280-1, no. 62.
B.B. Fredericksen, ed., The Index of Paintings Sold in the British Isles during the Nineteenth Century, III, Santa Barbara and Oxford, 1993, p. 337.
F. Baldassari, Carlo Dolci, Turin, 1995, pp. 21-2 and pp. 66-7, no. 32, illustrated, and colour pl. 11.
Marina Natoli, Mina Gregori, et al, Luciano Bonaparte: Le sue collezioni d'arte e le sue residenze a Roma, nel Lazio, in Italia (1804-1840), Rome, 1995, p. 318, no. 11.
F. Baldassari, La pittura del Seicento a Firenze, Turin, 2009, pp. 334 and 340, fig. 149.
Exhibited: Florence, Cloister of Santissima Annunziata, 1729.
(Possibly) Florence, Cloister of Santissima Annunziata, 1767.
Notes: THIS PICTURE ORIGINALLY FORMED part of a set of the Four Evangelists, which together constitute a formidable highpoint in the artist's output and, according to Baldassari, 'the masterpiece of Dolci's youth' (op. cit., 1995, pp. 21-22). She dates the canvases to circa 1640, taking note of Baldinucci, Dolci's pupil, friend and biographer, who records that they were 'made by Carlo in his youth for a confessor, for no more than five scudi each'; earlier on the same page, he identifies Canonico Domenico Carpanti as Dolci's confessor, for whom the artist also executed a vanitas still life (now lost). As Burton Fredricksen points out in his 1976 article, the care taken by Dolci in this commission would seem to reflect the affinity felt by the pious artist for his confessor, as well as his need to establish a reputation at this early stage of his career.
Baldinucci also records that the four octagonal pictures 'were bought by Giovambatista Galli for 120 scudi [and] Carlo then worked on the pictures again, rendering them even more beautiful'. Giovanni Battista Galli, born in 1642, had inherited from his father Agnolo a fine collection of Florentine seicento paintings, including Lorenzo Lippi's Triumph of David, which contains portraits of Giovanni Battista, his mother and his fifteen siblings, painted in 1656 (exhibited Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, Il Seicento Fiorentino, Arte a Firenze da Ferdinando I a Cosimo III, 21 December 1986 4 May 1987, Pittura, pp. 346-8, no. 1.184). He took the opportunity to purchase the present picture and its companions in order to augment the collection in the family palace in via Pandolfini, where 'the four Evangelists by Dolci' were noted by Giovanni Cinelli in 1677 (loc. cit.).
They are next recorded at the end of the seventeenth century in the collection of Cosimo Riccardi (1671-1751), and appear in various inventories of the family palazzo on the via Larga (the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi) throughout the eighteenth century. In 1810, they were acquired from the family by Napoleon's brother, Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Canino, who was in Italy from 1804 until 1810. On his way to America in 1810, Bonaparte was captured at sea by the British and held in London until 1814. He returned to Rome after his release, but his collection of paintings was consigned in London for sale, for reasons that have never been completely understood, possibly financial in nature. While in Bonaparte's collection Buchanan remarked that 'of the works of this esteemed master none exist which hold a higher rank, or have been more esteemed than the Four Evangelists in this collection'. They formed part of the principal ornaments of the Riccardi Gallery at Florence' (loc. cit.). When the collection was sold the series was dispersed; Saint Matthew and Saint John the Evangelist being sold privately to Sir Simon Clarke, while Saint Mark and Saint Luke were included in the public sale held by Stanley in London on 16 May 1816. Buchanan does not record who bought Saint Mark but the price it achieved, £125, was extraordinary for the time. It later reappeared in the collection of William, Prince of Orange, subsequently King William II of the Netherlands, by 1837. This collection was considered by contemporaries to be one of the finest in Europe. By 1838, the then-Prince had already assembled an impressive group of Old Master pictures and drawings, including Raphael's Head of a Muse (sold in these Rooms, 8 December 2009, lot 43, £29.2 million), which appeared alongside the present work in the 1850 sale of the King's collection (as lot 24). It is revealing of contemporary taste to note that the Dolci was then valued at more than ten times the price realised for the aforementioned Raphael drawing.
Two of the other three Evangelists from the series can be traced today: Saint Matthew is in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu (Baldassari, op. cit., 1995, no. 30; see fig. 1), and Saint John, was sold at Christie's, New York, 11 January 1995, lot 99, $398,500; now European private collection; see fig. 2). The fourth canvas of Saint Luke was last recorded in the Morrison Collection at Basildon Park, but its current whereabouts is unknown.
Christie's. Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale, 3 July 2012. London, King Street