THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY
Inscribed '[...] mater domirabilis [?]'
Grey wash, pencil and pen & ink
13.5 x 26.1 cm
Eugene Victor Thaw (1927-2018);
Gift of Mr & Mrs E. Thaw, New York, to Mrs Drue Heinz, D.B.E. (1915-2018);
Heinz Townhouses Sale, Christie's, King Street, 04.06.2019, Lot 247
"And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery...But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground as though he had heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her'." (John, 8:3a, 6b-7, KJV)
The present work may relate to a painting of the subject by Bazzani in Rome, referred to in Caroli, Giuseppe Bazzani e la linea d'ombra dell'arte lombarda, 1988, p. 189, cat. no. 277 (Zeri no. 73452), although the composition is very much different in that depiction, with a more dramatic rendering of the adulteress. The busy composition with figures extraneous to the subject is typical of Bazzani's works, and can be compared to his Christ & the Samaritan Woman at the Well (Private Collection, Milan, see Caroli, p.190); and Christ Heals the Woman with the Haemorrhage (Private Collection, Milan, see Caroli, p.191).
Giuseppe Bazzani was born in Mantua, the son of a goldsmith, and likely studied under Giovanni Canti (c. 1650-1716) with Giovanni Cadioli (c.1710-1767) in his youth. He was at first influenced by the Venetian works of Veronese and Bassano, as well as those of Peter Paul Rubens and Domenico Fetti. Though Mantua was comparatively provincial (despite the wealth of the Gonzaga dynasty), it nevertheless contained a broad and unique variety of works from which the young artist learned, thanks also in part to subsequent generations of Gonzagas' collecting. By the time he reached maturity, Bazzani was familiar with works by Gretti and Frechetto, as well as Austrians, Venetians and artists from the Bologna School
Much of Bazzani's work "belongs to the later development of Baroque art" (1) [our italics], with his imaginative line, free brushstrokes and use of shimmering colours, particularly in his late works depicting moonlit scenes. Around the year 1740, Bazzani's subjects became more dramatic, with the artist preferring sacred subjects, mythological scenes and secular allegories. These demonstrate Bazzani's idiosyncratic development, in part the product of his comparative isolation within Mantua and consequent avoidance of broader trends: the figures are often highly expressive and are imbued with heightened emotions, more like those of El Greco, avoiding the more plastic and mannered aspects of contemporary Venetian art. As time went on his style developed to resemble more closely the rocaille of Sebastiano Ricci, a change which Chiara Perrini attributed to Bazzani's draftsmanship developing (2)
Bazzani painted many decorative schemes, mainly in his hometown of Mantua: at the church of Santa Maria della Carita in Mantua, he painted a significant group of paintings which included The Probatic Pool and The Judgement of Solomon, which made use of novel effects of lighting; he painted an allegorical series of The Four Seasons at the Palazzo Forchessati; and also decorated the Palazzo Massarani with further allegorical works. Benezit likened Bazzani's style in these works to that of Boucher.
Bazzani's works were an influence on the development of later artists such as Guardi and Maulpertsch. He served as Director of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Mantua from 1767 (and was on the faculty from 1752) and became very highly regarded in his lifetime and remained so posthumously in Mantua particularly.
This drawing was a gift from the distinguished collector and dealer Eugene Victor Thaw to Mrs Drue Heinz, editor of The Paris Review, co-founder of the Ecco Press (New York) and "the great literary philanthropist of our time" (3). She founded numerous literary retreats and was a close friend of Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser. She was married to J. Heinz II, President of the Heinz Company, who was her third husband (and she his third wife) from 1953.
(1) Henry S. Francis, A Pietà by Giuseppe Bazzani: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Severance A. Millikin, The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, March 1956, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Mar., 1956), p.45
(2) Chiara Tellini Piara, Additions to Bazzani's œuvre, The Burlington Magazine, March 1975, Vol. 117, No. 864, p. 169 - "The chnage from a seventeenth-century maner to the 'rocaille' tradition was brought about through his drawing, which acquired a rhythm of increasing speed. Subsequently his use of colour also became more transparent"
(3) Mrs Heinz's obituary from The Heinz Endowments website: https://www.heinz.org/news-and-media/in-the-news/news-detail?id=772 [last accessed 20/07/2020]