STUDIO OF MICHELANGELO CERQUOZZI (1602-1660)
ACTORS OF THE COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE
Oil on canvas
58 x 97 cm
Private collection, France
A larger, autograph version of this subject was offered at Sotheby’s, New York, 31.01.2019, Lot 266 (sold for $60,000, see fig. I, final image above), when it was acquired by Galerie Canesso.
Michelangelo Cerquozzi was born into a wealthy Roman family, the son of a successful leather merchant. His first artistic training came at the young age of 12, in there studio of the history painter Giuseppe Cesari, who had also taught the young Caravaggio. Cerquozzi is an intriguing example of an Italian artist who was particularly close with the fraternity of artists from the Low Countries known as the Bamboccianti (centred around Pieter van Laer and Jan Miel), and he may have studied briefly under the Flemish painter of battle scenes Jacob de Hase. Cerquozzi joined the Accademia di San Luca in 1634, having begun to win recognition in the city from the early 1630s with the patronage of several wealthy Roman collectors, particularly those in the professional classes, as well as a number of prominent aristocrats and senior clerics
Cerquozzi is best known for his smaller canvases of genre scenes and battles, though he was an accomplished still life painter and also turned his hand to mythological and religious subjects on occasion. His genre scenes show the considerable influence that the works of his Bamboccianti peers exerted on the Italian: Cerquozzi delighted in rendering the low-lives, charlatans and quacks of his native city, as is evinced in the present scene. Such subjects were primarily the domain of the Flemish and Dutch artists of the mid-17th century, and Cerquozzi is an interesting exception to this rule. He was a frequent collaborator with various landscape and architectural painters. These included collaborations with the architectural painters Viviano Codazzi (starting from the 1630s) and the landscape painter Angeluccio, whose works Cerquozzi provided staffage for. By the end of his career, the bachelor Cerquozzi had amassed considerable wealth and fame, and was among the most successful genre artists of the century.