Still life with poultry and a sleeping dog

Bartolomeo GUIDOBONO (Savone, 1654 – Turin, 1709)

 

 

Still life with kitchen utensils, poultry, sleeping dog and lemons


Late 17th century.

 

 

Oil on canvas.

 

 

Dimensions : 24 13/16 x 59 in.

 

 

Provenance : Naples, private collection

 



The Guidobono brothers, Bartolomeo and Domenico (1668-1746), have recently been the subject of a monographic study undertaken by Mary Newcome Schleier, with the contribution of Anna Orlando as concerns their still lifes. Both practiced still life painting or, more generically speaking, genre painting. For Anna Orlando, this magnificent piece displays all the stylistic features of Bartolomeo, the elder of the two brothers. From a creative point of view, the artist exhibits a varied repertoire in which animals - and, more particularly, birds - lie alongside kitchen utensils embellished with lemons and turnips, all displayed in an apparently casual fashion, on two planes running the length of the piece. These unexpected juxtapositions are further enriched by a brush whose strokes of consistent, velvety paint capture the light and soften contours, lending themselves to the subtle interplay of chromatic symmetry between the golden highlights of a bird’s plumage on one end of the piece and its mirror in the straw-coloured lemons on the other. The objects, with their almost quivering lines, appear ready to topple out of the frame: this is another example of Bartolomeo Guidobono’s pictorial vocabulary, which can also be found in his Still Life with Child, Cauldron, two Rabbits and Fruit (Oneglia, Amoretti collection); the sleeping dog finds its counterpart in Diana and Endymion at the Palazzo Reale in Genoa.

In this piece, the artist renews his ties with the Genoese tradition of still lifes from the two preceding decades, influenced as he was by the Fleming Jan Roos (1591-1638), and one is reminded of Anton Maria Vassallo (1617/1618-1660) and Giacomo Legi (ca. 1600-1640), while the brushwork especially recalls Grechetto (1609-1664) in the dog’s coat, and Giovan Battista Cassana (ca. 1620-1690) for the intimate tone he brings to the scene. But that is where Bartolomeo’s debt to the past leaves off, as he offers a wholly new solution, pointedly defined by Anna Orlando as “modern”, in its confirmed linear pattern, revealing what must have been its function as an overdoor. The oldest reference to Bartolomeo’s activities as a still life painter is found in the post-mortem inventory of brothers Giovanni Tomaso and Filippo Donghi (5 March 1711), in which multiple still lifes by the “Priest of Savona”, and whose breadth corresponds to that of the present work, are cited. The theme of the fourth painting, “Altro con un cane d’altezza palmi 4, larghezza 7, del detto, con cornice come sopra”, brings to mind a painting such as ours. At any rate, this inventory serves to highlight the scope of Bartolomeo Guidobono’s production in this domain. His activities have further been attested to by the biographer Ratti, who recalls that Bartolomeo was extremely skilled in this genre, most particularly in the painting of animals, statin' “e specialmente gli animali ci"sono espressi cosi al naturale .elle penne, ne pelami, e nelle kovenze, che sembrano veri” with respect to the Gallery at the Pclazzo Centurion.

Looking at the dog curled up before his hunting trophy in the sleep of the righteous, one cannot help but note the truth in these words.