An Allegorical Female Figure: Music (?) thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

An Allegorical Female Figure: Music (?)

Oil Painting
ca. 1565-1575 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Benedetto Caliari (1538-1598) was an Italian painter and brother of Paolo Caliari, better known as Paolo Veronese. After Paolo's death in 1588, his workshop was run by Benedetto and his sons Carlo and Gabriele. In 1556, at age 18, Benedetto assisted Paolo on the decoration of the ceiling of San Sebastiano, Venice, and was probably Veronese's principal collaborator at the Villa Barbaro at Maser (ca. 1561), producing much of the illusionistic architecture and some of the landscapes (in situ). He assisted Veronese with two commissions at the Doge's Palace, Venice (1574-82), and the Martyrdom of St Justine, Padua in 1575. The Birth of the Virgin (1577; Venice, Accademia), commissioned for the Scuola dei Mercanti, is one of the few paintings documented as designed and executed by Benedetto Caliari, the forms are heavy, strongly modelled versions of Veronese's types, and the hand is somewhat mechanical.
The female figures in CAI. 166 and CAI.166 posesthe same delicate small heads with elaborate hairdress and heavy muscular bodies with attenuated limbs employed by Veronese and Benedetto although executed with less skill. They appear to have been painted as an overdoor (or modello?) much like the feigned sculptures painted in fresco by Veronese and Benedetto in the Sala dell'Olimpo in the Villa Barbaro ca. 1560 which are similarly mounted over a triangular pediment.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas, grisaille
Brief Description
Grisaille oil painting of an allegorical figure (possibly Music), attributed to Benedetto Caliari, late 16th century.
Physical Description
A female allegorical figure in grisaille, possibly identifiable as Music as she appears to hold a lira da braccio in her right hand and rests her head on her left, she reclines on a piece of architecture, probably a pediment. This is a companion to CAI 167.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 84.8cm
  • Estimate width: 101cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, C.M. Kauffmann, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973
Style
Credit line
Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides
Object history


The painting is mentioned, with CAI 167, in a letter dated 18 March 1873 (private collection), from the painter Legros to his friend and patron Constantine Alexander Ionides. Legros, then in Venice, attributes the two figures to Veronese and asks his patron the authorization to purchase the works on his behalf, for the sum of £100. However, there is no mention of such a purchase in C. A. Ionides' exhaustive personal inventory (private collection), which was initially compiled in November 1881 and maintained until 1899. Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides, 1900.



The work and its companion were part of the large bequest made by C. A. Ionides to the V&A in 1900.

The collection formed by Constantine Ionides includes works of a wide variety of schools, periods and artists. His collection includes Old Masters, 17th century works, contemporary British works and French 19th century works. Constantine formed friendships with artists of the day, especially Legros, who, having spent 17 years in Britain, became a naturalise British citizen. Constantine proved a stable and generous buyer of Legros work, while Legros, in turn, became an advisor in the matters of art to the attentive Constantine.

Constantine’s plans concerning his collection conformed to a more ‘public-welfare’ vein of thought than his father or brother. He decided to donate his collection to the Victoria & Albert Museum, instead of privately distributing it or disposing of it in a Sales room.



His will states:



'All my pictures both in oil and water colours and crayon or coloured chalks (but subject as to my family portraits to the interest herein before given to my said Wife) and all my etchings drawings and engravings to the South Kensington Museum for the benefit of the nation to be kept there as one separate collection to be called "The Constantine Alexander Ionides Collection" and not distributed over the Museum or lent for exhibition. And I desire that the said Etchings Drawings and Engravings shall be framed and glazed by and at the expense of the authorities of the Museum so that Students there can easily see them.'



The collection bequeathed to the museum in 1901 comprises 1138 pictures, drawing and prints, to which a further 20 items were added on the death of his widow in 1920. The works are listed in the V&A catalogue of the Constantine Alexander Ionides collection.



Historical significance: Benedetto Caliari (1538-1598) was an Italian painter and brother of Paolo Caliari, better known as Paolo Veronese. After Paolo's death in 1588, his workshop was run by Benedetto and his sons Carlo and Gabriele. In 1556, at age 18, Benedetto assisted Paolo on the decoration of the ceiling of San Sebastiano, Venice, and was probably Veronese's principal collaborator at the Villa Barbaro at Maser (ca. 1561), producing much of the illusionistic architecture and some of the landscapes (in situ). He assisted Veronese with two commissions at the Doge's Palace, Venice (1574-82), and the Martyrdom of St Justine, Padua in 1575. The Birth of the Virgin (1577; Venice, Accademia), commissioned for the Scuola dei Mercanti, is one of the few paintings documented as designed and executed by Benedetto Caliari, the forms are heavy, strongly modelled versions of Veronese's types, and the hand is somewhat mechanical.

The female figures in CAI. 166 and CAI.166 posesthe same delicate small heads with elaborate hairdress and heavy muscular bodies with attenuated limbs employed by Veronese and Benedetto although executed with less skill. They appear to have been painted as an overdoor (or modello?) much like the feigned sculptures painted in fresco by Veronese and Benedetto in the Sala dell'Olimpo in the Villa Barbaro ca. 1560 which are similarly mounted over a triangular pediment.
Historical context
Illusionism in painting describes the attempt to make images that seemingly share or extend the three-dimensional space in which the spectator stands. The term is also applied in sculpture, for a presentation of figures that attempts in some way to make them seem alive, and occasionally in architecture, for a presentation of structures that attempts in some way to enhance their dimensions.

For imagery, the painter may represent a flat surface from which planes jut and recede to a slight depth or great distance- an effect also known as trompe l'oeil. This practice was common in antiquity and in Italian painting from the 15th century.



Grisaille is a term applied to monochrome painting carried out mostly in shades of grey. The use of the French word can be traced only to 1625, although grisaille painting was done in preceding centuries. The origin of monochrome figure painting is to be found in Italian wall painting such as Giotto's painted the stone-coloured allegories of the Virtues and Vices, conceived as statues facing each other in fictive niches on the walls of the nave in the Arena Chapel in Padua (1303-06). The allegories, subordinated by their stone quality to the coloured (and therefore more lifelike) figures in the scenes from the History of Salvation, have nonetheless the highest degree of reality within the picture programme because of their illusionistic presentation.



Grisaille painting increasingly appeared in thematically or formally subordinate areas, however the explicit imitation of stone continued to play an important role. In the large fresco programmes of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries grisaille helped to spread illusionism to painting in colour. Michelangelo's polychrome prophets and sibyls (1508-12) on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome for example are placed between grisaille figures appearing like reliefs or caryatids on pilasters and are thrust by them into the beholder's space. The case is similar with Annibale Carracci's frescoes (1597-1600) of the Galleria of the Palazzo Farnese in Rome or Paolo Veronese's wall paintings (1561-2) in the Villa Barbaro in Maser.
Production
Acquired as 'Unknown' Venetian? late 16th century, from Ionides in 1900.

Exhibited as 'Veronese' after cleaning in 1950.

Given by Berenson to Zelotti in 1957.

Juergen Schulz (written opinion) doubts Zelotti attribution and suggests someone closer to Veronese such as Benedetto or Carletto Caliari.

Catalogued as 'Music' by Zelotti by Kauffmann in 1973.

Style and execution much closer that that of Benedetto Caliari while working with his brother Paolo Veronese in the 1560s.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Benedetto Caliari (1538-1598) was an Italian painter and brother of Paolo Caliari, better known as Paolo Veronese. After Paolo's death in 1588, his workshop was run by Benedetto and his sons Carlo and Gabriele. In 1556, at age 18, Benedetto assisted Paolo on the decoration of the ceiling of San Sebastiano, Venice, and was probably Veronese's principal collaborator at the Villa Barbaro at Maser (ca. 1561), producing much of the illusionistic architecture and some of the landscapes (in situ). He assisted Veronese with two commissions at the Doge's Palace, Venice (1574-82), and the Martyrdom of St Justine, Padua in 1575. The Birth of the Virgin (1577; Venice, Accademia), commissioned for the Scuola dei Mercanti, is one of the few paintings documented as designed and executed by Benedetto Caliari, the forms are heavy, strongly modelled versions of Veronese's types, and the hand is somewhat mechanical.

The female figures in CAI. 166 and CAI.166 posesthe same delicate small heads with elaborate hairdress and heavy muscular bodies with attenuated limbs employed by Veronese and Benedetto although executed with less skill. They appear to have been painted as an overdoor (or modello?) much like the feigned sculptures painted in fresco by Veronese and Benedetto in the Sala dell'Olimpo in the Villa Barbaro ca. 1560 which are similarly mounted over a triangular pediment.
Bibliographic References
  • Venturi, A., Studi dal vero, Florence, 1927, p. 320 ff. fig. 206.
  • Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 304-305, cat. no. 384.
  • Basil S. Long, Catalogue of the Constantine Alexander Ionides collection. Vol. 1, Paintings in oil, tempera and water-colour, together with certain of the drawings. London : Printed under the authority of the Board of Education, 1925, p. 68.
  • Bernard Berenson, Italian pictures of the Renaissance : a list of the principal artists and their works, with an index of places. Venetian school. London : Phaidon Press, 1957, vol. i, p. 204.
  • Paintings and drawings from Christ Church, Oxford, Matthiesen Gallery, 1960, no. 78
  • J. Byam Shaw, Drawings from Christ Church, Oxford, exh. Washington, 1972.
Collection
Accession Number
CAI.166

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record createdOctober 11, 2006
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