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Oil painting - Gian Fritello

Gian Fritello

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    England (painted)

  • Date:

    1742 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Clermont, Andien de (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 53, case WS

Object Type
Mural painting in a grand house was a sure indicator of wealth and status. Noble or wealthy families commissioned artists, often from France, The Netherlands or Italy, to decorate their homes with mythological, patriotic, allegorical or fantasy scenes, demonstrating the owner's learning, allegiance and sophisticated taste. These are a part of a series of 16 panels commissioned by Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, in 1742 to decorate the 'Scaramouche Parlour' in his house, Belvedere, in Kent.

Subjects Depicted
The panels show scenes from the Commedia dell'Arte, a type of theatre performed by Italian troupes of travelling actors. The Commedia had a large number of stock characters: the actors would improvise around a general scenario. They were often masked, and the performances involved acrobatics, music and dancing. Characters included the Capitano, a swaggering, blustering coward who invariably runs from any threat of danger, Arlecchino (who became the Harlequin of pantomime), Pulcinella (who inspired the English Punch), Pedrolino (later Pierrot) and Colombine (a serving maid who later appears in amorous association with Harlequin or Pierrot). Most depictions of the Commedia characters are derived from a famous series of prints of Commedia-like performers, the Bali di Sfessania by the French artist Jacques Callot (1592-1635).

Andien de Clermont (active 1716-1783) was a French artist who arrived in Britain in 1716. He was the most avant-garde and highly-inventive decorative artist working here in the Rococo period.

Physical description

A man wearing a pink top, holding a wooden sword looks over his left shoulder to the right of the canvas. He stands in a landscape setting with a tree in the left background and buildings to the centre and right. The whole is enframed by a foliate border, incorporating a vase of flowers on the right side and at the top merging to form a three-tiered lantern-like motif.

Place of Origin

England (painted)


1742 (painted)


Clermont, Andien de (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas


Height: 127.5 cm, Width: 61.2 cm

Object history note

Sixteen panels were commissioned by Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore to decorate the 'Scaramouche Parlour' in his house, Belvedere, in Kent. Painted in England by Andien de Clermont (active 1716-83). The majority of the figures are taken from Jacques Callot's Balli di Sfessania, 1621; reproduced in Lieure catalogue de l'oeuvre gray de Callot, 1927, figs 379-402. Also reproduced with accompanying essay in Gerald Kahan Jacqcues Callot - Artist of the Theatre, 1976, pp.9-20. There has long been disagreement concerning the attribution of names to the three characters despicted in Callot's Frontispiece (Lieure 379). Hence P.24-1985 by de Clermont which is based on the frontispiece is descrived simply as Three Figures.
Provenance: Charles Calvert, 5th Lord Baltimore; Sir Simpson Gideon Bart, later lord Eardley; Lieutenant Colonel F. D. E. Freemantle; Sotherbys Monaco 8 February 1980, 124, 2. Purchased by the V&A in 1985.

Descriptive line

Oil painting on canvas, 'Gian Fritello' from the Commedia dell'Arte, Andien de Clermont, 1742

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kahan, G.Jacqcues Callot - Artist of the Theatre, 1976, pp.9-20
Lieure catalogue de l'oeuvre gray de Callot,/u>, 1927, figs 379-402

Labels and date

British Galleries:
These panels are decorated with characters from Italian popular theatre. They were based on etchings by the French engraver Jacques Callot, published in Nancy, France in about 1625. The painter of the panels, Andien de Clermont, set them in light ornamental frameworks inspired by prints by the French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721). Such fanciful decorative frameworks were later taken up by English Rococo designers. [27/03/2003]


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Man; Sword; Landscape; Foliage; Commedia dell'arte


Paintings; Interiors


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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