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Oil painting - Charity suckling a Child and Surrounded by Three Children Playing with a Dog and Hobby Horses
  • Charity suckling a Child and Surrounded by Three Children Playing with a Dog and Hobby Horses
    Beccafumi, Domenico, born 1486 - died 1551
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Charity suckling a Child and Surrounded by Three Children Playing with a Dog and Hobby Horses

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Siena (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1525 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Beccafumi, Domenico, born 1486 - died 1551 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on poplar panel

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides

  • Museum number:

    CAI.165

  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, Room 81, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries, case EAST WALL

Domenico Beccafumi (1484?- 1551) was a Sienese painter, sculptor, draughtsman, printmaker and illuminator. He was a maniera painter closely attuned to contemporary developments in Florence and Rome but who continued to paint with a strong sense of the artistic traditions developed during the fourteenth-century 'Golden-Age' of Sienese painting. He painted on panel and in fresco and his mature works are characterised by bold and sometimes acidic colours in pink, green and yellow which later give way to a greater interest in dramatic contrasts of light and shade. His figures demonstrate a natural or exaggerated grace in their poses and often contrast the smooth brilliance of the naked limbs with the intense colour, sinuous folds and decorative line of their draperies. He became Siena's primary artist, receiving the most prestigious civic, ecclesiastical and private commissions and ultimately transformed the city with his personal interpretation of the maniera style.
CAI.165 has been cut down and probably originally formed part of a piece of painted furniture. The main figure represents Charity and was likely originally accompanied by roundels representing the two other theological virtues of Hope and Faith. Charity was seen by the medieval church as a means of expressing one's love of God and of one's neighbour, a notion derived from Chapter 13 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians which describes Christian Charity as Love. Following artistic tradition, Beccafumi depicts Charity wearing a red dress (with yellow in the highlights) and suckling a child at her breast, an allusion to Charity's provision for the needy. The three playful children may be an allusion to a part of the epistle: 'When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.' (1Cor. 13:11)

Physical description

A woman wearing a red dress with lemon yellow highlights over a blue-green skirt, is seated upon a grassy mound suckling a child at her right breast; another child plays with a small dog at left while two other children play with hobby horses and whirligigs at right, enclosed within a fictive painted frame in blue and gold

Place of Origin

Siena (painted)

Date

ca. 1525 (painted)

Artist/maker

Beccafumi, Domenico, born 1486 - died 1551 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

oil on poplar panel

Dimensions

Diameter: 38 cm estimate, Height: 65 cm frame, Width: 65 cm frame

Object history note

This object was part of the collection of Constantine Alexander Ionides, bequeathed to the museum in 1900. It was formerly probably in the Samuel Wooburn collection, sold at Christie's, 25 June 1853, lot 95.

Historical significance: Domenico Beccafumi [also known as Mecherino] (1484?- 1551) was a Sienese painter, sculptor, draughtsman, printmaker and illuminator. He was a maniera painter closely attuned to contemporary developments in Florence and Rome but who continued to paint with a strong sense of the artistic traditions developed during the fourteenth-century 'Golden-Age' of Sienese painting. He painted on panel and in fresco and his mature works are characterised by bold and sometimes acidic colours in pink, green and yellow which later give way to a greater interest in dramatic contrasts of light and shade. His figures demonstrate a natural or exaggerated grace in their poses and often contrast the smooth brilliance of the naked limbs with the intense colour, sinuous folds and decorative line of their draperies. In addition to his paintings and sculptures, Beccafumi made innovative oil-sketches, experimented inventively with copper-plate engraving and woodcuts which he sometimes superimposed to create various different effects and developed a new technique of marble inlay or intarsia for the pavement of Siena Cathedral. He became Siena's primary artist, receiving the most prestigious civic, ecclesiastical and private commissions and ultimately transformed the city with his personal interpretation of the maniera style.

CAI.165 has been cut down and probably originally formed part of a piece of painted furniture. The main figure represents Charity and was likely originally accompanied by roundels representing the two other theological virtues of Hope and Faith. Charity was seen by the medieval church as a means of expressing one's love of God and of one's neighbour, a notion derived from Chapter 13 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians which describes Christian Charity as Love. Following artistic tradition, Beccafumi depicts Charity wearing a red dress (with yellow in the highlights) and suckling a child at her breast, an allusion to Charity's provision for the needy. The three playful children may be an allusion to a part of the epistle: 'When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.' (1Cor. 13:11)

Historical context note

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy, artists were often commissioned to create painted wooden furnishings for the domestic interior, and particularly for the camera (bedchamber) of wealthy private palaces. Such works were generally commissioned to celebrate a new marriage or the birth of a child and could include a lettiera (bed), spalliera or cornicioni (a painted frieze), a cassapanca (bench-chest) and a set of cassone (marriage chests) among other objects and furnishings. The decoration often included subjects associated with fertility, maternity, childbirth, marriage and fidelity and could include references to the patrons through inclusion of their coat of arms and heraldic colours, or of their personal motto or device.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Charity suckling a Child and Surrounded by Three Children Playing with a Dog and Hobby Horses', Domenico Beccafumi, ca. 1525

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

J. Pope-Hennessy, 'Beccafumi in the V. & A. Museum' in Burlington Magazine vol. 76, no. 445, (April, 1940),pp. 110-123.
Donato Sanminiatelli, Beccafumi, Milano : Bramante, 1967, p. 98, n. 38, fig. 38
Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 23-24, cat. no. 18
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. 2.
Bernhard Berenson, Italian pictures of the renaissance Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1932,p. 65.
Bernhard Berenson, Italian pictures of the Renaissance : a list of the principal artists and their works with an index of places. Central Italian and North Italian schools. (London : Phaidon, 1968), p. 35.
A. Venturi. Storia dell'arte italiana. 11. vols. (Milano : U. Hoepli, 1901-1940), vol ix, pt. 5, 1932, p. 484 f., fig. 278.
Maria Gibellino Krasceninnicowa, Il Beccafumi, con prefazione di A. Venturi. Siena, Istituto communale d'arte e di storia, 1933. p. 89 f., 211, pl. xxx.
O. Sirén in Konsthistorisk Tidskrift, iii, 1934, p. 8, fig. 6.
Luisa Becherucci, Manieristi toscani. Bergamo, Istituto italiano d'arti grafiche [1944], p. 37.
Piero Torriti ; contributi critici di Mario Di Giampaolo ... [et al.] Beccafumi.
Milano : Electa, c1998. p. 125, P47.
Giuliano Briganti and Edi Baccheschi. L'opera completa del Beccafumi Milano : Rizzoli, 1977, p. 96.
Domenico Beccafumi e il suo tempo Siena, Exh. Cat., Milano : Electa, 1990.

Materials

Oil paint; Poplar

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Landscape; Charity; Whirligigs; Hobby horse; Children; Dog (animal)

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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