Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Bathsheba at Her Bath

Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari (Italian, Lucca or Rome 1654–1727 Rome)
ca. 1700
Oil on canvas
53 1/2 x 38 1/2 in. (135.9 x 97.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mario Modestini, 1993
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 620
Bathsheba is shown at her toilet, tended by two servants, while King David gazes at her from the palace balcony. David later sent Bathsheba's husband Uriah into battle to be killed so that he might marry her. The picture, among Chiari's finest, is based on a work painted by his teacher Carlo Maratta for marchese Niccolò Maria Pallavicini. Chiari has introduced a number of motifs, such as the gesture of Bathsheba arranging her hair, that subtly transform Maratta's vigorous style into the refined, Rococo sensibilities of the eighteenth century.
Charles Louis de Beauchamp, comte de Merle (until 1784; his sale, A. J. Paillet, Hôtel de Bullion, Paris, March 1, 1784, no. 2, as "Betzabé sortant du bain," by Carlo Maratti, 50 x 42 pouces, for 6,720 livres to Paillet); sale, Christie's, London, April 30, 1785, no. 59, as "Bethsheba bathing," by Maratti, for £262.10 to Baillie; sale, Alexandre Joseph Paillet & Hypolite Delaroche, Paris, May 30, 1799, no. 8, as no. 2 in the Merle sale; [Eduardo Moratilla, Paris, until 1952/53]; Mario Modestini, New York (1952/53–1993)
Art Museum, Princeton University. "Italian Baroque Paintings from New York Private Collections," April 27–September 7, 1980, no. 14.

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. "Guido Reni und Europa: Ruhm und Nachruhm," December 2, 1988–February 26, 1989, no. D30.

Bernhard Kerber. "Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari." Art Bulletin 50 (March 1968), p. 80, as discovered in a private collection in Florence in 1960 by A. M. Clark.

Anthony M. Clark in Painting in Italy in the Eighteenth Century: Rococo to Romanticism. Ed. John Maxon and Joseph J. Rishel. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1970, p. 190, refers to it as a "Chiari-like" Maratti, a variant of Maratti's Bathsheba in the Liechtenstein collection; locates it in the Modestini collection, New York.

John T. Spike. Italian Baroque Paintings from New York Private Collections. Exh. cat., Art Museum, Princeton University. Princeton, 1980, pp. 6, 43–45, no. 14, ill., dates it to the last decade of the seventeenth century and gives it to Chiari, noting that Manuela Mena first made this attribution; observes that the composition derives from and reverses that of Maratti's painting of the subject in the Liechtenstein Gallery, which he believes is contemporaneous with this depiction; notes that an early study for the MMA painting (fig. 7) is in the National Gallery of Scotland.

Steffi Röttgen in Guido Reni und Europa: Ruhm und Nachruhm. Ed. Sybille Ebert-Schifferer, Andrea Emiliani, and Erich Schleier. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Frankfurt, 1988, pp. 606–7, no. D30, ill. (color), states that it derives from Carlo Maratti's painting of the subject made for the Prince of Liechtenstein in 1693.

Old Master Pictures. Christie's, London. April 9, 1990, p. 105, notes that this painting is a variant of a Bathsheba by Carlo Maratti (lot 66A), one of a pair of ovals made for the Marchese Niccolò Pallavicini and in an English collection from 1758; suggests that Chiari may also have been involved in the execution of the ovals.

Mario Modestini. Letter to Andrea Bayer. February 7, 1994, comments on the painting's physical state and provenance.

Keith Christiansen in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1993–1994." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 52 (Fall 1994), pp. 34–35, ill. (color).

Christopher M. S. Johns in Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century. Ed. Edgar Peters Bowron and Joseph J. Rishel. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 2000, p. 346, no. 198, ill. [dropped from exhibition], dates it about 1700; finds Chiari's interpretation of the subject "remarkably different from Maratti's prototype," observing that our passive admiration of Bathsheba's beauty replaces the sense of "dire moral consequences" in the earlier work; believes the composition is based on an engraving.

Old Master & British Paintings: Day Sale. Sotheby's, London. December 4, 2014, p. 111, under no. 205.

An oval version of this composition attributed to Chiari was sold at Sotheby's, London, December 4, 2014, no. 205 (oil on canvas, 51 x 38 1/2 in.).
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