Gaspare Traversi (Italian, Neapolitan, ca. 1722–1770)
Oil on canvas
34 1/8 x 42 3/8 in. (86.7 x 107.6 cm)
Bequest of Harry G. Sperling, 1971
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 620
Little is known of Traversi's career, but he was unquestionably the leading genre painter in eighteenth-century Naples. His pictures parodying the pastimes of the noble classes are particularly striking for their emphatic naturalism and biting wit. In this work an old woman tickles a young girl who has fallen asleep with her box of keepsakes on her lap.
[Edward Speelman, London, 1967, purchased in Switzerland; sold for $12,000 to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1967–75; bequeathed by Harry G. Sperling, last surviving partner of firm, to MMA]
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. "Gaspare Traversi: Heiterkeit im Schatten," July 19–November 16, 2003, no. 37.
Naples. Castel Sant'Elmo. "Gaspare Traversi: napoletani del '700 tra miseria e nobiltà," December 13, 2003–March 14, 2004, no. 42.
Parma. Galleria Nazionale. "Luce sul Settecento: Gaspare Traversi e l'arte del suo tempo in Emilia," April 4–July 4, 2004, no. 22.
Nicola Spinosa. Pittura napoletana del Settecento: dal Rococò al Classicismo. Naples, 1987, p. 109, no. 108, fig. 134, ascribes it to Gaspare Traversi.
Francesco Barocelli. "The Painter in the Drawing-room: Gaspare Traversi." FMR no. 70 (October 1994), p. 87, describes the subject as "a petit-bourgeois intimacy, a conscious generational differentiation between a world of elderly pranksters and naive and indolent youth, the unwitting butt of their hardened ruses".
Roberto Contini. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Italian Painting. London, 2002, pp. 395–96, ill.
Sabina de Cavi inGaspare Traversi: napoletani del '700 tra miseria e nobiltà. Ed. Nicola Spinosa. Exh. cat., Castel Sant'Elmo. Naples, 2003, pp. 150–51, 244, 258, nos. 42, R112, ill. (color; black and white), calls it "The Beautiful Sleeper (The Tickle)" and dates it about 1755, calling it an excellent example of the artist's mature period; compares it with one of the same subject in a private collection, Mainz-Kastel, Germany, and suggests that the latter served as a "draft" for this one; notes that Traversi has employed his stock characters here and suggests that the subject comes from "opera buffa," popular in Naples at the beginning of the 18th century; points out that the subject of the "tickle" also occurs in the work of northern Italian artists such as Domenico Maggiotto and Pietro Longhi; suggests that this work and "Lo svenimento," or "The Faint," (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid) were once pendants, as they are similar in dimensions and palette.
Sabina de Cavi inLuce sul Settecento: Gaspare Traversi e l'arte del suo tempo in Emilia. Ed. Lucia Fornari Schianchi and Nicola Spinosa. Exh. cat., Galleria Nazionale. Naples, 2004, pp. 108–9, 240, 253, nos. 22, R112, ill. (color; black and white), [see Ref. de Cavi 2003].