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].