The picture was painted in Venice for Count Francesco Gambara of Brescia. Fetti had moved to Venice from Mantua following a fight with a fellow painter. He was a master of loose brushwork, as this late work testifies. It shows Christ seated in clouds above a landscape, his left hand on an orb, his right raised in blessing, as he directs his gaze towards the viewer. The playful cherubs—especially the one peeking out beneath his blue cloak—and the illusionistic character of the composition are a sort of homage to the work of the great sixteenth-century painter Correggio.
conte Francesco Gambara, Brescia (from 1624); Paolo Coccapani, bishop of Reggio, Modena (before d. 1650); Museo Coccapani, Modena (in 1855); [art market, London, until late 1940s; sold to Modestini]; Mario Modestini, New York (late 1940s–d. 2006); his widow, Dianne Dwyer Modestini, New York (2006–7)
Art Museum, Princeton University. "Italian Baroque Paintings from New York Private Collections," April 27–September 7, 1980, no. 21 (lent by a private collection, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009, online catalogue.
Antonio Paderna. Letter to Francesco Gambara. February 24, 1624 [published in part in Camillo Boselli, "Nuove fonti per la storia dell'arte, l'archivio dei conti Gambara presso la Civica Biblioteca Queriniana di Brescia: I. Il carteggio," Venice, 1971, p. 81], writing from Venice, mentions two paintings by Fetti—a Saint Agnes and a Savior—to be sent to Gambara.
G[iuseppe]. Campori. Gli artisti italiani e stranieri negli stati estensi. Modena, 1855, p. 202, lists "un quadro del Salvatore con alcuni angioletti" by Fetti in the Museo Coccapani.
John T. Spike. Italian Baroque Paintings from New York Private Collections. Exh. cat., Art Museum, Princeton University. Princeton, 1980, pp. 58–60, no. 21, ill., dates it about 1614, early in the artist's Mantuan period; sees the influence of Rubens in the face and figure of Christ and relates the picture to Fetti's paintings of female martyrs of 1613 in the Palazzo Ducale, Mantua; mentions another version of the composition in the Museo Tadini, Lovere.
Rolf Kultzen. "Review of Spike 1980." Pantheon 39 (January–March 1981), p. 94, refers to the version in Lovere as a copy.
Eduard A. Safarik with the collaboration of Gabriello Milantoni inFetti. Milan, 1990, pp. 177–80, no. 53, ill. (color, and detail in black and white), identifies the red wax seal on the back as that of the Coccapani family, and suggests that the PCV in monogram refers to Paolo Coccapani Vescovo; identifies the MMA painting as the one mentioned in Paderna's letter of 1624 [see Ref.]; dates the picture about 1622, between Fetti's Mantuan and Venetian periods; sees the influence of Tintoretto; provides provenance information, stating that Federico Zeri told him that the picture was formerly in the Imperiali collection, Genoa, and the Coccapani-Imperiali collection, Modena; calls the version in Lovere a workshop copy, possibly by Camillo (?) Motta; states that an oval of this subject in lapis lazuli (lost; formerly Palazzo Ducale, Mantua) by Fetti was probably an earlier version of this same compositional scheme.
Eduard A. Safarik inDomenico Fetti: 1588/89–1623. Ed. Eduard A. Safarik. Exh. cat., Palazzo Te, Mantua. Milan, 1996, pp. 222–23, no. 57, ill. (color).
Everett Fahy in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2006–2007." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Fall 2007), p. 22, ill. (color).
There is a copy after this work in the Galleria Tadini, Lovere, north of Brescia (oil on wood, 60.95 x 45.1 cm) (see Spike 1980, p. 60, fig. 13; Safarik 1990, pp. 177, 180, no. 53a, ill.; and Safarik 1996, p. 223, ill.).
Safarik (1990, no. 53b) records a lost work of this subject by Fetti included in a 1627 inventory of the Palazzo Ducale, Mantua: "Un ovato di lapisazzero dipintovi il Salvatore con molt'angelli, opera del Fetti, L. 70."
Artist: Domenico Fetti (Italian, Rome (?) 1591/92–1623 Venice)Date: 1588/89–1623Medium: Black chalk, red, yellow, and pink pastel, highlighted with white on gray-green paperAccession: 1981.394On view in:Not on view