Mattia Preti (Il Cavalier Calabrese) (Italian, Taverna 1613–1699 Valletta)
Oil on canvas
68 x 47 3/4 in. (172.7 x 121.3 cm)
Gift of Melissa O. Aronson, in memory of Thomas P. Miller, 2005
Not on view
Saint John the Baptist is shown seated in the wilderness exhorting the viewer to repentance, his right hand pointing heavenwards, his skin tanned through years in the desert. The lamb stands for Christ, the "lamb of God."
One of the protagonists of Baroque painting, Preti worked in Rome, Modena, and Naples before moving to Malta, where he was elevated to knighthood and spent the rest of his career. The expressive intensity and boldly sculptural conception of the Saint John link it with Preti's frescoes in the church of S. Biagio in Modena, carried out in 1651–52; there are echoes of the most vigorous manner of Domenichino and Guercino.
[Julius Weitzner, London]; Paul Ganz, New York; Thomas Pelham Miller, Birmingham, Ala. (by 1976–d. 1993); his daughter, Melissa Aronson, Closter, N.J. (1993–2005; sale, Sotheby's, New York, May 19, 1994, no. 59, as "Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness," by Mattia Preti, bought in; sale, Sotheby's, New York, May 19, 1995, no. 39, bought in)
John T. Spike. Mattia Preti: catalogo ragionato dei dipinti/Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings. Taverna, Italy, 1999, p. 229, no. 143, ill. p. 229 and colorpl. XVIII, attributes it to Mattia Preti and dates it about 1650 on the basis of the drapery style.
James Gardner. "A Saint in Shadows Sees the Light." New York Sun (July 5, 2007), p. 19.
Keith Christiansen in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2006–2007." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Fall 2007), p. 23, ill. (color), links it with the frescoes painted by Preti in 1651–52 in the church of San Biagio, Modena, and also sees similarities to "the most vigorous manner of Domenichino and Guercino".
Artist: attributed to Mattia Preti (Il Cavalier Calabrese) (Italian, Taverna 1613–1699 Valletta)Date: 1613–99Medium: Pen and brown ink, washed, on brownish paperAccession: 87.12.39On view in:Not on view
Artist: Mattia Preti (Il Cavalier Calabrese) (Italian, Taverna 1613–1699 Valletta)Date: 1613–99Medium: Red chalk, brush and red wash (recto); red chalk (verso), on beige paperAccession: 1971.221.3On view in:Not on view