Pastel and chalk on blue laid paper, laid down on paste paper
16 x 13 in. (40.6 x 33 cm)
Pastels & Oil Sketches on Paper
Gwynne Andrews Fund, 2007
Not on view
Trained partly in Rome, where he settled in 1690, Luti enjoyed the patronage of Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. He was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca in 1694 and elected its principal in 1720. In addition to being a painter, draftsman, and pastelist, Luti was a connoisseur, collector, and dealer. His pastels fall into three groups: portraits, bearded male heads thought to represent apostles, and studies from the model. This work is the best of a number of versions of a study of a boy wearing a blue coat in which Luti conveys the disarming directness and sweetness of childhood.
In addition to being a painter, draftsman, and pastellist, the Florentine-born Luti was a connoisseur, drawings collector, and dealer, so busy, apparently, that he left only a small oeuvre. He studied both in Florence and Rome, where he settled in 1690, opened a drawing academy, and enjoyed the continuing patronage of Cosimo III de' Medici (1642–1723), Grand Duke of Tuscany. (In 1670, while in France, the Grand Duke had visited the studio of Robert Nanteuil [1623–1678], a well-known portraitist working in pastel and colored chalks and thereafter he encouraged the practice of pastel portraiture.) Luti was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1694 and elected its principal in 1720. His highly colored pastels, relatively small in scale, were admired by his contemporaries, who saw in them the influence of Correggio (active by 1514, d. 1534) and Federico Barocci (1535?–1612). Of three types—portraits, bearded male heads, and, as here, studies from the model—Luti's are the earliest finished pastels made in Italy. Although limited in number, they are a characteristic aspect of his work, and he seems to have presented them to important clients.
In this study head of a boy wearing a blue coat Luti conveys the disarming directness and sweetness of the child. The study exists in many versions, painted and drawn, but none of the others exhibits the intensity of glance, the brightness of tone, or the tensile strength of the colored strokes found here. The work is one of a pair (for its pendant, see 2007.361).
[Katharine Baetjer 2010]
Inscription: Signed and dated (reverse): Roma 1717 / Il Caual[iere] / Benedetto Luti fece.
[Hampton & Sons, London]; Elizabeth Huth Coates, San Antonio (until d. 1996); her son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Stieren, San Antonio (1996–2000; sale, Christie's, London, July 4, 2000, no. 125, for £32,900 to Brady); [W. M. Brady, New York, 2000–2007; sale Sotheby's, New York, May 27, 2004, no. 9, withdrawn; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th-Century Europe," May 17–August 14, 2011, no. 1.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Eighteenth-Century Pastels," August 6–December 29, 2013, no catalogue.
Katharine Baetjer in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2007–2008." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 66 (Fall 2008), p. 26, ill. (color), states that the two pendants, "which seem always to have been together, display contrasting moods, lighting, and tone"; mentions variants of this study in the Uffizi, Florence; the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich; and the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Katharine Baetjer and Marjorie Shelley. "Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th-Century Europe." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 68 (Spring 2011), pp. 6–7, 45, no. 1, ill. (color).
Rodolfo Maffeis. Benedetto Luti: l'ultimo maestro. Florence, 2012, pp. 322, 342–43, no. IV.23, ill.