Giovanni Navarretti. Ricordi di pittura. August 28, 1648, c. 5v [Schippisi family archives, Piacenza; published in Ref. Paliaga 2009, p. 219], mentions seeing a painting by Rosa depicting a philosopher contemplating a skull, without identifying the sitter.
Inventory of Giovanni Battista Ricciardi. April 22, 1687 [Archivio di Stato, Florence, Notarile moderno, Notaio Antonio Del Vigna, protocollo n. 21316, fol. 178–180v., folio 180; also in the "Filza" 10730 (1687–90); published in Ref. Meroni 1978, p. 95], lists it as "un quadro grande . . . dipintovi un filosofo che scrive sopra una testa di morto".
Giovanni Cinelli Calvoli. La Toscana letterata ovvero storia degli scrittori fiorentini. [before 1705] [Biblioteca Nationale Centrale, Florence, Magliabechiani manuscripts, classe IX, codice 67; published in Ref. Meroni 1978, p. 105], describes it as "Ricciardi in abito filosofico ritratto in atto di contemplare un teschio umano, nel cui quadro son queste parole scritte: 'Salvator Rosa dipinse nell'Eremo e donò a Gio Batta Ricciardi suo amico'".
Pio Bonso Bonsi in Il trionfo delle bell'arti. Exh. cat., Accademici del Disegno. Florence, 1767, p. 32, lists it as a portrait by Salvator Rosa, painted by himself in the act of writing on a skull, in the collection of Sig. Cav. Niccolò Ricciardi Serguidi.
Serie degli uomini i piu' illustri in pittura, scultura, e architettura. Vol. 11, Florence, 1775, p. 69 n. 3, mentions it as a self-portrait by Rosa in the collection of Sig. Cav. Ricciardi.
Francesco Inghirami. Storia della Toscana. Vol. 14, Fiesole, 1844, p. 176, describes it as a picture representing Ricciardi dressed as a philosopher in the act of contemplating a skull, which was presented to Ricciardi by Rosa.
Arthur McComb. The Baroque Painters of Italy: An Introductory Historical Survey. Cambridge, Mass., 1934, p. 87, as a self-portrait.
Eleanor C. Marquand. Letter to Margaret D. Sloane. January 26, 1935, notes that the Greek scholar Adolph Cotton translates the words on the skull as "Behold, whither, when," but cannot identify a source for them.
Eleanor C. Marquand. Letter to Margaret D. Sloane. January 17, 1935, states that the garland in this picture is made from the cypress of southern Europe, which was regarded as symbolic of mourning.
H. Voss in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 29, Leipzig, 1935, p. 2, as a self-portrait; records the painting's inscription as: "Salvator Rosa dipinse nell'Eremo e donò a Gio. Battª Ricardi suo amico".
Aldo de Rinaldis. Lettere inedite di Salvator Rosa a G. B. Ricciardi. Rome, 1939, p. 73 n. 3, ill. opp. p. 8, as a self-portrait, almost like a Saint Jerome; notes that the hermitage of the inscription was probably Camaldoli, where Rosa went in the summer of 1645.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 259–60, ill., as "Portrait of the Artist".
Judith Kaye Reed. "Presenting Salvator Rosa, Early Romantic." Art Digest 22 (March 15, 1948), p. 17, regrets that this portrait was not included in the Salvator Rosa exhibition at Durlacher Galleries.
A. M. F[rankfurter]. "Inventor of Romanticism." Art News 47 (March 1948), p. 52.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), pp. 4, 24, ill.
Uberto Limentani. Letter. 1958, rejects the identification of the sitter in this picture as Rosa, identifying him with the man Rosa represented in his portraits in the National Gallery, London, and in the collection of Earl Grosvenor; observes that the MMA painting is certainly the one described by Inghirami [see Ref. 1844].
Jacob Bean. Dessins romains du XVIIe siècle: Artistes italiens contemporains de Poussin. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1959, p. 37, under no. 63, believes the recto and verso of Louvre drawing 9730 contain early ideas for this self-portrait and mentions another related drawing in the Teyler Foundation, Haarlem; decribes the sitter on the recto as crowned with laurel.
Ottilie G. Boetzkes. Salvator Rosa: Seventeenth-Century Italian Painter, Poet, and Patriot. New York, 1960, p. 140, 188, no. 80, ill., refers to it as an idealized self-portrait.
Walter Vitzthum. "Seicento Drawings at the Cabinet des Dessins." Burlington Magazine 102 (February 1960), p. 76, observes that the wreath is not laurel but cypress.
Luigi Salerno. Salvator Rosa. Milan, 1963, pp. 50, 123, no. 40, pl. 40, notes that this generally accepted self-portrait might have been executed between February and May 1659 when Rosa was visiting Ricciardi; points out that two related drawings are in the Louvre, Paris.
W. V[itzthum]. "Publications Received." Master Drawings 1 (Winter 1963), p. 59, considers a drawing in the National Gallery of South Africa at Capetown to be a study for this self-portrait.
Robert Oertel. "Die Vergänglichkeit der Künste: Ein Vanitas-Stilleben von Salvator Rosa." Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, 3rd ser., 14 (1963), pp. 108, 117 nn. 13–14, dates it to the mid-1640s; notes that the hermitage mentioned in the inscription was probably Vallombrosa, where the artist stayed on numerous occasions between 1642 and 1648 in the villa of Rafaello Landini; sees in the melancholy air of this self-portrait a "fashionable coquetry," especially in the casually opened jacket and the enticingly long falling locks of the sitter.
Valdo Zocchi. Salvator Rosa a Firenze. Florence, 1963, pl. 1, suggests it was painted at Camaldoli, where Rosa went by 1645.
Richard W. Wallace. "The Genius of Salvator Rosa." Art Bulletin 47 (December 1965), pp. 474–75, believes the word "Seneca," faintly legible on the spine of the book, refers to Rosa's Stoic attitudes; considers the cypress wreath on the artist's head to have a "funerary significance".
Richard W. Wallace. "The Figure Paintings of Salvator Rosa." PhD diss., Princeton University, 1965, pp. 13, 16, 38, 54, 56, 137 n. 119, fig. 21, dates it "probably 1659" and sees it as an expression of "Rosa's fascination with the theme of human fragility and evanescence"; observes that the artist portrays himself in a "Saint Jerome-like situation"; notes that the pictorial type is repeated in four of Rosa's drawings: two in the Louvre, Paris, one in the Teyler Museum, Haarlem, and a fourth in the Uffizi, Florence.
Alfred Moir in Art in Italy, 1600–1700. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1965, p. 139, under no. 153, observes that this self-portrait is "signed in such a manner as to imply a date of 1659".
Catherine Monbeig Goguel and Walter Vitzthum. Le dessin à Naples du XVIe siècle au XVIIIe siècle. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1967, p. 21, no. 40, date it between February and May 1659 when Rosa was staying with Ricciardi; note that although this painting is traditionally called a self-portrait on the basis of the inscription, Zeri considers it to be a portrait of Ricciardi.
Richard W. Wallace. "Salvator Rosa's "Justice Appearing to the Peasants"." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 30 (1967), p. 432 n. 1.
Françoise Viatte in Roseline Bacou. Great Drawings of the Louvre Museum. Vol. 2, The Italian Drawings. New York, 1968, unpaginated, under no. 93, dates it between February and May 1659.
John Paoletti. "The Italian School: Problems and Suggestions." Apollo 88 (December 1968), p. 428, as a self-portrait.
Richard W. Wallace. "Salvator Rosa's 'Democritus' and 'L'Umana Fragilità'." Art Bulletin 50 (March 1968), pp. 21–23, 27, fig. 2, notes that this self-portrait relates to "the Riberesque motive of the isolated figure with a skull"; observes that the painting has "the skull, books, pen, and paper so often seen in the paintings of St. Jerome as a solitary, scholarly penitent, and the inscription on the piece of paper declares that it was painted 'nell'Eremo'"; finds the way in which the skull is held and contemplated in this picture reminiscent of Domenico Fetti's painting of "Melancholy" (fig. 4, Accademia, Venice) and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione's etching of the subject (fig. 5); also suggests that Rosa may have been influenced by the well-established tradition of the portrait with a skull in Northern sixteenth- and seventeenth-century art.
Oreste Ferrari. "Salvator Rosa." Storia dell'arte no. 1/2 (1969), pp. 210–11, as a self-portrait.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Unpublished manuscript for catalogue of Neapolitan paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [ca. 1970], consider it to be the portrait of Ricciardi described by Giovanni Cinelli Calvoli [see Ref. 1705]; note that it bears no resemblance to Rosa's "authenticated" self-portrait in the Uffizi.
Nancy Rash Fabbri. "Salvator Rosa's Engraving for Carlo de' Rossi and his Satire, 'Invidia'." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 33 (1970), p. 329, sees this portrait as an illustration of Rosa's conviction, evidenced in his satires, that "artists should be learned, well versed in science, history, and mythology, and philosophy as well as painters".
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 177, 517, 606, as a portrait of Ricciardi.
Michael Kitson in Helen Langdon. Salvator Rosa. Exh. cat., Hayward Gallery. London, 1973, pp. 11, 26–27, no. 22, pl. 10, observe that it can be viewed either as a self-portrait or as a portrait of Ricciardi depending on how one interprets the words "in retreat"; point out that Rosa regularly visited Ricciardi at the villa of Giulio Maffei, at Monterufoli, in summers during the late 1640s; note that the painting "seems undoubtedly to represent the same man as the portrait in the Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, Siena, which is usually assumed to be a self-portrait"; consider the features in the MMA picture to be "a little harder to reconcile with those of the National Gallery [London] 'Self-portrait'"; date the MMA painting, if it does in fact represent Rosa, to the early 1650s at the latest.
Luigi Salerno. "Salvator Rosa at the Hayward Gallery." Burlington Magazine 115 (December 1973), p. 827, considers a date of June 1640 "now stylistically acceptable"; finds plausible Zeri's hypothesis that the portrait is of Ricciardi.
Luigi Salerno. "Salvator Rosa: postille alla mostra di Londra." Arte illustrata nos. 55–56 (1973), p. 409, favors dating it 1640 and identifying the sitter as Ricciardi.
Fabia Borroni Salvadori. "Le esposizioni d'arte a Firenze dal 1674 al 1767." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 18, no. 1 (1974), pp. 119–20, lists it in exhibitions in Florence in 1706, 1729, and 1767.
Luigi Salerno. L'opera completa di Salvator Rosa. Milan, 1975, pp. 86–87, no. 27, ill., tentatively refers to it as a portrait of Ricciardi.
Helen Langdon. "Salvator Rosa: His Ideas and Development as an Artist." PhD diss., Courtauld Institute of Art, 1975, suggests it was painted in Monterufoli where Rosa stayed in 1647 and 1650 [see Ref. Langdon 1973].
Peter Tomory. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings before 1800. Sarasota, 1976, p. 158, includes it in a list of known self-portraits by Rosa.
Michael Mahoney. The Drawings of Salvator Rosa. Vol. 1, New York, 1977, pp. 103, 121, 471–76, pl. 37, publishes and illustrates four drawings related to this picture, which he dates to the mid-1650s; notes that the "eremo" of the inscription "could refer to some country retreat of the Florentine period, Ricciardi's own villa, Strozzavolpe, for example," or "it may allude figuratively to Rome where Rosa missed Ricciardi's companionship"; publishes a drawing in the Wadsworth Atheneum as possibly an idea for a female portrait scheme similar in iconography to the MMA painting; considers unsound Zeri's hypothesis that this is not a self-portrait but a portrait of Ricciardi.
Wendy Wassyng Roworth. "Pictor Succensor": A Study of Salvator Rosa as Satirist, Cynic and Painter. PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College. New York, 1978, pp. 258–59, 271 nn. 55, 57, fig. 56, dates it between 1647 and 1650 and believes it was painted during the summer in Monterufoli or in Rome; suggests that this portrait, presumably made and given in friendship to Ricciardi, is similar in type to two self-portraits by Poussin, of 1649 and 1650, which were given to his friends and patrons Chantelou and Pointel.
Ubaldo Meroni. Lettere e altri documenti intorno alla storia della pittura: Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione detto il Grechetto, Salvator Rosa, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Monzambano, Italy, 1978, pp. 7–8, 95 n. 3, p. 105 n.1, considers it a portrait of Ricciardi, emphatically rejecting its identification as a self-portrait; publishes the Ricciardi inventory of 1687 and tentatively identifies the MMA painting as the "philosopher who writes on a skull"; also publishes an excerpt from Cinelli Calvoli's seventeenth-century manuscript [see Ref. 1705], and notes that it confirms the identification of the sitter as Ricciardi.
Richard W. Wallace. Salvator Rosa in America. Exh. cat., Wellesley College Museum. Wellesley, Mass., 1979, pp. 11–13, 21, no. 3, fig. 3, as a self-portrait.
Richard W. Wallace. The Etchings of Salvator Rosa. Princeton, 1979, pp. 43–44, ill., as a self-portrait; suggests that Rosa "may have realized that the writings of Seneca were not the best support for the quietist attitudes so evident in the 'Self Portrait with a Skull' and for that reason he may have painted over the 'Seneca' on the spine of the book".
Uberto Limentani. Letter to Shelley E. Zuraw. August 10, 1979, states that "the balance of probability points towards the painting being a self-portrait, as the features of the sitter appear to bear some resemblance to those of the self-portrait in the National Gallery, London"; suggests Strozzavolpe as the possible "eremo" of the inscription, with the Villa of Monterufoli, belonging to the Maffei family, as a possible alternative; believes that "'eremo', in Rosa's parlance, meant a country retreat, away from the bustle of towns".
Uberto Limentani. Letter to Shelley E. Zuraw. July 24, 1979, states that he "would not rule out the possibility of the features of the sitter of the Metropolitan Museum painting being the same as those of the self-portrait in the National Gallery, London: possibly, then, a somewhat idealized self-portrait, in keeping with the Stoic notions which Rosa shared with his friend Ricciardi; possibly, a portrait of someone else, the strongest candidate in this case being Ricciardi".
Ubaldo Meroni. "Salvator Rosa: autoritratti e ritratti di amici." Prospettiva no. 25 (April 1981), pp. 65, 68 n. 2, fig. 1.
John T. Spike. Baroque Portraiture in Italy: Works from North American Collections. Exh. cat., John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Sarasota, 1984, pp. 158–59, no. 58, ill., as a portrait of Ricciardi; notes that the tear on the sitter's cheek was uncovered when the picture was cleaned; regards this painting as a "letter-perfect exposition of two tenets of stoic philosophy: the active contemplation of death and its inevitability, and remorse over the vanity of man".
Oreste Ferrari. "L'iconografia dei filosofi antichi nella pittura del sec. XVII in Italia." Storia dell'arte 57 (1986), p. 133, as a portrait of Ricciardi.
Monica Preti. Il Seicento Fiorentino: Arte a Firenze da Ferdinando I a Cosimo III. Exh. cat., Florence Palazzo Strozzi. Florence, 1986, vol. 1, p. 394, no. 1.218, ill. (color); vol. 2, p. 157, tentatively calls it a portrait of Ricciardi and suggests a date of about 1645.
Monica Preti in La pittura in Italia: il Seicento. Ed. Mina Gregori and Erich Schleier. Milan, 1988, vol. 2, p. 868, as a portrait of Ricciardi; dates it to the early 1640s.
Wendy Wassyng Roworth. "The Consolations of Friendship: Salvator Rosa's Self-portrait for Giovanni Battista Ricciardi." Metropolitan Museum Journal 23 (1988), pp. 103–24, fig. 1, as a self-portrait painted in Rome in late 1656 or 1657 as a "friendship painting" for Ricciardi; refutes the hypothesis that it is a portrait of Ricciardi, noting that a 1687 inventory demonstrates Ricciardi's ownership of the image but not his role as subject; notes that as early as 1767 it was considered a self-portrait; demonstrates that the years around 1656 were troubled ones for Rosa and that Ricciardi consoled him with letters and poems, and hypothesizes that the painting was a visual response to this; believes the "Eremo" in the inscription refers not to a place but metaphorically to Rosa's loneliness and solitary existence in Rome.
Wendy Wassyng Roworth. "Salvator Rosa's Self-portraits: Some Problems of Identity and Meaning." The Seventeenth Century 4 (Autumn 1989), pp. 118, 120, 137–38, fig. 2, reiterates her hypothesis that this picture is a self-portrait made as a special gift for Ricciardi in 1657, noting that Rosa's likeness can be understood as a response and pictorial equivalent to an ode Ricciardi sent the artist in 1656; compares it to a work in the National Gallery, London, often considered a self-portrait, but probably an allegorical self-representation.
Michael R. T. Mahoney in Wadsworth Atheneum Paintings. Ed. Jean K. Cadogan. Vol. 2, Italy and Spain: Fourteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. Hartford, 1991, p. 216.
Gabriele Finaldi. Letter to Andrea Bayer. October 17, 1994, states that a comparison of this painting with Rosa's portrait in the National Gallery, London "suggested very strongly that the sitters were the same person"; believes that Rosa's "'Self-portrait as Pascariello' [private collection, England] is undoubtedly the touchstone for Rosa's appearance in the early 1640s" and "confirms the identification of the Met's picture as a self-portrait".
Jonathan Scott. Salvator Rosa: His Life and Times. New Haven, 1995, pp. 68–70, ill. (color), tends toward an interpretation of the work as a portrait of Ricciardi and notes that it is "unlikely that Rosa would have portrayed himself writing Greek in a portrait given to a friend who knew that he could not understand a word of the language"; dates it about 1648, when both Rosa and Ricciardi were staying with the Maffei family; considers the pose of the sitter "almost identical" to that of Rosa's "Philosopher Contemplating a Skull" (Christ Church, Oxford), which originally belonged to the Maffei family.
Wendy Wassyng Roworth. "Salvator Rosa: His Life and Times." Art History 20 (March 1997), p. 178.
Andreas Stolzenburg in Salvator Rosa, Genie der Zeichnung: Studien und Skizzen aus Leipzig und Haarlem. Ed. Herwig Guratzsch. Cologne, 1999, pp. 140–42, ill., as a self-portrait of 1656–57.
Keith Christiansen. "Going for Baroque: Bringing 17th-Century Masters to the Met." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 62 (Winter 2005), p. 9, fig. 5 (color).
Sybille Ebert-Schifferer in Salvator Rosa: tra mito e magia. Exh. cat., Museo di Capodimonte. Naples, 2008, pp. 68, 80 n. 17, finds a precedent to the sitter's action of writing on a skull in a painting by Battistello Caracciolo of Saints Cosmas and Damian (about 1618–19; private collection, Padua).
Brigitte Daprà in Salvator Rosa: tra mito e magia. Exh. cat., Museo di Capodimonte. Naples, 2008, pp. 63, 65 n. 33, pp. 104–5, no. 5, ill. (color), calls it a portrait of Ricciardi, based on the inscription and on the description in the Cinelli Calvoli manuscript [see Ref. 1705].
Marco Chiarini. "Salvator Rosa." Art e dossier no. 243 (April 2008), ill. p. 46 (color), dates it about 1656–57.
Keith Christiansen in Philippe de Montebello and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977–2008. New York, 2009, p. 36.
Franco Paliaga. Pittori, incisori e architetti pisani nel secolo di Galileo. Ghezzano, Italy, 2009, pp. 151–53, 172 nn. 92–93, 99, pp. 219, 230, ill. (color), publishes Giovanni Navarretti's record of August 28, 1648 [see Ref.], where he describes seeing a picture by Rosa of a philosopher contemplating a skull.
Helen Langdon in Salvator Rosa. Exh. cat., Dulwich Picture Gallery. London, 2010, pp. 29, 103–4, 109, 112, 114–17, no. 5, ill. (color, overall and detail), dates it about 1647.
Caterina Volpi in Salvator Rosa. Exh. cat., Dulwich Picture Gallery. London, 2010, pp. 59, 220.
Hugh Hudson. "An Unpublished Letter from Salvator Rosa." Burlington Magazine 153 (January 2011), p. 30, dates it "1642 or earlier".
Caterina Volpi in "Io vel'avviso perché so che n'haverete gusto": Salvator Rosa e Giovanni Battista Ricciardi attraverso documenti inediti. Rome, 2012, pp. 19–20 n. 33, pp. 52, 58, fig. 1, ill. on cover (color).
Franco Paliaga in "Io vel'avviso perché so che n'haverete gusto": Salvator Rosa e Giovanni Battista Ricciardi attraverso documenti inediti. Rome, 2012, pp. 38, 40, 48 n. 89.