Our knowledge of Italian still life painting is still in its infancy. This striking still life has been ascribed to Velázquez, Giuseppe Ruoppolo (a leading exponent of Neopolitan still life painting), and Giovanni Paolo Spadino. It is currently attributed to the Fleming Abraham Brueghel, who worked in Rome and Naples, indicating the international exchanges that shaped the genre of still life.
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Title:Pomegranates and Other Fruit in a Landscape
Artist:Abraham Brueghel (Flemish, 1631–1697)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:24 3/8 x 29 1/8 in. (61.9 x 74 cm)
Credit Line:Purchase, 1871
[Léon Gauchez, Paris, until 1870, as by Velázquez; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris and New York (1870–71; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett, New York, and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1871; sold to The Met)
Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "European Masters of the XVII and XVIII Centuries," January 13–February 5, 1950, no. 25 (as "Fruit," by Giovanni Battista Ruoppoli).
Southampton, N.Y. Parrish Art Museum. "Paintings from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," July 22–August 18, 1954, unnumbered cat. (as "Fruit," by Giovanni Battista Ruoppoli).
Allentown, Pa. Allentown Art Museum. "Four Centuries of Still Life," December 12, 1959–January 31, 1960, no. 86 (as "Fruit," by Giovanni Battista Ruoppoli).
[Henry James]. "Art: The Dutch and Flemish Pictures in New York." Atlantic Monthly 29 (June 1872), p. 760 [reprinted in John L. Sweeney, ed., "The Painter's Eye," London, 1956, pp. 58–59], as by Velázquez.
Léon Gauchez inCatalogue of the Pictures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, No. 681 Fifth Avenue, in the City of New York. New York, 1872, p. 63, no. 171, as "Fruits," by Velázquez.
T. G. A. "Fine Arts: A Collection of Old Masters in New York." Old and New 5 (May 1872), p. 629.
Charles B. Curtis. Velazquez and Murillo. London, 1883, p. 40, no. 91, attributes it to Velázquez; states that "an etching of this picture was promised in the second volume of the series of etchings by Jacquemart, after the paintings in this museum; a work which the artist did not live to complete".
F[ritz von]. Harck. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde: Aus amerikanischen Galerien." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 11 (1888), p. 73, as by Velázquez, citing Ref. Curtis 1883.
R. A. M. Stevenson. Velasquez. London, 1906, p. 129, lists it as by Velázquez.
Bryson Burroughs. Catalogue of Paintings. 1st ed. New York, 1914, p. 216, attributes it to Giuseppe Recco.
Bryson Burroughs. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Catalogue of Paintings. 9th ed. New York, 1931, p. 316, attributes it to Giuseppe Ruoppolo.
Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 29, Leipzig, 1935, p. 212, attributes it to Giovanni Battista Ruoppolo, calling Burroughs' [see Ref. 1931] attribution to Giuseppe Ruoppolo erroneous.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 263–64, ill., attributes it to Giovanni Battista Ruoppolo; lists Paolo Antonio Barbieri among previous attributions.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 88.
Creighton Gilbert. Letter to Theodore Rousseau. December 14, 1960, writes that he has been in touch with Raffaello Causa, who attributes it "to someone very close to Spadino".
Giuseppe De Logu. Natura morta italiana. Bergamo, 1962, p. 191, attributes it to the Roman circle of Porpora, along with still lifes in Rome, Boston, and Detroit.
Raffaello Causa inLa natura morta italiana. Exh. cat., Palazzo Reale, Naples. Milan, 1964, p. 68, under nos. 133 and 134, attributes it to Michelangelo da Campidoglio (Michelangelo Pace, 1610–1670), dating it to the 1640s, the same time as a still life with fruit in the Bosco collection, Rome.
Federico Zeri. Unpublished catalogue entry. [ca. 1970–72], attributes it to Giovanni Paolo Spadino and dates it to about the same time as paintings by him in the Raccamadoro-Ramelli collection, Porto San Giorgio, one of which is dated 1701.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 191, 507, 605, as by Giovanni Paolo Spadino.
Raffaello Causa. Storia di Napoli. Vol. 5, La natura morta a Napoli nel sei e nel settecento. Naples, 1972, pp. 1019, 1047–48 nn. 83–84, attributes it to an unknown painter working in Naples in the circle of Giovanni Battista Ruoppolo whom he designates the "Maestro del Metropolitan"; mentions a replica at Finch College Museum of Art, New York, and related works in the museums in Dresden and Berlin, and three Italian private collections (Ciollaro Galante, Naples, Bosco, Rome, and Chiacchio, Naples).
Laura Laureati and Ludovica Trezzani inLa natura morta in Italia. Ed. Francesco Porzio and Federico Zeri. Milan, 1989, vol. 2, pp. 731, 784, fig. 921, attribute it to the Maestro del Metropolitan, active during the 1660s and 1670s; note similarities to Abraham Brueghel and relate it to paintings in the museums in Hamburg and Berlin, in a private collection (two unpublished still lifes), and in the Lodi collection, Campione d'Italia.
Xander van Eck. "On 17th century Roman Still Life Painting: Michelangelo da Campidoglio, Abraham Brueghel and the Master of the Metropolitan Museum." Paragone, n.s., 40 (March 1989), pp. 83–84, pl. 69, does not "see any objection to attributing the entire Master of the Metropolitan group to Michelangelo da Campidoglio".
Gianluca Bocchi and Ulisse Bocchi. Natura picta. Exh. cat., Galleria d'Orlane, Milan. Vignola, 1991, pp. 44, 46, attribute it to the Maestro del Metropolitan, an exuberant artist influenced by Brueghel and Campidoglio; state that a picture recently with the Galerie Pardo, Paris, is an exact replica of the MMA painting and that it has been assigned to Brueghel by Franco Moro.
Gianluca Bocchi and Ulisse Bocchi. Naturalia: Nature morte in collezioni pubbliche e private. Casalmaggiore, 1992, pp. 218, 222, fig. 102, do not believe that Campidoglio and the Maestro del Metropolitan are the same artist; discuss similarities to Brueghel; mention the replica of the MMA painting formerly at the Galerie Pardo.
Hans Vlieghe. Letter to Walter Liedtke. March 23, 1993, writes that "the style of the painting looks quite close to what in my opinion is Brueghel's manner".
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 133, ill.
Old Master Pictures. Christie's, London. July 9, 2003, p. 158, under no. 85, mentions it in connection with a still life from a private collection, Switzerland, attributed to the Metropolitan Master.
Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 167, 173, 222, 245, appendix 1A no. 171, ill. p. 222 and fig. 8 (with frame).
Walter Liedtke. "Toward a New Edition of Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Munuscula Amicorum: Contributions on Rubens and His Colleagues in Honour of Hans Vlieghe. Ed. Katlijne van der Stighelen. Vol. 2, Turnhout, Belgium, 2006, p. 672, fig. 5.
A replica (57.5 x 77.5 cm) of this picture was exhibited at the Galerie Pardo, Paris, in 1989, as by Abraham Brueghel (see F. Moro, Thèmes de l'âge classique, exh. cat., Paris, 1989, pp. 63–65, ill.; see also Ref. Bocchi and Bocchi 1992, fig. 100). Another replica (59 x 72 cm) was sold at Sotheby's, London, July 5, 1995, no. 61, as by the Maestro del Metropolitan.
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