The mirror projecting a woman’s face towards us has been included in order to create an allegory of sight, probably based on prototypes by Jusepe de Ribera, a Spanish painter active in Naples from 1616 until his death in 1652. The present painter’s name remains unknown, though similar handling and palette are found in a small group of works executed in Naples between around 1620 and 1640. The conceit of the mirror offering two views and evoking sight and self-knowledge are found to similar effect in Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun’s Julie Le Brun, Looking in a Mirror (1787), also part of The Met’s collection.
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Title:The Sense of Sight
Artist:Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds (Italian, active Naples, ca. 1620–40)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:Overall, with added strips, 29 7/8 x 24 7/8 in. (75.9 x 63.2 cm); without additions 27 3/4 x 21 3/4 in. (70.5 x 55.2 cm)
Credit Line:The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982
Sir Herbert Frederick Cook, Doughty House, Richmond (1919–39; cat., 1932, p. 59, no. 553, as by Ribera); Sir Francis Ferdinand Maurice Cook, Doughty House, Richmond (1939–about 1950); Jack and Belle Linsky, New York (about 1950–his d. 1980); The Jack and Belle Linsky Foundation, New York (1980–82)
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Exhibition of Spanish Paintings," November 1920–January 1921, no. 52 (as "A Girl with a Mirror," by Ribera, lent by Sir Herbert Cook, Bart.).
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
Exhibition of Spanish Paintings. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1920, p. 42, no. 52, as "A Girl with a Mirror" by Ribera; notes that the mirror is "an essentially Spanish adjunct," which can also be seen in Velázquez's "Rokeby Venus" (National Gallery, London).
Jesús Hernández Perera. "Bartolome Bassante y el "Maestro del Anuncio a los Pastores"." Archivo Español de Arte 30 (1957), pp. 220–21, pl. 5, ascribes our picture to the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds; identifies the subject as "Sight" and suggests that the work was probably part of a series of the Five Senses much like Ribera's series of half-length figures; considers a painting of the Sense of Hearing (Mont collection, New York), which he only knows from a photograph, to be part of such a series by the artist; notes the Flemish influence on the aforementioned works.
Giuseppe De Vito. Letter to John Pope-Hennessy. June 7, 1983, as by the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds.
Keith Christiansen inThe Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 44–46, ill. (color), accepts Perera's [Ref. 1957] attribution of this picture to the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds and suggests that it may date to as late as 1640, when the artist's work "shows an increasingly fluid handling and refinement"; agrees with Perera that the subject is an allegory of Sight and must be based on Ribera's prototypes, but does not believe that the man playing a mandolin formerly in the Mont collection is a companion to our picture, as its dimensions differ considerably; suggests the latter work was part of a second, earlier series of the senses by our Master.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 139, ill. p. 138.
The original picture surface has been enlarged 1 7/8 in. at the left, 1 1/4 in. at the right, 1 3/8 in. at the top, and 3/4 in. at the bottom. The additions are masked by the frame. In general the condition is excellent, although the contours have been strengthened somewhat and there is an old tear through the bust and left arm.
The proposals over the past to identify this anonymous Neapolitan painter much influenced by Ribera with either Juan Dò (1604?–?1656) or Bartolomeo Bassante must be abandoned. The former can now be identified as a copyist of Ribera; the latter is a mis-transcription for Bartolomeo Passante (1618–1648), who painted in a quite distinctively different style (correspondence with Nicola Spinosa).
For the identification of the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds as Juan Dò, see: Giuseppe De Vito, "Variazioni sul nome del Maestro dell'Annuncio ai pastori," in Ricerche sul '600 napoletano: Saggi e documenti 1996–1997, Naples, 1998, pp. 7–62. Giuseppe De Vito, "Juan Dò riconfermato," in Ricerche sul '600 napoletano: Saggi e documenti 2003–2004, Naples, 2004, pp. 85–91. Giuseppe De Vito, "Alcuni dipinti inediti o poco noti di Juan Dò," in Ricerche sul '600 napoletano: Saggi e documenti 2008, Naples, 2009, pp. 33–38. Andrea Donati, "Giovanni Dò e i temi sapienziali," in Ricerche sul '600 napoletano: Saggi e documenti 2008, Naples, 2009, pp. 57–69.
This work may not be lent, by terms of its acquisition by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (Italian, Venice 1727–1804 Venice)
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