Portrait of the actor Francesco Andreini, c. 1623
Rome, Lucien Bonaparte collection, room VI, 1808;
London, February 6, 1815, unsold at the first sale of Lucien Bonaparte collection;
London, May 14-16, 1816, sold at the second sale of the Lucien Bonaparte collection;
France, Baron H. de la Bouillerie collection;
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Mai 28, 1909, lot. no. 72 (as Ribera);
Indre-et-Loire, Château de Villandry, Joachim Carvallo collection;
Tours, November 19,1953, lot. no. 91 (as école de Diego Velasquez, Portrait présumé du Marquis de Spinola)
Lugano, private collection, 1953;
Paris, Hôtel des Ventes, sale of Tableax anciens et modernes, November 19, 1953, lot no. 91;
G.A. Guattani, Galleria del Senatore Luciano Bonaparte, Roma 1808, vol. I, p. 111, no. 59; Choix de gravures à l’eau-forte, d’après les peintures originales et les marbres de la galerie de Lucien Bonaparte - cent quarante-deux gravures, London 1812, p. 4, no. 82, pl. 82; Catalogue of the Splendid Collection of Pictures belonging to Prince Lucien Bonaparte, which will be exhibited for sale by Private Contract, on Monday the Sixth Day of February, 1815 and following days, at the New Gallery, (Mr. Buchanans), [...], London 1815, p. 43, no. 158; Magnificent Gallery of Paintings, catalogue of the sale, London, Stanley, May 14-16, 1816, London 1816, no. 86; W. Buchanan, Memoirs of Painting; with a Chronological History of the Importation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution, London, 1824, vol. II, p. 291, no. 112; J. Carvalho et al, Exposition d’art ancien espagnol du 6 juin au 6 juillet 1925 en l’Hôtel Jean Charpentier Paris, organisée par la Demeure Historique, Paris 1925, no. 108; H. Olsen, Federico Barocci, Copenhagen 1962, p. 241; E. A. Safarik, Fetti, Milano 1990, pp. 284-286 (fig.); R. Bartoli Contini, La Galleria Bonaparte. Catalogo, in Luciano Bonaparte le sue collezioni d’arte, le sue residenze a Roma, nel Lazio, in Italia (1804), Rome 1995, p. 318-319, no. 13; E. A. Safarik, Domenico Fetti (1588/89-1623), catalogue of the exhibition (Mantua, Palazzo Tè, September 15-December 15, 1996), Milano 1996, p. 181, sub no. 43; S. Ferrone, Pose sceniche di una famiglia d’attori in E. A. Safarik (a cura di), Domenico Fetti (1588/89-1623), 1996, p. 52, fig. 2; S. Mazzoni, Genealogia e vicende della famiglia Andreini, in Origini della Commedia. Improvvisa o dell’arte, proceedings of the seminar (Rome and Anagni October 12-15, 1995), Rome 1996, p. 119; B. Edelein-Badie, La collection de tableaux de Lucien Bonaparte, prince de Canino, Paris 1997, p. 148, no. 11; M. Gregori, “Due ritrattisti fiorentini da tenere in considerazione: Valore e Domenico Casini”, in Gazette des beaux-arts, no. 135, 2000, pp. 135-137, fig. 7; L. Goldenberg Stoppato, “Per Domenico e Valore Casini, ritrattisti fiorentini”, in Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 48, 2004 (2005), p. 198, note 40; Teatro italiano tra letteratura, commedia dell’arte, feste e melodramma (XVI-XVIII sec.), Lugano/ Rozzano 2005, reproduced on the cover; F. Petrucci, Bernini pittore “dal disegno al meraviglioso composto”, Rome 2006, p. 399, fig. 8a; Italian Paintings from the 17th to the 18th Centuries, catalogue of the exhibition at SperoneWestwater, New York, 2011, p. 24.
ExhibitionsParis, Hôtel Jean Charpentier, Exposition d’art ancien espagnol, organisée par la Demeure Historique, June 6-July 6, 1925. New York, Robilant + Voena at SperoneWestwater, Italian Paintings from the 17th to the 18th Centuries, 7 Jan – 19 Feb 2011.
The Bonaparte catalogues identify the sitter in this portrait as the “Tyrant Cavalca” from Pesaro. This identification was set aside by both of the modern authors who have studied the collection of Lucien Bonaparte, Béatrice Edelein-Badie and Roberta Bartoli Contini. The sitter’s true identity was established in 1990 by Eduard Safarik, while he was examining Domenico Fetti’s portrait of an actor holding a mask that belongs to Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage (fig. 1). As Safarik pointed out, when the Fetti portrait was reproduced in 1742, it was clearly indicated as the portrait of a ‘Comedien’, a commedia dell’arte actor, who worked for the Duke of Mantua (see Recueil d'estampes d'après les plus beaux tableaux et d'après les plus beaux desseins qui sont en France dans le cabinet du Roy, dans celui de Monseigneur le Duc d'Orléans, et dans d'autres cabinets [...], Paris, 1729-1742, vol. II, 1742, p. 40, pl. 109). Safarik discarded a series of names of actors that had previously been suggested for the sitter and identified the sitter in Fetti’s portrait as Francesco Andreini, the Tuscan ‘comico’ who invented the character Capitan Spavento, literally Captain Fear, from Vall’Onferno. As Safarik pointed out, the features of Fetti’s actor perfectly match those of Francesco Andreini in a engraving by Abraham Tummermann, which was first published in Andreini’s Le Bravure del Capitano Spavento (Venice: Giacomo Antonio Somasco, 1609). Safarik recognized the same features in the so-called portrait of ‘Tyrant Calvaca’ from the Lucien Bonaparte collection, which he knew thanks to a Giraudon photograph (Paris, G 16688-9), taken when the painting belonged to the Carvalho collection at Villandry. The theatrical gesture of the sitter in this full-length portrait makes perfect sense for an actor.
Francesco Andreini, (ca. 1544 – 1624), born in Pistoia in the mid 1540’s, married the famous actress and poet Isabella Canali around 1575. Together they founded a commedia dell’arte troupe known as the Compagnia dei Gelosi. The Gelosi reached great acclaim in 1589 at the festivities for the wedding of Ferdinando I de’ Medici and Christine de Lorraine and, over the years, gained the patronage of the courts of Mantua and Paris as well. A frescoed lunette in the cloister of the Florentine convent of the Santissima Annunziata gives us a measure of the Andreini’s status in Florence: Francesco, Isabella and their son Giovanni Battista appear in prominent positions in this frescoed depiction of The Servite Sostegno at the court of France, painted by Bernardino Barbatelli, known as il Poccetti, for the Usimbardi family. Francesco retired as an actor in 1604, after Isabella’s sudden death, and dedicated his energies to publishing first his wife’s and then his own works. He settled in Mantua, where he was granted citizenship in 1607 and died on August 20, 1624 (for further biographical information on Francesco Andreini, see F. Angelini Frajese in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Rome 1969-[...], vol. 3, 1961, pp. 132-133; S. Ferrone (ed.), Comici dell’Arte. Corrispondenze G.B. Andreini, N. Barbieri, P. M. Cecchini, S. Fiorillo, T. Martinelli, F. Scala, Florence 1993, vol. I, pp. 97-98, note 97; S. Mazzoni 1996 (cited above), pp. 107-121; S. Ferrone 1996 (cited above), pp. 51-53; A. MacNeil, Music and Women of the Commedia dell’Arte in the Late Sixteenth Century, Oxford, 2003, pp. 46-50).
All of the Bonaparte collection and sale catalogues attributed this portrait to the famous painter from Urbino, Federico Barocci. Harald Olsen dismissed this attribution as quite “unlikely” in his 1962 monograph, judging simply from the etched reproduction of the portrait, which he listed among Barocci’s lost works. The portrait had in fact resurfaced in the meantime with an equally improbable attribution to Diego Velázquez: it was exhibited as a portrait of the Marquis Spinola by Velázquez at the Hôtel Jean Charpentier in 1925, when it belonged to the collection of Joaquim Carvalho in the Château de Villandry, and was sold at auction with the same attribution in 1953. Eduard Safarik proposed a tentative attribution to Giusto Suttermans, the Flemish portraitist of the Medici court in Florence, which was repeated in the catalogue of the 1996 Fetti exhibition and in 2006 by Francesco Petrucci. Roberta Bartoli’s catalogue of the works once in the Bonaparte gallery (1995), prudently attributed this portrait to an unspecified Florentine painter close to Jacopo da Empoli. In 2000 Mina Gregori proposed the names of the Florentine portraitists Domenico and Valore Casini, who were born respectively in 1588 and 1590 and both died in 1660.
The Casini brothers are mentioned only briefly in Filippo Baldinucci’s Notizie de’ professori del disegno [...] (1681-1728, edited by F. Ranalli, 1845-1847, vol. III, 1846, pp. 450-451) as pupils of Domenico Cresti known as il Passignano. Baldinucci singles out Valore for praise as a “uomo di valore”, literally a man of value, capable of painting candid, close resemblances. Since Baldinucci indicates that Domenico only painted the sitter’s clothing, it is clear that he played a secondary role in the artistic partnership with his younger brother. The portrait of Francesco Andreini is of notably better quality than much of the work produced by the Casini brothers, a consideration that at first glance might raise questions about the attribution (see Goldenberg Stoppato, 2004). However, after careful consideration, one can find comparable, excellent brushwork in the few portraits that Valore Casini painted by himself, without Domenico’s help. A good example is the portrait of Niccolò Pesciolini (1535-1619), once in the Nomi-Pesciolini collection in San Gimignano, which bears an old inscription with Valore’s name on the back of the canvas (Goldenberg Stoppato, 2004, pp. 167-168, 197, note 35, fig. 3). In both cases one notes under the flesh tones the same, dark underpainting, a technique he may well have learned from Passignano.
The portrait of Francesco Andreini can also be compared to an extremely interesting canvas that portrays a ball player, a work recently rediscovered in storage in Palazzo Pitti (1890 Inv. no. 5292, kindly called to my attention as a possible Suttermans by Dr. Fausta Navarro). This canvas matches perfectly with the description of a portrait of “Mochone maestro di palla a corda, alto 3 ½, largo 2 ½” listed without an attribution in a palace register in 1638. The same full-length portrait appears in the Casini brother’s accounting book: this manuscript mentions a “ritrato di Mochone intero” delivered to Grand Duke Cosimo II on September 16, 1619.
The full-length portrait of Francesco Andreini was probably painted by Valore Casini a few years later. Eduard Safarik dates his portrait by Domenico Fetti in the Hermitage before June 1620, when Andreini left Mantua and traveled to Milan and France with his son Giovan Battista’s Compagnia de’ Fedeli. Though the troupe returned to Italy for a few months in 1622, Andreini seems to have made his definitive return to Mantua in April 1623, well after Fetti left for Venice for the last time (see S. Ferrone, 1996, p. 58, note 4). Since Francesco Andreini appears to be several years older in the portrait by Valore Casini, it must have been painted fairly close to the date of the actor’s death, possibly, if the actor travelled by ship from Marseilles to Livorno, during a stop in Florence on his trip back to Mantua.
Lisa Goldenberg Stoppato