Attributed to Juan Bautista Maino
Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1611
Frederick Mont, New York, 1946. Private collection, London, 1952. Piero Corsini, New York, 1989; Scardeoni, Lugano; private collection, Switzerland; Koelliker collection, Milan.
Roberto Longhi, “Caravaggio en de Nederlanden” Paragone 33 (1952), p. 53, fig. 24.
Didier Bodart, Louis Finson: (Bruges, avant 1580–Amsterdam, 1617), Brussels, 1970, pp. 142–43. Benedict Nicolson, The International Caravaggesque Movement, Oxford, 1979, p. 48.
Viterbo segreta: opere e oggetti d'arte di collezioni private dal XIII al XIX secolo, exh. cat. Palazzo dei Priori, Viterbo, 1983, pp. 14–15.
Robert B. Simon, ed., Important Old Master Paintings. Devotion and Delight, exh. cat. Piero Corsini, New York, 1989, pp. 20–23.
Gianni Papi, Cecco del Caravaggio, Florence, 1992, pp. 15–16.
Gianni Papi, “Proposte per Juan Bautista Maino” Studi di storia dell’arte 3 (1992), pp. 185–86, 196, fig. 10.
Gianni Papi, Cecco del Caravaggio, Soncino, 2001, p. 25.
Gianni Papi, French, Dutch, and Flemish Caravaggesque Paintings, exh. cat. Robilant+Voena, London, 2005–6, pp. 50–53.
Gianni Papi, Il genio degli anonimi. Maestri caravaggeschi a Roma e a Napoli, exh. cat. Palazzo Reale, Milan, 2005–6, pp. 105–19.
Gianni Papi, La “schola” del Caravaggio. Dipinti dalla Collezione Koelliker, exh. cat. Palazzo Chigi, Ariccia, 2006–7, pp. 68–71.
Sergio Benedetti, “The “schola” del Caravaggio: Ariccia” Burlington Magazine 149 (2007), p. 128, fig. 59.
New York, Piero Corsini, Important Old Master Paintings. Devotion and Delight, 3 November–1 December 1989
London, Robilant+Voena, French, Dutch, and Flemish Caravaggesque Paintings, 2005
Milan, Palazzo Reale, Il genio degli anonimi. Maestri caravaggeschi a Roma e a Napoli, 15 October 2005–6 February 2006
Ariccia, Palazzo Chigi, La “schola” del Caravaggio. Dipinti dalla Collezione Koelliker, 13 October 2006–11 February 2007
The subject of this painting derives from the New Testament (Matthew 14: 1–11), which recounts how King Herod, captivated by the dancing of his stepdaughter, Salome, offered her any reward. At the urging of her mother, Herodias, Salome requested the head of John the Baptist, who had criticised her mother’s marriage. Dramatically presented standing against a dark background, Salome holds out the platter as if presenting it to the beholder. She is depicted as an elegant and luxuriously dressed young lady: the artist emphasised the richness and refinement of her attire, from the lavish and complicated folds of jewel-toned and brocaded silks to the delicate pearl earrings and blue headband fringed with gold. While the artist’s depiction draws attention to Salome’s lavish costume and elegant manner, he also captures her melancholy distraction in her troubled visage, and the tentative way in which she holds the plater, as she appears unable to come to terms with the evidence of her own role in this brutal murder.
The painting was first published in 1952 by Roberto Longhi with an attribution to Louis Finson; in 1979, Benedict Nicolson placed it more tentatively in the “circle of Finson,” together with the Madonna of the Rosary assigned to Cavarozzi (Christie’s, London, 29 March 1974). In 1989, when the painting was at the New York gallery of Piero Corsini, it was presented with a conjectural attribution to Cecco di Caravaggio. Subsequently it passed to the dealer Scardeoni in Lugano, from there to a private Swiss collection, and finally into the Koelliker collection. More recently, Gianni Papi has attributed the work to Cecco di Caravaggio, and more recently and most convincingly, to the Spanish painter Juan Bautista Maino.
Maino was born at the small court of the Prince of Eboli to a Milanese father and a Portuguese mother. He went to Italy, likely departing before the end of the sixteenth century, and spent several years there. In Rome he was in contact with Annibale Carracci and Guido Reni and became familiar with the work of Caravaggio, which influenced him deeply. Given his father’s Milanese origin, he probably also had contact with artists in Brescia, Cremona, and Milan. By 1611 Maino had returned to Spain and was working in Toledo Cathedral. In January 1612 he was commissioned to paint the retable and the frescoes on the lower part of the choir and the presbytery of the Dominican convent of San Pedro Mártir, Toledo, and before the work was complete, he took religious orders there on 27 July 1614. The paintings for the retable reveal his mature and personal style. They are the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Adoration of the Magi, the Resurrection, and the Pentecost (1611, all Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid). The strong affinity with Caravaggio is seen in the Adoration of the Shepherds, in which the angels, depicted as ordinary street urchins, derive directly from the Lombard painter. Maino interpreted his study of the Roman art of Caravaggio in the manner of Orazio Gentileschi, showing a preference for light, intense colours, tight sculptural modelling, and precise, incisive drawing that is revealed in the naturalistic details. In the predella paintings from the same altarpiece, Saint John the Baptist in a Landscape and Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos (both Prado, Madrid), Maino’s debt to the Roman landscapes of Carracci, as well as the influence of Agostino Tassi and Adam Elsheimer, are seen in the scale and in the relationship between figures and landscape. This type of landscape painting, with its silver colouring, was new in Spain; it shows the method of Carlo Saraceni or of Gentileschi and can also be compared with the work of Netherlandish artists then in Rome. The fresco paintings at San Pedro Mártir are reminiscent of the early work of Guido Reni in terms of composition, use of colour, forms and figure types. Papi places the present painting seems around the same time as this significant commission, comparing the vivid colours of Salome’s costume to that of the textiles found in these works, the twisting and folding of those draperies with those of the angels hovering in the air in the Adoration of the Shepherds, and the face of Salome with the female facial types in the Prado works.
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