Jean - Luc Baroni Ltd

Bernardo Strozzi A Young Man


Bernardo Strozzi

Genoa 1581-1644



A Young Man posed as Salvator Mundi


Oil on canvas. Bears label on the back of the old stretcher inscribed: Cambiaso.

60 x 43 cms. (23 ½ x 17 in.)

Provenance: Palazzo Cambiaso, Strada Nuova, Genoa (nella Sala …. A queste di capace misura s’accompagnano o picciole tavole o tele: …due teste di N. D e del Redentore del Capuccino’ from the description of the Palazzo of Marchese Cesare Cambiaso, Strada Nuova, Genoa.

Literature: Federigo Alizeri, Guida Illustrativa de Cittadino e del Forastiero per la Citta di Genova,Genoa 1875, p.211; C. Manzitti, Bernardo Strozzi, Turin 2013, p.93, cat.46.

In this glowing and unusually naturalistic depiction of Christ, Salvator Mundi, Strozzi has painted a portrait of a refined looking young man, seemingly dressed in contemporary clothes, posed in the traditionally iconographic manner with his hand resting on an orb surmounted with a cross. The picture was originally a pendant with a similarly elegant depiction of the Virgin Mary, her hands raised in prayer, which shares the same measurements and provenance and is believed to date from around1618. In the freedom and softness with which it is painted, the informal, contemporary dress worn by the model and the elegant hands, this young Christ may also be compared to Strozzi’s Virgin Feeding the Christ Child in the Musée des Beaux Arts, Châlon-sur-Sâone which is dated to 1622-23.

Strozzi at this time was still working in Genoa, then an immensely rich banking city with a sophisticated artistic life in which a variety of styles flourished, from Tuscan Mannerism, which Strozzi had absorbed through his master Pietro Sorri and from his contemporary, the well-travelled Giovanni Battista Paggi, to Milanese drama and light and shade as practised by Morazzone and Giulio Cesare Procaccini both of whose works were well known in Genoa. Strozzi had become a Capuchin monk by the age of 17 but moved back home to support his widowed mother and sister in around 1608. His work was rapidly in demand from the powerful banking art patrons who competed to fill their palaces along the Strada Nuova with works of art. A few years later, he had fallen out with the Capuchin order, objections may have been made to his secular paintings and he was imprisoned for more than a year; by 1632 he had moved to Venice where he achieved further success as an innovative fresco, portrait and still life painter.

The present work clearly shows a Mannerist elegance and refinement, inspired perhaps by Procaccini but also by earlier prototypes such as Barocci and even Parmigianino whose work Strozzi must have known through prints if not by paintings. After around 1620, Strozzi’s work became more naturalistic and powerful as he absorbed the lessons of Caravaggism bought to Genoa by Domenico Fiasella who had visited Rome, by followers of Caravaggio who came to the city looking for work and by the works themselves of Caravaggio, Ribera and Caracciolo which were purchased by local patrons.

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