caption

Unidentified Venetian painter, Fishermen and Others under the Sign of Diana

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)

Details

Country House
Mells Manor
Title(s)
Fishermen and Others under the Sign of Diana
Date
c.1540–50
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Overall height: 24 cm, Overall width: 115 cm
Artist
Unidentified Venetian painter
Catalogue Number
MM29

Description

This painting was probably one of a frieze of paintings of similar format, not necessarily by the same painter, depicting various activities connected with provisioning. It might have been accompanied by representations of harvesting, sowing, perhaps hunting, and have formed part of a cycle representing the labours of the months. The activities take place under the control of Diana, seen at the top holding a crescent moon, seated in a chariot being pulled by two men who do not appear to be identifiable. This iconography is unusual, for Diana’s chariot would normally be pulled by deer, and it may be relevant to the painting’s meaning. Since Diana’s sign is Virgo, this picture might represent the activities of August–September, although it is not at all certain that, traditionally, fishing was associated with particular months. To date, no companions to the present painting are known.

There appears to be no justification for Berenson’s attribution to Andrea Schiavone. The style of the figures, solidly modelled, muscular and active, is similar to that of Paris Bordone, although the colouring and handling is not particularly related to him. There seems also to be some reminiscence of Pordenone in the figure types, although this may be no more than a question of distant influence. Professor Peter Humfrey, who was consulted in the course of compiling this entry, considers that the picture is more likely to have originated in the circle of Bonifacio Pitati and suggests comparing it with a painting in Berlin that he believes to by Bonifacio, and to a set of the Labours of the Months in the National Gallery, London (NG3109–10), catalogued as Style of Bonifacio.1 Numerous compositions of similar type, the relics of long-dismantled schemes of interior decoration, are to be found in museums, private collections and in circulation on the market and that they all too often prove difficult to attach to names.

Graham exhibited the painting at the winter exhibition of Old Master at Royal Academy in 1885 as ‘Diana and the Fishermen’, by an unknown artist.2

by Paul Joannides

Bibliography

Exhibition of Italian Art from the 13th to the 17th Century, Birmingham : City Museum and Art Gallery, 1955, no. 9


Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: The Venetian School, 2 vols, London : Phaidon, 1957, vol. 1, p. 160, as Andrea Schiavone; Francis Richardson, Andrea Schiavone, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980, p. 144, not seen by Richardson


Oliver Garnett, 'The Letters and Collection of William Graham: Pre-Raphaelite Patron and Pre-Raphael Collector', The Walpole Society, vol. 62, 2000, d53, p. 309, attributed to Paris Bordone, previously attributed to the School of Ferrara (WG inventory 491: £20/sale 415 bought Agnew [3929] 20 guineas)


Footnotes

  1. Professor Peter Humfrey, private communication, 2020; Christopher Baker and Tom Henry, The National Gallery Complete Illustrated Catalogue, London: National Gallery Publications, 1995, p. 48.

    1
  2. Exhibition of Works by The Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School: Winter Exhibition, sixteenth year. MDCCCLXXXV, London: Wm. Clowes and Sons, 1885, no. 205, p. 44.

    2

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