Finarte /May 28, 2009
€10,000.00 - €12,000.00
Artworks in Arcadja6
Some works of Giovanni Bernardo LamaExtracted between 6 works in the catalog of Arcadja
Auction: Sotheby's -Jan 29, 2009 - New YorkLot number: 142
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
CATALOGUE NOTE Despite an active career for both private patrons and for various important Neapolitan churches, Giovan Bernardo Lama has remained a somewhat elusive figure, and has only begun to emerge as an artistic personality in the last twenty years.1 Early sources seem to have been somewhat confused or misinformed about the particulars of his life; de' Dominci for example suggests that he was born in about 1508, but a signed and dated painting in the Collegiata di Solofra of 1598 would suggest a much later date of birth for the artist. Lanzi as well considered him to have been early enough to have been a pupil of Polidoro da Caravaggio, which would be highly unlikely.2 Rather, an altarpiece of the Crucifixion painted for the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Caponapoli which can be dated to 1558, would appear to be Lama's artistic "debut".3 A birth date of about 1535 for Lama would therefore seem likely. The artist appears to have been most active and successful from the 1570s onwards, at a time when a number of Flemish artists had moved to Naples, whose influence is visible in his work. Perhaps his greatest rival, however, was the Sienese painter Marco Pino, with whom it appears he was sometimes contrasted, much as the maniera of Raphael was to that of Michelangelo decades before. In a letter addressed to Lama from Giulio Cesare Capaccio (the Neapolitan writer and poet), the two painters were specifically compared, particularly their use of color: "So che l'avete con M. Marco da Siena, perchè voi fate la pittura piu vaga, ed egli si attacca a que' membroni senza sfumare il colore: non so che ne vogliate; lasciatelo servire a suo modo, e voi servitevi al vostro."4 Although a painter of grand public works, this beautifully preserved and colored Madonna and Child is typical of Lama's more intimate private production. In fact, it relates closely to a group of panels which Leone de Castris has generally dated to late in the artist's career, from the late 1580s and 1590s.5 The figure of the Madonna in these paintings appear to be a loose redaction of that in one of his most famous compositions, the Deposition in the church of SS. Severino e Sossio, Naples (1580s) which the artist reinterpreted for private use. In some cases this was as a Pietà (for example, that in the collection of the Musée du Louvre, Paris, or a more elaborate one in an American private collection, sold in these rooms, January 25, 2001, lot 73). However, Lama also used the rather tender interpretation, although in a more happy tone, for a number of depictions of the Madonna and Child. This picture, in fact, relates quite closely to this group, including an example in the Musei Vaticani and even more closely to one in a private collection, Naples, where the background and the elaborately decorated tunic of the Infant Christ are almost exactly the same, with small differences. We are grateful to Dr. Pierluigi Leone de Castris for confirming the attribution of the present work to Lama on the basis of photographs. 1. See the writings of Pierluigi Leone de Castris (Pittura del Cinquecento a Napoli 1540-1573, Naples 1996, pp. 237 passim; et alia), as well as Andrea Zezza (cf. "Giovan Bernardo Lama: ipotesi per un percorso." in Bollettino d'arte, 1991, 80, pp. 1-30). 2. cf. L. Lanzi, Storia pittorica della Italia, Milan 1823, vol, II, p.332; Polidoro's short sojourn in Naples in 1527/28 was highly influential, but he had moved to Messina in the latter year and died there circa 1543. While Polidoro's influence can be seen in some of Lama's work, these dates would appear to preclude anything more than a stylistic relationship. Rather, as Zezza suggests, it seems much more likely that Lama was trained by his father Matteo (doc. 1540-57), a painter to whom no works may be attributed today. 3. cf. P. Leone de Castris, op. cit., p. 250. 4. "[ trans: I know that you spite Marco da Siena because you paint more delightfully, while he is so hooked on robust proportion without softening the color (i.e.sfumato): don't be bothered, let him paint the way he wants and you keep on painting the way you want.]." 5. cf. P. Leone de Castris, op. cit., p. 260, for illustrations of the discussed works, see p. 268.