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Prospero Mallerini

Italy XVIII-XIX Century - 
MALLERINI prospero Maddalena

Cambi
May 25, 2010
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Artworks in Arcadja
9

Some works of Prospero Mallerini

Extracted between 9 works in the catalog of Arcadja
Prospero Mallerini - A Trompe L'oeil Still Life Of A Portable Wooden Altar With A Rosary, A Hand Bell And Books Lying On The Ledge Beside

Prospero Mallerini - A Trompe L'oeil Still Life Of A Portable Wooden Altar With A Rosary, A Hand Bell And Books Lying On The Ledge Beside

Original
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Gross Price
Lot number: 187
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Description:
LOT 187

PROSPERO MALLERINI
ACTIVE IN ROME TOWARDS THE END OF THE 18TH AND DURING THE FIRST HALF OF THE 19TH CENTURY

A TROMPE L'OEIL STILL LIFE OF A PORTABLE WOODEN ALTAR WITH A ROSARY, A HAND BELL AND BOOKS LYING ON THE LEDGE BESIDE

30,000—40,000 GBP

DESCRIPTION

signed and dated lower left on the altar: P.Mallerini 1832.

oil on canvas

CATALOGUE NOTE
Prospero Mallerini was recorded as an architect and painter and although a document relating to his earliest known work, dated 1794, refers to him as "un pittore di Martinengo [Bergamo]" he seems to have been active predominantly in Rome.1 His career can be traced through a number of surviving signed and dated works, the last of which, prior to the discovery of the present work, was thought to be his 1829 altarpiece of San Giovanni Battista della Concezione in the church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome.2 The discovery of this still life is od further importance because whilst Mallerini often inserted naturalistic still life elements, such as an open book, into his religious altarpieces only one other 'pure' still life by the artist was previously known.3
Both the aforementioned New York still life and the present picture depict a trompe l'oeil space for personal devotion. The former depicts a makeshift cupboard of a private chapel with the curtain drawn back to reveal the contents and the present picture shows a portable altar and other assorted devotional apparatus including a rosary, a bell and some books. Whilst the ostensible subject matter of the painting is devotional the actual focus of both images seems to be Mallerini's virtuoso handling of the paint and his precise ability to depict naturalistic still life elements. The polished wood of the altar gleams in contrast to the paler matt wood of the planks behind, the pages of the books on the left are furled with age and usage and the rosary hangs from the olive branch with realistic weightiness.
1. L. Barroero, 'Prospero Mallerini: appunti per un pittore sconosciuto', in Prospettiva
, nos. 33-36, 1983-4, pp. 334-39. 2. Ibid. 3. Sold New York, Sotheby's, 25 January 2008, lot 201 for $85,000.
Prospero Mallerini - A Trompe L'oeil Vanitas Still Life With A Bronze Crucifix, A Bronze Statuette Of A Putto Holding An Unlit Candle, A Skull, An Open Book, An Aspersorium With An Olive Branch, And A Grisaille Of The Madonna

Prospero Mallerini - A Trompe L'oeil Vanitas Still Life With A Bronze Crucifix, A Bronze Statuette Of A Putto Holding An Unlit Candle, A Skull, An Open Book, An Aspersorium With An Olive Branch, And A Grisaille Of The Madonna

Original 1827
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Lot number: 201
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Description:
measurements note
39 1/2 by 29 1/2 in.; 100.4 by 75 cm.
DESCRIPTION
signed, dated and inscribed lower right on the base of the bronze statuette of a putto P. Mallerini f. 1827 / Romae
oil on canvas
CATALOGUE NOTE
Recorded as an architect as well as a painter, Prospero Mallerini remains an elusive figure. No biographical details about him are known; however a document relating to his earliest known work, the Portrait of a Capuchin monk, said to be Fra' Viatore of 1794 in the Museo Francescano, Rome, states that it was commissioned from 'un pittore di Martinengo,' a town in the province of Bergamo in Lombardy, suggesting that Mallerini was indeed from there.1 Despite this, Mallerini seems to have been active for most of his life in Rome and although an attempt has been made to trace his artistic development, his painted oeuvre remains rather small.2 Thankfully many of his paintings are signed and dated; the earliest 1794 and the latest 1829, just two years after the present work was painted. This picture is apparently unique for no other 'pure' still lifes by Mallerini are known, even though he was clearly interested in painting still life elements in a naturalistic way and often inserted them into his religious altarpieces.
Mallerini was patronized by the influential Barberini family in Rome, for in 1802 he signed and dated a Family portrait with don Carlo Barberini and in 1837 a sferisterio was built upon his designs in the Palazzo Barberini at the Quattro Fontane (a smaller version of the arena built at Macerata, intended for outdoor sports and musical events).3 The Family portrait mentioned above incorporates still life elements that are described with astonishing naturalism, and this seems to be characteristic of Mallerini's work. His altarpiece of San Giovanni Battista della Concezione painted for the Church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome, itself signed and dated 1829,4 includes numerous objects that find parallels in the present work: the vanitas still life elements of a skull and an open book in the foreground, and the trompe l'oeil engraving of the Madonna in the background, on which Mallerini signed and dated his altarpiece.
The objects in this trompe l'oeil painting are represented life-size and are shown in what appears to be a makeshift cupboard of a private chapel; the white drapery that acts as a curtain is drawn back casually to reveal what lies within. The wood-grain of the planks that act as a backdrop are remarkably realistic and Mallerini delights in painting the objects' contrasting textures: the polished surface and weight of the bronze crucifix contrast the softness of the white drapery, with its gentle folds and delicate green tassels. The lightness of the pages in the open book lower left contrast the solidity of the skull that weighs them down: this is also true of the vanitas still life elements in the foreground of the altarpiece in San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and in the Portrait of a Capuchin monk. The real subject of the latter is not the monk who is portrayed, but the woolen cloth he wears, the knotted cord around his waist, the inkwell and quill in the foreground, and the ivory crucifix behind him. Here there are no distractions: our attention is focused entirely on the objects Mallerini presents to us and the vanitas message is underlined not only by the presence of the skull but by the extinguished candle the bronze putto holds. The precision with which he describes each object suggests that they were painted from life: they may have been props in the artist's studio or, more likely, these objects belonged to a Roman family - such as the Barberini - and the painting is the result of a specific private commission. The bronze statuette of a putto is loosely based on a type by Roccatagliata whilst the bronze crucifix appears to be modelled on a Giambologna type, an example of which is in the convent of Santa Maria degli Angiolini, Florence.5
1. Museo Francescano, Rome, inv. 640/40; see L. Barroero, "Prospero Mallerini: appunti per un pittore sconosciuto," in Prospettiva, nos. 33-36, 1983-84, p. 339, footnote 7, reproduced p. 335, fig. 1. The portrait was painted in 1794, two years after Fra' Viatore's death. 2. See Barroero, op. cit., pp. 334-39. 3. For the portrait see A. Busiri Vici, "Un singolare gruppo di casa Barberini del 1802", in L'Urbe, vol. XXXIII, 1970, no. 3, pp. 1-8, figs. 1-14. 4. Reproduced in Barroero, ibid., p. 338, fig. 9. The date has been variously read as 1819 and 1821 but is actually 1829. 5. The Roccatagliata putto is datable to circa 1600 and the Giambologna to circa 1590. For the latter see C. Avery & A. Radcliffe eds., Giambologna 1529-1609, sculptor to the Medici, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Museum, August 19 - September 10, 1978; London, Victoria & Albert Museum, October 5 - November 16, 1978; and Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, December 2, 1978 - January 28, 1979, p. 143, cat. no. 105, reproduced.
Prospero Mallerini - La Vierge À L'enfant Avec Le Petit Saint Jean-baptiste

Prospero Mallerini - La Vierge À L'enfant Avec Le Petit Saint Jean-baptiste

Original
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Lot number: 9
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Prospero Mallerini - Trompe-l'œil Avec Un Bas-relief En Bronze Représentant L'annonciation

Prospero Mallerini - Trompe-l'œil Avec Un Bas-relief En Bronze Représentant L'annonciation

Original
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Lot number: 10
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Prospero Mallerini - Maddalena

Prospero Mallerini - Maddalena

Original
Estimate:

Price: Not disclosed
Lot number: 1283
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