FRANCESCO FONTEBASSO (VENICE 1707-1769)
The Vision of Saint Jerome
oil on canvas, unlined, shaped top
123⁄8 x 91⁄4 in. (31.5 x 23.6 cm.)
Domenico Bossi (1767–1853), Munich, and by descent to his daughter,
Maria Theresa Caroline Bossi (1825-1881), and by descent to the following,
Gemälde-Sammlung Domenico Bossi; Hugo Helbing, Munich, 29 September 1917, lot 5, as 'Nicolo Bambini' (2700 DM).
Robert von Hirsch (1883-1977), Basel, and by inheritance to the following,
Private collection, Berlin, and by descent to the following,
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 9 December 2010, lot 211, where acquired by the following,
Private collection, UK.
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'Der Kunstmarkt', Der Cicerone, IX, 1917, pp. 325 and 390.
H. Voss, 'Francesco Fontebasso, ein Beitrag zur Malerei des venezianischen Rokoko', Jahrbuch für Kunstsammler, 1923, p. 27.
E. Martini, La pittura del settecento Veneto, Venice, 1981, p. 529.
M. Magrini, Francesco Fontebasso 1707-1769, Vicenza, 1988, p. 155, no. 99, fig. 35.
This picture, dated by Magrini (loc. cit.) to the 1740s, is thought to have belonged to a series of small canvases depicting scenes from the life of Saint Jerome. Other paintings likely to be part of this set are now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest (The Virgin appearing to Saint Jerome, inv. no. 666); the Louvre, Paris (The Virgin appearing to Saint Jerome, acc. no. MI 883); and private collections in London and Milan. The series was probably commissioned by a confraternity dedicated to the saint. Here, Jerome is depicted as an anchorite, interrupted in his study by a vision of the Virgin borne aloft by angels. Just behind him is the lion that is the saint’s traditional attribute.
Fontebasso was part of the rococo movement taking shape in Venice in the early eighteenth century, having trained under Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734). He can also be seen to have absorbed the influence of Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770), particularly in his lighter and more pastel palette. Fontebasso, who also practiced as an engraver, carried out commissions for prestigious patrons such as the Barbarigo family (Palazzo Duodo and Palazzo Barbarigo, Venice).