Getty Acquires Painting by Bartolomeo Manfredi

Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Getty Acquires Painting by Bartolomeo Manfredi

The J. Paul Getty Museum has acquired from a private collector A Drinking and Musical Party, a lively 17th-century genre painting by Italian artist Bartolomeo Manfredi.

The painting depicts a group of seven young men gathered around a table to eat, drink, and play music. An elegantly dressed man on the bottom left plays a lute, entertaining the group as they enjoy wine. While largely a merrymaking scene, Manfredi adds suspense with two servants in the background who appear to be shocking onlookers as they steal bread and wine, while the servant on the right fills the glass of a bearded man whose sword is exposed. Even the knife on the table is menacingly pointed towards the viewer. These elements seem to imply the scene could turn into a heated brawl at any given moment. Considered one of Manfredi’s greatest achievements, the painting is characterized by a sumptuous palette and stark contrasts of light and shade.

Trained in northern Italy, Manfredi later moved to Rome where he discovered the work of Italian painter Caravaggio. He quickly became known as Carravagio’s most devoted follower, a group known as “Caravaggisti” who incorporated the artist’s style in their art. Manfredi was so successful at emulating the artist’s style, particularly with his dramatic use of chiaroscuro, that decades after his death some of his paintings were confused with those of Caravaggio. A Drinking and Musical Party was attributed to Caravaggio until Manfredi was rediscovered in the 20th century by scholars and the artist gained a new appreciation.

Typically painted on large horizontal canvases with multiple figures at half-length, Manfredi explored new subjects like tavern scenes with soldiers playing cards, musicians playing instruments, merry drinkers, fortune tellers, and more. One of Manfredi’s early biographers, the German Joachim von Sandrart, labelled his new method of painting as the “Manfrediana methodus.” Intended for an open market of private collectors, his paintings were highly influential amongst foreign artists, particularly French, Dutch, and Flemish artists working in Rome at the time. This contributed to the widespread popularity of the Caravaggesque style across Europe.

“Although Manfredi was not properly a pupil of Caravaggio, his strikingly realistic depictions of genre scenes crucially contributed to the European success of the Caravaggesque movement,” says Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “Since its reappearance in 1976, A Drinking and Musical Party has been considered one of Manfredi’s greatest paintings. Its addition to our collection represents a major coup that will allow us to display a picture that attained enormous success among collectors and amateurs in 17th-century Europe.”


Stephanie Cime

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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