Rodriguez Alonzo, John the Baptist in Meditation

1,615 - 1,620; oil on canvas
cm. 162 x 132

Inventory: AF01167AFC
Provenance: antique market

The painting was purchased for the Cariplo Collection in 1979. Nothing is known about its previous history.

The 1995 catalogue of the Marina Mojana Collection attributed the work to Bernardo Cavallino on the basis of similarities with his depictions of Saint Lawrence (Museo Lazaro Galdiano, Madrid) and the Meeting of Joachim and Anne (Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, Budapest) but also saw connections with the work of Alonso Rodriguez, a Spanish artist active in southern Italy in the early decades of the 17th century.

The description subsequently written by Andrea Spiriti for the catalogue of the earlier section of the Cariplo Collection suggests that Rodriguez himself may have painted the work on, the basis of stylistic similarities with others dating from his period in Messina. The Neapolitan origin of the canvas is unquestionable. Similarities with the work of Cavallino and Battistello, but also minor artists like Carlo Sellitto (David with the Head of Goliath, Harare, National Gallery) and Francesco Vitale (Saint Sebastian, Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland) emerge clearly to highlight a common artistic vocabulary that may indeed have been forged by Alonso Rodriguez, whose role in spreading stylistic models calls for further study, especially as regards relations with Zurbarán. (See, for example, his Vision of Saint Anthony of Padua in the Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University.)

The attribution of the work to Rodriguez is therefore accepted together with a dating around 1615–1620. The John the Baptist from a private collection published by Fernando Bologna in 1991, which strongly resembles the depiction of the same figure in the Cariplo Collection, should also belong to the same period. A further point of interest is the somewhat uncommon iconographic presentation of the saint in the act of filling a shell with water from a source outside the scene, a clear reference to his baptismal mission.

Sources:Archivio Banca Intesa Sanpaolo, cart. 26, not found


Marina Mojana, Pittore caravaggesco (Bernardo Cavallino?) San Giovanni Battista alla sorgente, in Tesori d’arte delle banche lombarde, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Milano, 1995, n. 157, p. 96, ill.;
Andrea Spiriti, Scuola Napoletana, S. Giovanni Battista in meditazione, in Maria Luisa Gatti Perer, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. Dal Classico al Neoclassico, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1998, n. 87, pp. 194-195, ill..

Domenico Sedini
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