De Lione Andrea (?), King Solomon Worshipping Idols (?)
MD 0050.jpg

1,640 - 1,650; oil on canvas
cm. 99 x 126

Inventory: MD 0050
Provenance: Caterina Marcenaro Bequest

This canvas, restored and mounted on panel in 1965, appears to be in quite a good state of preservation. Caterina Marcenaro attributed the work to Poussin, however, Federico Zeri, after an examination carried out on 9 August 1976, wrote that it was likely by the Neapolitan painter Andrea De Lione. In fact, there are various similarities to his work (documents cited by R. Colace in Fondazione 1998, p. 261 and no longer traceable). Until a few decades ago the paintings that now make up the Andrea De Lione catalogue were thought to be by two different artists. Those that were more markedly French in style were supposed to be by a certain André, originally from Lyon, who was later confused, due to the Italianization of his name, with Andrea di Lione or Leone, documented in Naples during the first decades of the 17th century. When it was established that the artist was one and the same person, the difference in style was quite rightly explained by distinguishing the various periods of Andrea De Lione’s oeuvre. As a pupil of Aniello Falcone in Naples, Lione was influenced by the circle of French artists present in Rome and Naples. He interpreted and copied the works of Poussin and was later attracted by the exuberant innovations introduced into landscape painting by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione called Il Grechetto. He met him in Naples – where Il Grechetto is documented as actually being in Falcone’s workshop – between 1635 and 1639 and later frequented him both in Rome and Naples. It is in this period that Andrea De Lione achieved one of the most successful fusions of Poussin’s Classicism and Castiglione’s animated narrative style, in a busy scene of animals and precious objects, almost as though "he had stolen them from a Wunderkammer" to use Federico Zeri’s apt phrase (F. Zeri, ’Andrea de Lione e la natura morta’, in Scritti di Storia dell’Arte in onore di Raffaello Causa, P. Leone de Castris (ed.), Naples 1988, pp. 203–208, in particular p. 203). A fusion that is also evident in this canvas, where Poussin’s influence is clearly seen in the classical poses of the figures on the left of the composition and in the airy landscape. While the animated gestures of the women in the foreground, who are so typical of Andrea de Lione’s style, are reminiscent of Il Grechetto and can be compared, for example, with the female figures in the Prado version of Jacob’s Journey , probably executed in those same years. Similarly the purely decorative superabundance of drapery is also characteristic of Andrea De Lione’s style. The Museo Civico Ala Ponzone in Cremona holds a second version of the Milanese painting under examination here with very few variants. Unlike the painting in the Cariplo Collection, whose tones are muted by a yellowish patina that makes it difficult to interpret, the Cremona painting reveals the light brushwork and painstaking luministic effects that distinguish the work of this Neapolitan painter. In fact, a comparison with the painting from the Marcenaro Bequest makes it doubtful that this is definitely an autograph work.

As regards the iconography Zeri thought it might refer to the biblical episode (I Kings, 11) where King Solomon, led astray by some women, commits an act of idolatry. However, Pierluigi Carofano believes that it is a rare representation of the festival of Terminus, a deity introduced into the Roman Pantheon by the Sabine King Titus Tatius, as the guardian of the boundaries of property. At the end of every year animal sacrifices were made, and wreaths of flowers and offerings were laid near boundary stones.


This work is on display in the Museo Diocesano a Milano


Text taken from Stefano Bruzzese, ’Re Salomone adora gli idoli (?)’, in Paolo Biscottini, (ed.), Musei  e Gallerie di Milano. Museo Diocesano, Milan, Electa, 2011, no. 91, pp. 100–101, ill.


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


Raffaella Colace, Salomone adora gli idoli, 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. 132, pp. 261-263, ill..;
Stefano Bruzzese, Re Salomone adora gli idoli (?), in Paolo Biscottini, a cura di, Musei e Gallerie di Milano. Museo Diocesano, Electa, Milano, 2011, n. 91, pp. 100-101, ill.

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