Guercino, not Crespi

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In the National Museum of Art of Romania (Muzeul Nafional de Artd al Ronidniei), Bucharest, there is a large painting (263x184 cm) of Saint Benedict and Saint Francis; they appear in the lower foreground, reacting in different ways to the violin being played by an angel on a cloud above them (FIG. 3). Currently labeled as being by the Bolognese painter Giuseppe Maria Crespi, known as Lo Spagnolo (1665-1747), this painting should, by rights, be attributed to Guercino (1591-1666). Before entering the royal collection of Carol I, king of Romania, in 1879, the painting was part of the Felix Bamberg collection. It entered the Romanian Royal Collection as a Guercino and remained there until it was sent to France for restoration, together with five other paintings that had been damaged during the 1989 Romanian revolution.' In 1995, soon after its return to Bucharest, a special exhibition was organized by the Romanians with the help of the French Embassy and the Seivice de Restauration des Mus6es de France. In the pamphlet accompanying this special exhibition, it was suggested that the attribution of the Bucharest painting be changed to Crespi; 2 the only version considered to be a real, authentic Guercino was the one remaining in the Louvre (FIG. 4). According to the pamphlet, this attribution to Crespi was suggested by Michel Laclotte, the director of the Louvre and the former curator of its painting department. The painting was X-rayed without any definitive results, but Laclotte based his assumption regarding the Crespi authorship on a stylistic comparison. Laclotte stressed that Crespi, like Guercino before him, had used the same tonality and the same dark palette; 3 but he proposed that the painting was a Crespi because its execution seemed less free in the use of brushstrokes when it came to the ochre paint; and with regard to the yellow and the blue the Bucharest painting, he contended, did not have the vigour of the Louvre painting. 4 Laclotte's opinion was supported by St6phane Loire, the curator of the Louvre's painting department and a well-known Guercino specialist, who said that the painting is oune copie ancienne et trýs exacte de la version du Louvre.W 5
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalStoria dell'arte
StatePublished - Jan 2008


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