List of Artworks

Research Notes: Part 1, no. 12, Folio 2 verso

Identified
Valentin de Boulogne, Denial of Saint Peter (ca. 1618-25)
Fig. I, 12, a
Valentin de Boulogne (French, 1591–1632)
Title: Denial of Saint Peter, Rinnegamento di San Pietro
Date: ca. 1618–25
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 172 x 241 cm (67 3/4 x 94 7/8 in.)
Current location: Florence, Collezione Longhi
Image Source:
Nicola Ivanoff, Valentin de Boulogne (Milan: Fratelli Fabbri, 1966), pl. II
Provenance

Giovan Battista Mellini (inventory, 1627); Pietro and Savo Mellini (inventory, 1680; poem, 1681); Cardinal Mario Mellini IV (inventories, 1732 and 1738); Fondazione Longhi (bought in the 1960s by Roberto Longhi from the collector Zecchini).

The exact correspondence between the description in the 1680 Mellini inventory and Pietro’s poem of 1681, and the fact that the measurements indicated in these two documents are the same as those of the work currently in the Fondazione Longhi, indicates that this is the same work (fig. I, 12, a). This painting is described in the 1627 postmortem inventory of Giovan Battista Mellini in this way: “un quadro lungo dieci palmi incirca dove S. Pietro si scaldava” (“a painting about ten palms long where St. Peter was warming himself”).1 Fausto Nicolai has also given solid reasons for the identification of this painting, such as the relationship of Giovan Battista Mellini to the group of French painters who were followers of Caravaggio, and his personal relationship with the painter Simon Vouet.2 Another element pointed out by Nicolai is the inclusion, in the lower portion of the painting, of an antique sarcophagus, which could very well have belonged to the Mellini family’s famous collection of antiquities. According to Nicolai, the fact that the painting dates from the end of the 1620s could be an indication that it was personally commissioned by Giovan Battista Mellini.

This painting came from the group of Caravaggesque works that were part of the collection assembled by Giovan Battista Mellini in the 1620s, and it remained in the Mellini estate until the middle of the eighteenth century. It is not mentioned in the postmortem inventory of Savo Mellini (1701) but is described in the inventories of Cardinal Mario Mellini IV dated 1732 and 1738: “Altro di p[al]mi 10 e 7: rapp[resentan]te la Negazione di San Pietro all’Ancilla con vari soldati che giocano p[er] traverso mezze figure con cornice a cassa dorata” (“Another picture, 10 by 7 palms: depicting the Denial of Saint Peter to the Servant Girl, with several soldiers gambling; half figures in a gilded box frame”).3,4,5

Footnotes

  • 1. Fausto Nicolai, “Le ‘molte pitture moderne buone’ nella raccolta di Giovan Battista Mellini (1591–1627),” Rivista d’arte, ser. 5, vol. 2 (2012): 217–35. See “Appendice” on pages 231–34 for the transcription of “Inventario dei quadri lasciati in eredità da Giovan Battista Mellini allo zio cardinale Giovanni Garzi,” in Archivio di Stato di Roma, Rome, 30 Notai Capitolini, uff. 31, vol. 118, ff. 774–90, 11 ago.1627, 233.
  • 2. Nicolai, “Le ‘molte pitture moderne buone,’” 217–35.
  • 3. The postmortem inventory of Savo Mellini from 1701 can be found in the Getty Provenance Index.
  • 4. Archivio Serlupi Crescenzi, Rome, Inventario dei mobili di Mon Mario Mellini, vol. 84, 1738, fol. 10.
  • 5. Archivio Serlupi Crescenzi, Rome, “Nota de quadri esistenti nelle camere di Mons.re Mario Millini,” 1732 in Scritture diverse della Casa Mellini dal 1522 al 1743, vol. 17, fols. 407–26.

References

Melasecchi, Olga. “Valentin de Boulogne.” In Alessandro Zuccari, ed., I Caravaggeschi / The Caravaggesque Painters: A Catalogue of the Artists and Works, 733–41. Milan: Skira, 2010.

Mojana, Marina. Valentin de Boulogne. Milan: Eikonos, 1989.

Nicolai, Fausto. Mecenati a confronto: Committenza, collezionismo e mercato dell’arte nella Roma del primo Seicento: Le famiglie Massimo, Altemps, Naro e Colonna. Rome: Campisano, 2008.

Nicolai, Fausto. “La committenza del Cardinale Giovanni Garzia Mellini a Roma: Giovanni da San Giovanni, Agostino Tassi e Valentin de Boulogne.” Rivista dell’istituto nazionale d’archeologia e storia dell’arte 27, no. 59 (2004, published 2010): 199–205.