List of Artworks

Research Notes: Part 1, no. 39, Folio 5 recto

Possibly Identified
Scarsellino, Pluto and Persephone (ca. 1590)
Fig. I, 39, a
Scarsellino (Italian, ca. 1550–1620)
Title: Pluto and Persephone, Plutone e Proserpina
Date: ca. 1590
Medium: Oil on copper
Dimensions: 44 x 59.5 cm (17 3/8 x 23 1/2 in.)
Current location: Location unknown
Image Source:
Maria Angela Novelli, Scarsellino (Milan: Skira, 2008), 149 (cat. no. 122)

The subject, media, and dimensions of the work described in the Mellini inventories correspond to a painting whose whereabouts are unknown at present. It is listed (and illustrated) as cat. no. 233 in Maria Angela Novelli’s catalogue raisonné of this artist’s works (fig. I, 39, a).1 Its pendant, the painting of Venus and Adonis, also oil on copper and of the same size, belonged to the Mellini collection as well (fig. I, 43, a).

Scarsellino, Venus and Adonis (ca. 1590) Fig. I, 43, a
Scarsellino (ca. 1550–1620)
Venus and Adonis
ca. 1590
Oil on copper
44 x 59.5 cm (17 3/8 x 23 1/2 in.)
Location unknown
Maria Angela Novelli, Scarsellino (Milan: Skira, 2008), 244. See cat. no. 232.

This and the following work (fig. I, 39, a; fig. I, 43, a) form a pair that came from the estate of Giovan Battista Mellini. In his inventory of 1627, they are described as: “Un quadro, con ritratto di un homo et una donna ignudi in rame. Alto un palmo et mezzo” / “Un altro quadretto . . . con un Ratto di Proserpina alto un palmo incirca” (“A painting depicting a nude man and woman. A palm and a half high” / “Another small painting with a Rape of Persephone, about a palm high”).2 It seems significant that in this inventory, as well as in the documents of 1680 and 1681 that are the focus of the present publication, the two paintings are not related to each other. From the 1680 inventory, which unfolds in topographical order according to where the paintings were located in the Mellini home, we know that both pictures were located in the same room but were not hung together. Only in the 1738 inventory of the estate of Mario Mellini III, on folio 7, do the two paintings appear described as a pair: “Due altri di mezza testa grandi rapp[resentan]te: uno il rapto di proserpine e l’altro Adone e Venere per traverso con cor[ni]ce dorate antiche dipinte in rame” (“Two other paintings half a head across, one depicting the rape of Persephone and the other Adonis and Venus, with antique gilded frames, painted on copper”).3


  • 1. Maria Angela Novelli, Scarsellino (Milan: Skira, 2008), 244, 325. See cat. no. 233.
  • 2. 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, 231, 232.
  • 3. Archivio Serlupi Crescenzi, Rome, Inventario dei mobili di Mon Mario Mellini, vol. 84, 1738, fol. 7.


Novelli, Maria Angela. Scarsellino. Milan: Skira, 2008.