Gallery

Gallery: 
Pietro della Vecchia, 1603 - 1678
Portrait of a Venetian Merchant wearing an Ermine-lined Coat
Portrait of a Venetian Merchant wearing an Ermine-
oil on oak panel
48.26 x 35.56 cm. (19 x 14in.)
Price: 
£3500

Artist biography

Pietro della Vecchia (1603 – 8 September 1678) was an Italian painter also known as Pietro Muttoni. Born in Vicenza (Venice), he likely trained with Alessandro Varotari, called Padovanino, deriving a notable interest in Venetian masters such as Titian and Giorgione.

Until 1984, he was mistakenly referred to as Pietro Muttoni. This misnomer is attributed to Italian art historian and archaeologist, Luigi Lanzi (June 14, 1732 – 30 March 1810), who in his Storia pittorica della Italia confused the name of the artist with the name of a collection, Muttoni, in which he had seen one of his paintings.

In fact, Pietro was from the well known Venetian family, the della Vecchia. Renowned among his contemporaries for his ability to imitate the styles of 16th-century masters, he was also known for his grotesque paintings and portraiture. His earliest known works, two representations of St Francis, which have survived in many versions (e.g. Modena, Gal. Estense; Rovigo, Accad. Concordi), and a Crucifixion (1633; Venice, S Lio) are so heavily influenced by Carlo Saraceni and his student and collaborator Jean Leclerc as to suggest that della Vecchia trained with them. Certain Caravaggesque elements, which remained in his work for some time to come, suggest that he spent some time in Rome after Leclerc had left Venice, in 1621 or 1622. The influence of Alessandro Varotari or Padovanino, who is described by sources (e.g. Orlandini) as della Vecchia's teacher, is only noticeable in dated works from 1635 onwards. Della Vecchia probably worked in Padovanino's studio c. 1625-6, after his trip to Rome, and from the latter he derived his great interest in 16th-century painting in Venice and the Veneto. His monumental Crucifixion (1637; Venice, Fond. Cini), in which the composition harks back to the 16th century while the figures derive from Caravaggio, is characteristic of this phase. Around 1640 the influence of Bernardo Strozzi is apparent in his work, as in the Angel Offering a Skull to St Giustina, who stands between St Joseph and St John (1640; Venice, Accad.), painted for the church of S Giustina. In 1640 he began to design cartoons for the mosaics in S Marco, on which he worked until 1673. From 1640 to 1673 he was commissioned from the Venetian Republic for the design of the mosaic cartoons for the St. Mark's Basilica. He painted four idyllic landscapes that presage some of the Rococo content (now in Pinacoteca Querini-Stampalia). He married Clorinda Renieri, daughter of Nicolas Régnier, Flemish painter and art dealer. Della Vecchia died in Venice, September 1678.