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Autumn - The Four Seasons
(Jacopo Vignali)

Description

JACOPO VIGNALI
Pratovecchio (Arezzo) 1600 – 1660 Florence
Autumn
Oil on canvas, with Tuscan gilded cavetto frame
160 x 220 cm. (63 x 86.5 in.)
Vignali has based his personification of Autumn on one of Ripa’s soberer
suggestions for the subject. That is, instead of a revelling god of wine, he depicts a
gently dignified half-draped ‘man of perfect age’, handsome, bearded, and while not
in the first flush of youth, at the height of his vigour.94 Crowned with a wreath of
grapes and vine leaves, he bends to offer grapes to one of the children who play at his
feet. In his left arm he cradles a basket overflowing with several different varieties of
grapes, apples and chestnuts: an arrangement which almost anticipates the avalanchelike
compositions of Bartolomeo Bimbi. At Autumn’s feet, a still life extends across
the foreground that includes porcini mushrooms, cherries, apples of various types,
quinces, peaches, plums and a ripe, split pomegranate. Three other children or putti
play among the fruit. In the middle ground, two peasants cut vines, and in the
background there is, just visible, another figure gathering grapes.

A large red chalk drawing preparatory for Autumn (fig.xxx) was recently sold on the
New York art market. This drawing was sold as Matteo Rosselli, but had been
published previously with an attribution to Giovanni di San Giovanni, possibly based
92 The Accademia della Crusca was a literary society formed in reaction to the Accademia fiorentina in
which members sought separate the wheat of proper Italian from the chaff of bad Italian. Members
organized cruscate, playful meetings with trivial speeches and conversations, and often more serious
debates and readings. Lippi, Baldinucci and Cardinal Grand Duke Leopoldo’ de Medici, were all
members of the Accademia, Each Academician had his own pala, or wooden shovel which was painted
with a (bread-related) symbolic image, along with his nickname and his chosen motto. See D’Afflito,
Ibid, pp.286-287, nos. 112-113, illus.
93 “As for the still life sections, truly wonderful, it is challenging to think of a specialist by these years.
The fruits and mushrooms seem as beautiful as those by Filippo Napoletano, very naturalistic judging
by the photographs. Anyway, Lippi and in different terms, Cecco Bravo could be good in this field.” (R.
Contini, e-mail communication, 18 January, 2005.)
94 Ripa, op. cit., p. 475.
on a pen and ink inscription on the verso.95 However, the drawing is not by Rosselli
(whose contours and hatching is tighter), nor by Mannozzi (whose line is more
exuberant, but still contained within strongly re-enforced contours). Instead, the soft,
almost woolly planes of hatching in the drapery, the clear contours of hands and
melancholy short-hand of the facial features in the ex-Sotheby’s sheet are all typical
of red chalk studies by Vignali, such as two studies of a monk and a shepherd, both in
the Uffizi, and two other studies in Princeton, which were preparatory for Saint Paul
healing the afflicted.96
The figure of Autumn, with its sense of frontality and carefully modelled, if slightly
incorporeal anatomy is typical of Vignali. Moreover, the pose – gesturing to the left,
with the head turned in profile, and the torso kept frontal – appears to have been one
which he particularly favoured, because in several other large paintings, Vignali based
his composition around a very similar figure. He uses the same pose, but standing, in
Hagar and the Angel (1630)97, and in Ruggero finding Melissa and Leone (c. 1636)
which was in Cardinal Gian Carlo de Medici’s collection,98 and yet again, in Saint
Michael liberating the souls from purgatory (1637) painted for the Tonaquinci chapel
in SS Michele and Gaetano.99
The children at Autumn’s feet are characteristic of Vignali’s approach to infant
anatomy and similar figures appear in works throughout his career. In the altarpiece
Christ giving communion to Saint Clare of Montefalco (signed and dated 1629) in
Santo Spirito, Florence, putti with the same slightly lumpen flesh, stocky legs,
proportionally short arms, detailed feet and snub noses swarm above the head of
Christ and Saint Clare, while two others, one of which is very similar in pose (but for
the turn of the head) to the child reaching for the grapes in Autumn, prepare to weigh
the Saint’s soul.100 The standing child at the far left in Autumn, appears almost
identically in Madonna and Child in glory with Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Saint
Francis and other Saints, Vignali’s later altarpiece in Arezzo, which is signed and
dated 1653.101 The red-tinged shadows on the children, and particularly the blushing
cheeks of Autumn are a feature found in Vignali’s work, such as the early oil on
copper Calendimaggio (c. 1621) – a work very much indebted to Mannozzi – and a
more mature work, The Finding of Moses (1637).102

95 Sold at Sotheby’s New York, 27 January 1999, lot 97, as Matteo Rosselli, red chalk, 375 x 302 mm.
See also C. M. de Prybram-Gladona, Unbekannte Zeichnungen Alter Meister aus europäischen
Privatbesitz, Munich, 1969, p. 46, no. 62, illus. The attribution to Giovanni di San Giovanni came from
Herbert Voss.
96 Frankfurt, op. cit., nos. 90-91, illus.; and G. Pagliurulo, ‘Dipinti Fiorentini dl Seicento per la
Compagnia si San Paolo di Notte’, in Paragone, no. 471, 1989, p. 63, nos.60a and 60b., It should be
noted that on the basis of photographs, Edward L. Goldberg does not support an attribution to Vignali
for Autumn, nor for the related drawing, though he agrees that Autumn must be the product of a
Rossellian hand. (E. L. Goldberg, e-mail communication, 15 February, 2009.)
97 C. Del Bravo, ‘Per Jacopo Vignali’, in Paragone, 1960, p. 34.
98 See M. Gregori, Storia della Arti in Toscana, Il Seicento, Florence, 2001, p. 67-68, no. 4.
99 F. Mastropierro, Jacopo Vignali, Pittore nella Firenze del Seicento, Milan, 1973, p. 44, fig. 12.
100 Mastropierro, op. cit., p. 82, fig. 7; and Del Bravo, op. cit., p. 34.
101 Mastropierro, op. cit., pp. 65, fig. 18.
102 G. Pagliarulo, in Il Seicento Fiorentino: Arte a Firenze da Ferdinando I a Cosimo III, exhib. cat.,
Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 1987, vol. I, pp. 248-249, no. 117, illus; and pp. 252-254, no 120, illus. See
also, Mastropierro, ibid, no. 13, p. 69.
The genre scenes of the couple picking grapes and cutting vines in the middle
ground, and the man gathering grapes in the background were possibly inspired by
Salviati’s tapestry designs, as were Vignali’s own tapestry designs for Grand Duke
Ferdinando II. However, there are stronger parallels with Stradanus’s design for
Autumn, which Vignali may have known from Phillip Galle’s print.
Admittedly, there is no direct parallel in any of Vignali’s known work for the still life
of fruits and mushrooms in Autumn. But one has only to compare the arrangement of
seashells in the lower foreground of Chiron teaching archery to Achilles, while Thetis
watches (1635) to see Vignali’s evident skill as a still-life painter.103 Nevertheless, the
possibility should be considered the still life in Autumn was painted by the same hand
behind a large, possibly allegorical, composition exhibited at the Palazzo Strozzi in
1971 (fig). This picture, which Mina Gregori attributed to an artist working in or
around Vignali’s studio in the 1630s, depicts peaches, plums apples and
pomegranates, which are similar in both arrangement and form to those in Autumn.104


Measurements
160 x 220 cm. (63 x 86.5 in.)
Type
Oil on canvas
Provenance

Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Lyman Delano, “Steen Valetje”, Barrytown, New
York;
Sold from the estate of Mrs. Lyman Delano, at “Steen Valetje”: O. Rundle
Gilbert, 31 May – 3 June, 1967, where acquired by;
Ira Spanierman, New York
Gianelli Collection, Stabio, Switzerland
With Bruno Scardeoni, Lugano, by 1981
Private collection, Switzerland

Where is It?
Acquired through The Matthiesen Gallery by a private client
Historical Period
Baroque - 1600-1720
Subject
Landscape
School
Italian - Tuscan
Catalogue
Price band
Sold or not available