The Repose of the Huntsmen
(Giuseppe Bonito)


This is certainly the painting described by De Dominici [1] as ‘several young men carrying guns, and hunters enjoying themselves in the countryside and teasing some country girls for fun’. The painting was exhibited, together with a pendant The Painter’s Studio at the Feast of Corpus Christi held yearly in the Largo di Palazzo, Naples (now known as Piazza del Plebiscito).

Ferdinando Bologna published [2] a large sketch for The Painter’s Studio when it was on the Roman art market and, although the original works were then unknown, on the basis of De Dominici’s descriptions he also published a pair of copies of The Repose of the Huntsmen and The Painter’s Studio,[3] which significantly were also pendants.

De Dominici states that Bonito had also exhibited pairs of paintings previously on the occasion of Corpus Christi and The Repose of the Huntsmen accords perfectly with the style of these genre subjects. These had included The School Master and The Sewing Teacher (formerly Madrid, Remisa Collection and latterly London, Christie’s, 5th July 1996, lot 69) and a further pair representing A Concert and The Poet (recently reunited; New York, Didier Aaron Gallery, See Figs. 1 & 2).[4] De Dominici mistakenly records the latter pair of subjects as a single painting.

On the basis of De Dominici’s text it is hard to date The School Master and The Sewing Teacher later than 1736. Both paintings, in common with much of Bonito’s work of this period, show the strong influence of Solimena’s style of c. 1730. Following De Dominici, The Repose of the Huntsmen and The Poet, exhibited a year or so later, and which in any case show greater breadth of handling and the more intense chromatic values which echo Solimena’s neo-baroque style of post 1733, might therefore be dated between 1738 and 1739 and be compared to S. Vincent Ferrer’s Sermon (Barletta, S. Domenico) executed in 1737. Allowing for some inexactitude in De Dominici’s recall of the exact sequence of events, a dating of 1740 for The Repose of the Huntsmen seems more probable since it evinces more complicated compositional qualities and a heightening of colour which bear distinct similarities to the Turkish and Tripoli Embassies to the Neapolitan Court (Madrid, Prado and Naples, Palazzo Reale) which can be dated 1741. There are also distinct stylistic affinities with a Charity of 1742 on the vault of the sacristy of the Monte de’ Pieta, Naples and a Visitation and an Allegory of Charity painted in 1744 for the vault of the private chapel of the Reggia di Portici. All these latter works have the similar characteristics of a warmer, almost Preti-like palette, a feature apparent in The Repose of the Huntsmen and give an indication the degree to which Bonito had become an official painter at the Bourbon Court.[5] Again this whole group of pictures shares similar physiognomies and landscape details.

The rediscovery of the missing The Repose of the Huntsmen and its dating to a relatively early phase in Bonito’s long career affords us an important insight into the subject matter and stylistic solutions adopted by the artist in his genre subjects. Although the artist’s representations may involve a certain amount of artistic licence, these subjects, and similar works executed at this time by Filippo Falciatore, afford us a unique insight into the reality of everyday events in Neapolitan life. This type of Rococo capriccio enjoyed immense success in Naples and although perhaps less incisive, less naturalistic than the realism of Gaspare Traversi’s mordant genre renditions, equally reflect the reality of Neapolitan society. In Bonito’s case, as Bologna[6] has pointed out there was ‘an inclination to a genre style that was no less lavish than picturesque’ and which could not fail to have interested the young Traversi in the mid-1740s well before his adoption of similar subject matter and his greater interest in the activities of the emerging bourgeoisie or figures from the comedia dell’arte.


[1] B. de Dominici, Vite de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti napoletani, III, Naples, 1745, p. 714.

[2] F. Bologna, Gaspare Traversi nell’illuminismo europeo, Naples, 1980, p. 50, fig. 20.

[3] Ibid., p. 78, no. 110, fig. 22.

[4] C. Beddington, Capolavori in festa. Effimero barocco a Largo di Palazzo (1683-1759), Exh. cat., Palazzo Reale, Naples, 1997-8, pp. 185-9, no. 1.29.

[5] N. Spinosa, Pittura napoletana del Settecento dal Barocco al Rococò, Naples, 1987, pp. 57-60.

[6] Op.cit.p. 50.

65 ¾ x 92 1/8 in. 167 x 234 cm.
Oil on Canvas

Matthiesen Gallery, London, ‘The Settecento’, 1997

Where is It?
Acquired from the Matthiesen Gallery by a Private Collector
Historical Period
Rococo - 1720-1780
Genre or Daily Life
Italian - Neapolitan
1999-Collectanea 1700-1800.
Hard back catalogue of the Exhibition held in London and New York, 220 pages fully illustrated with 46 colour plates. £30 or $40 inc. p.& p.

(Click on image above)
Price band
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