The Young Hannibal Swears Emnity to Rome
(Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini)


Pallucchini (loc. cit., p.247-8) briefly discusses this picture, referring to it as an Episode from Roman History. Dating it circa 1731, he compares it to two Allegories of Painting and Sculpture in the Venice Accademia and to the Healing of the Paralytic of 1727 in the Karlskirche, Vienna. This, he notes, represents ‘un momento di ristagno classicizzante’. He goes on to suggest the influence of Ricci and possibly Tiepolo and notes the ‘modo di far cantare il colore in luce ed in ombra una modellazione più intensa, alcune preziosità di pennellata ed infine il tre quarti dell’arguto visetto della scultura, che si ripete nella sua struttura, nel giovane con l’elmo’. Versions of our picture and of its pendant, Polyxena led to Sacrifice, form overdoors in the former Antechamber of the Residenz at Würzburg and probably date from 1737, although V. Rottger (Malerei in Unterfranken, 1926) dates them to 1735. The Würzburg Hannibal is virtually identical in every aspect to our painting, lacking only the head at the extreme right and two halberdiers, but it is coarser in handling and is less finely detailed as might be expected in a large overdoor painting intended to be hung high.

Since no preparatory drawing is known, it is difficult to judge how the composition was originally conceived. However, the inclusion of the additional figure in our picture provides a more satisfactory composition and would support the case for the present picture being the first version, a view shared by Bernard Aikema who dates our picture to 1737 before the Würzburg version and by Professor Alessandro Bettagno who will publish the painting in a future monograph.

Hannibal’s upraised profile is virtually a leitmotif in Pellegrini’s painting, appearing in, for example, Medoro and Angelica (Narford Hall) and in The Happy Return of the Elector Johann Wilhelm (Schleissheim, Schloss; See Fig.1 detail). He is also very close to the Venice Pittura, whose precise modelling and drapery resemble his. Since Pellegrini’s style made no dramatic changes during the 1730s, there is no reason to deny the possibility that our picture may be later than Pallucchini supposed, and may even have been painted at Würzburg.

27 7/8 x 37 in. 71 x 94 cm.
Oil on canvas

PROVENANCE: Ruggero Sonino, Venice; Christie’s, London, 24 April, 1981, lot 98.


LITERATURE: R. Pallucchini, ‘Novità ed appunti per Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini’, Pantheon XVIII, 1960, p.247-8, ill; G. Knox, Antonio Pellegrini, Oxford, 1995, p.239, no. P.169.


EXHIBITED: Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd, London, 1987, The Settecento 1700-1800, no. 10, pl. 5.

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Historical Period
Rococo - 1720-1780
Historical events
Italian - Venetian
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.

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