Pompeo Batoni

The Entombment

1708 Lucca - 1787 Rom
Canvas, 43,8 x 29,8 cm
Painted about 1761-62

 

Essay

The painting is a compositional sketch in oils for The Entombment, Santi Trinità, Cremona and was painted in preparation for the large composition.

The Cremonese parish church of Santi Trinità was substantially reconstructed between 1737-39 by Andrea Nono, an architect from the Veneto, and consecrated the 25th September 1740. The church has been described as "una delle più significative espressioni dell'arte barocca in Lombardia" (Zucchelli 2005, p.104) and is distinguished by a variety of pictorial decoration contemporaneous with Batoni's Entombment including frescoes by Giovanni Gru, The Finding of Moses, Rebecca atthe Well, and Jacob's Ladder, 1749; Fabrizio Galliari, The Trinity in Glory, 1766; and Francesco Saviani, Baptism and Transfiguration, 1766; and altarpieces by Giambettino Cignaroli, Christ in Glory with Saints Egidius, Cajetan, and Francis ofSales, and Giuseppe Peroni, The Vergin and Child Appearing to Saint FrancisXavier, 1764 and 1767, respectively.

The commission to Batoni for the Entombment was the result of a bequest of 17th September 1758 from a parishioner, Rocco Orlandini (c.1688-1758), a Bergamasco from the Val Brembana, for a new altarpiece for the Cappella del Santo Sepolcro in Santi Trinità to replace an early sixteenth-century depiction of the subject by Franceso Prata da Caravaggio (Zucchelli 2005, p. 89 [ill.]) in exchange for the right of burial in the chapel. The parish priest, Don Antonio Gozzoni, noted the details of Orlandi's death on 20. September and burial in the church's "Liber mortuorum", adding: "Il suddetto [signor Orlandini] nel suo testamento costitui me prevosto Gozzoni commissario unico per realizzare la nuova Icona, da porre al posto della vecchia nella detta Cappella del Santo Sepolcro, di ottimo pennello" (Facchi 1983 [References], p. 94, n. 2b; Zucchelli 2005, pp. 144, 160, n. 184). Three days after the death of Orlandini, his widow, Lucia Bonzi, presented a petition to the Consorzio del SS. Sacramento regarding her husband's testamentary bequest: "Avendo il signor Rocco Mascheroni Orlandini prima del suo morire-scrive-fatto il di lui testamento e comandato che sia fatta un'Ancona di Pennello dei più eccellenti all'altare detto del S. Sepolcro d'essa parrocchiale della SS. Trinità, esprimente il Mistero della vecchia Ancona, quale sarà levata, coll'aggiunta dei Santi Giuseppe e Antonio di Padova, supplica però la Signora Lucia Bonzi, vedova del signor Rocco, le Signorie loro acciò diino permesso che, levata detta Ancona vecchia quale sarà a disposizione dei detti Sig. Sindaci, possa far riporre sopra ditto Altare la nuova e ciò a tutte spese dell'eredità di detto defunto che desidera farli questo piccol tribute come parrocchiano" (Facchi 1983 [Referenced], p. 94, n. 3 citing the Libro delle Parti in the church's archives, fol. 89 v; Zucchelli 2005, pp. 144, 160, n. 185). Gozzoni, in the document cited above, noted "lo invero posi questa tela dipinta a Roma dal celeberrimo signor Pomeo Gerolamo Batoni, del valore di 420 scudi romani per la sola Icona, eccetto le altre spese. Venne posta alla pubblica venerazione nell'anno 1762" (Zucchelli 2005, pp. 144, 160, n. 184).

In accordance with the dictates of the commission Batoni has departed from the usual iconography of this episode from the Passion of Christ. He has depicted the usual principal figures, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene, and Saint John the Evangelist, lowering the body of Christ, lying on a winding sheet, into the tomb, a simple rectangular sarcophagus. The grief-stricken Virgin presides over the composition with her arms spread in lamentation, the other Mary leaning against her with clasped hands. The presence of Saint Joseph, standing at the left with with a flowering rod, and Saint Anthony of Padua, dressed in the brown habit of the Franciscan order, kneeling at the right and holding Christ's hand, his attributes of a lily and book nearby, satisfy the requirements of the late testator, Rocco Orlandini. The altar of the Holy Sepulchre in the first chapel at right was executed in black and white marble by the Milanes sculptor Ambrogio Pedetti in 1761 (see Zucchelli 2005, p. 143, for the painting shown in situ in the Cappella del Santo Sepolcro).

The painting may be that referred to in a document of exportation to an unspecified destination in January 1762. "Pompeo Batoni pittore in Roma spedisce un suo quadro di altare stimato scudi 100" (Bertolotti 1877, p. 215).

 


Provenance

Private collection Great Britain


Literature

Francesco Sforza Benvenuti, Storia di Crema, Milan, 1859, vol. 2, p. 296.
Andrea Bombelli, Crema Bella: Guida artistica di Crema e dintorni, Cremona, 1953, p. 34.
Winifred Terni di Gregory, Crema monumentale e artistica, Crema, 1955, p.45.
G. Lucchi, "Un quadro di Pompeo Batoni e la storia della Chiesa di S. Sepolcro," Lanuovo Torrazzo (2 August 1975), p.5. 
Giuseppe Facchi, La chiesa della Trinità in Crema, Crema, 1983, p. 94, fig. 56;
Clark and Bowron 1985, p. 280, no.233.
Zucchelli 2005, pp. 142-45; Paola Betti, in Filieri 2008a, pp. 124-26.