The forty-three paintings presented in this catalogue raisonné of the seventeenth-century paintings in the Isabella and Vittorio Ducrot Collection are analyzed in depth by the scholar Letizia Treves. For each painting, accurately reproduced, the passages from one collection to another are reconstructed, and the relevant critical debate is discussed. Each entry ends with a detailed bibliography. The publication of the collection, practically unknown of until now but filled with great master works, represents an event for art history both in Italy and around the world.
Passione Barocco is the paradigmatic expression of the essence of collecting, in which micro-history is interwoven with history, art history is combined with the history of taste, and individual stories are joined with artistic currents. The concise, penetrating style of the entries written by Letizia Treves examines a century of painting, the Italian Seicento, also touching on France and Germany, a sole sixteenth-century antecedent (Annibale Carracci), and rare offshoots in the eighteenth century. In most cases, the subjects are of a religious nature, with forays into myth and allegory, and the signatures are either those of famous artists – from Pietro da Cortona to Luca Giordano, from Carlo Dolci to Cavalier d’Arpino, from Artemisia to Lanfranco, from Cagnacci to Battistello Caracciolo – or of painters who have recently returned to the limelight, starting from Giovanni Battista Beinaschi all the way to Andrea Vaccaro and Giuseppe Vermiglio. Dulcis in fundo, truly a masterstroke by Letizia Treves is the identification of an unpublished work by Simone Cantarini, the Testa di una giovane (Head of a Young Man), hitherto unattributed.
But Passione Barocco is above all the “expression of egocentrism and vanity”. The sentiments that Vittorio Ducrot tells us about instigate collecting; we can hardly dispute his opinion seeing that the paintings displayed and analyzed in the volume are his own. The fruit of a vibrant and profound passion – which he shares with his wife Isabella – and laid bare in the introductory pages that reveal the talent and passion of the true memorialist, who, through the episodes in his life, told without useless reticence, bestows upon the reader a universal lesson of life. Authoritative texts by Luciano Arcangeli and Claudio Strinati offer, as they close the substantial volume, a glance “from the outside” – thus an objective one – upon the Ducrot Collection.
IT. Letizia Treves ha frequentato l’Università di Cambridge ove si è laureata in storia dell’arte scrivendo una tesi sui disegni di Simone Cantarini. In seguito ha conseguito un M.A. al Courtauld Institute of Art, con una tesi sui disegni di Michelangelo utilizzati da Daniele da Volterra, pubblicata in seguito sulla rivista «Apollo». Dal 1996 al 2012 ha lavorato per Sotheby’s, ove ha coperto il posto di Senior Director, esperta in dipinti italiani per le sedi di New York, Londra, Milano e Roma. Dal 2013 è Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600-1800 alla National Gallery di Londra.
EN. Letizia Treves studied at the University of Cambridge where she graduated in History of Art, writing a dissertation on the drawings of Simone Cantarini. Afterwards she received an M.A. from The Courtauld Institute of Art, writing her dissertation on Michelangelo’s drawings used by Daniele da Volterra, which she later published as an article in the art journal ‘Apollo’. From 1996 to 2012 she worked for Sotheby’s London, attaining the position of Senior Director in the Old Master Paintings department, specialising in Italian paintings. Since 2013 she is Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600–1800 at the National Gallery, London.