The Martyr of Saint Bartholomew

Pasquale Chiesa (att.), The Martyr of Saint Bartholomew, circa 1650-1654, oil on canvas, 244 x 169,5 cm, 270 x 200 cm (with frame)


Palazzo Vendramin Grimani, 2022

This splendid work is probably one of the masterpieces of Pasquale Chiesa (c. 1630-1654). The young Genoese painter, who died in his prime, was influenced by the Tenebrist painters José de Ribera and Mattia Preti, with whom he has sometimes been confused. His Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, which depicts the flaying of one of Christ’s disciples, was probably executed in the last years of his short life. Chiesa had already produced several important works for important Roman collectors, including Camillo Pamphilij. The art historian Andrea G. De Marchi was the first to attribute the Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew to Chiesa at a time when the work was considered to be a José de Ribera. The research that has been carried out confirms his hypothesis. It is very likely that the Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew was acquired by the Pisan-Florentine scholar Giovanni Battista Ricciardi after Chiesa’s death in 1654. Exhibited in the cloister of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence at the beginning of the eighteenth century under an attribution to Ribera and copied at least twice, it then passed into a private Spanish collection. It has not been exhibited in Italy for almost 300 years. Thanks to the quality of its composition, and the mastery of this great and powerful baroque language, this exceptional work allows us today to rediscover the talent of a young prodigy.