Attribution


















Federico Barocci






The only provenancial information that came with the treated painting was the one verso label attributing the Apollo and Venus to “Federico Baroccio,” a late-Mannerist, early-Baroque artist born around 1533 in Urbino, Italy. (20) The artist's last name is properly spelled without the ending “o.”

Barocci's career included early studies in Urbino and later in Rome. He would have been well aware of Urbino's greatest artist, Raphael. In 1563, Barocci returned from Rome to Urbino, where he lived for the remainder of his career producing colorful altarpieces, lyrical paintings, and exquisite portraits. Barocci was known as a master draftsman in both oils and pastels. He was meticulous in his preparatory studies. Over 2,000 drawings exist from his hand today. Below are several images that attest to his extraordinary skills, including the upper-left Self-Portrait.









Federico Barocci "Self-Portrait" 1660
Residenzgalerie
Salzburg, Austria


Federico Barocci "St. Joseph" Pastel, 1585
Musée des Beaux Arts
Lille, France



Federico Barocci "Annunciation" 1592
Santa Maria Degli Angeli
Assisi, Italy


Federico Barocci "Annunciation Hand Studies" Pastel
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Berlin, Germany









Federico Barocci "Madonna del Popolo" 1579
Uffizi Gallery
Florence, Italy


Federico Barocci "Madonna del Popolo" Detail
Uffizi Gallery
Florence, Italy













Apart from a few portraits and a single late painting Aeneas Fleeing Troy, Barocci's pictures are exclusively religious in theme. Based on his superior skills, it seemed that the inflated Apollo and Venus attribution to Barocci was unrealistic. But if not Barocci, then who?

For stylistic, thematic, and attribution problems, I have always turned to Dr. Robert Baldwin. In the summer of 1975, Robert and I overlapped at the Art Institute of Chicago, where I was on staff and he was a college intern. That “intern” went on to receive his PhD from Harvard University, specializing in Northern Renaissance and Baroque Art. He is currently associate professor of art history at Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut.










Dr. Robert Baldwin


 
An e-mail inquiry and an image of the painting was sent to Robert on April 27, 2017. He immediately recognized and replied that the figure of Venus was “invented by Giulio Bonasone whose engraving became the basis for the painting. It was part of Bonasone's series 'The Loves of the Gods' ['Amorosi diletti degli dei'].” (21) Giulio Bonasone (ca. 1500-1576) was an Italian painter and printmaker born in Bologna, Italy. His engraving and Apollo and Venus are represented below.










 "Apollo and Venus"
After Treatment

Hoyt Sherman Place
Des Moines, Iowa


Giulio Bonasone "Allegory of Painting" ca. 1576
From "Amorosi diletti degli dei"
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York












An engraving reverses the image of its preparatory drawing. Therefore, whoever executed the Apollo and Venus must have seen Bonasone's drawing and was either an Italian artist or someone working in Italy. By reversing the engraving one obtains a sense of the original drawing.














"Apollo and Venus"
After Treatment

Hoyt Sherman Place
Des Moines, Iowa


Giulio Bonasone "Allegory of Painting" ca. 1576, Reversed
From "Amorosi diletti degli dei"
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York


In an e-mail to Robert on May 1, 2017, I noted my sense that the painting seemed to have more Flemish characteristics than Italian. The “fleshiness” of the female figure suggested a pre-Rubens origin and the lower still lifes gave the impression of being visual “ancestors” to later Dutch seventeenth-century painting.







 Third Discovery

Robert's brilliant breakthrough reply came the next day: “Flemish is actually not a bad guess - what about Otto van Veen? He designed a huge book of love emblems and painted love allegories, some of which are attached including 'Mercury Crowning Poetry, Music, Astronomy and Painting' - a close parallel to Apollo inspiring Venus. Most importantly, Veen's sugar-sweet faces and bodies look just like the ones in your painting.” (22) Below are full view and detail images of Apollo and Venus and Mercury Crowning Poetry, Music, Astronomy and Painting.





"Apollo and Venus"
After Treatment

Hoyt Sherman Place
Des Moines, Iowa



Otto van Veen
"Mercury Crowning Poetry, Music,
Astronomy and Painting"
Drouot 2014 Auction Sale








One can immediately see the similarities and “fleshiness” in Venus's and Astronomy's arms. The somewhat stiff, unemotional character of the main female figures is also the same in both paintings.








"Apollo and Venus" Detail Rotated
After Treatment



Otto van Veen
"Mercury Crowning Poetry...." Detail



"Apollo and Venus" Detail
After Treatment


Otto van Veen
"Mercury Crowning Poetry...." Detail


Otto van Veen




Geertrui van Veen "Otto van Veen" ca. 1630
Royal Museums of Fine Art
Brussels, Belgium (23)








Otto van Veen, also known by his Latin name Otto Venius or Octavius Vaenius, was born in Leiden around 1556. (24) His early education was divided between the city's Latin School and his apprenticeship as a painter with Isaac Claesz van Swanenburgh, a former pupil of Frans Floris. In 1575 van Veen traveled to Rome for further study.

Around 1580, he returned north and procured several court appointments, including ones with Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, William V in Munich, and Allesandro Farnese, governor of the southern Netherlands. After Farnese's death in 1592, van Veen settled in Antwerp, Belgium. His presence there is verified from commissions he received for church altarpieces. He also oversaw a productive and vibrant studio with numerous students. His most famous pupil was Peter Paul Rubens, who trained with van Veen from 1594 to 1600.

Dr. Carl van de Velde, associate with the Centrum Rubenianum in Antwerp, documented in his article on van Veen that “from the first decade of the 17th century onward van Veen became increasingly involved in writing and illustrating books; the most famous are his emblem books 'Quini Horatii Flacci Emblemata' ['Emblems from Horace'] (1607) and the 'Amoris Emblemata' ['Love Emblems'] (1608). After Rubens returned from Italy in 1608, van Veen gradually disappeared from the Antwerp art scene.” (25) He finally left Antwerp in 1615 and moved to Brussels, where he remained until his death in 1629.

In his iconic text, Seventeenth Century Flemish Painting, Eric Larsen cites van Veen's “sweetness, elegance, and beauty of external shapes.” (26) Dr. Baldwin also referred to “Veen's sugar-sweet faces and bodies.…” Nowhere is this “sweetness” more pronounced than in the figure of Cupid in Apollo and Venus and the putti in van Veen's Putti Bacchanal. The charm in Cupid's upturned, adoring facial pose mirrors the playful, cherubic character of the curly haired putti in the Putti Bacchanal.




"Apollo and Venus" Detail
Cupid
After Treatment


Otto van Veen "Putti Bacchanal"
National Trust, Ham House
London, England




"Apollo and Venus" Detail
Cupid
After Treatment


Otto van Veen "Putti Bacchanal" Detail
National Trust, Ham House
London, England







A comparison of van Veen's Amazons and Scythians and Apollo and Venus further crystallizes the painting's attribution and warrants a similar date of circa 1595. The unemotional, somewhat vapid staring faces of the Amazons are identical to Venus's impassive gaze, and the female forms in both paintings exhibit the same “fleshy” quality seen earlier in Mercury Crowning Poetry, Music, Astronomy and Painting. While female backsides might be an unusual element for comparison, I believe the below images solidify and justify the attribution and date of Hoyt Sherman Place's Apollo and Venus to Rubens's teacher, Otto van Veen.









Otto van Veen "Apollo and Venus" ca. 1595
Hoyt Sherman Place
Des Moines, Iowa


Otto van Veen "Amazons and Scythians" ca. 1595
Kunsthistorisches Museum
Vienna, Austria








"Apollo and Venus" Detail
After Treatment


Otto van Veen "Amazons and Scythians"
Detail of Central Amazon








"Apollo and Venus" Detail
After Treatment


Otto van Veen "Amazons and Scythians"
Detail of Left Amazon









While the above comparisons offered compelling evidence for a van Veen attribution, a history of the painting's discovery, its provenance, and detail images were sent to national and international scholars for further review and analysis.

Dr. Zirka Filipczak, retired professor of art history at Williams College, and author of Picturing Art in Antwerp, stated: “Very nice painting and yes, to my eye convincingly by Otto van Veen. In other words, if I were a paintings dealer I'd put my money on it being by him. The blocky, idealizing simplification of the bodies fully fits his style, as does the handling of the faces. Before opening all the images I got glimpses of Apollo's and Cupid's faces and that already convinced me.” (27)

An additional critique was received from Dr. Nico Van Hout, curator of seventeenth-century paintings at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. His review noted: “An attribution of Van Veen does not seem illogical to me on the basis of these images, even though I should look at the painting with my own eyes to have more certainty. Especially the Cupid head and the comparison with the Amazons and Scythians convince me.” (28)

A final review was undertaken by the Centrum Rubenianum in Antwerp. The Centrum Rubenianum is an organization that serves to expand its documentation in relation to Rubens, his close associates, and followers. The Centrum also responds to artwork inquiries. In an e-mail received September 20, 2017, the Centrum stated: "Based on your photos, an attribution to van Veen certainly seems plausible." They also sent the below oil sketch image showing van Veen's interest in the overall composition. (29)














Otto van Veen "Zeuxis Painting a Portrait of the Beautiful Helena" ca. 1596
New York, Private Collection












Eric Larsen summarized his comments on van Veen with: “The importance of [Otto van Veen] lies primarily in his scholarly and Humanistic background. He transposes for us the spirit of his time in the way that he drew illustrations from Horace or interpreted allegories of Divine glory and love. Nowhere else can we find such meshing of literacy and emblematic learning with painterly skill.” (30) This concept and the underlying theme behind Apollo and Venus will be examined on the next page.









Page 9--Ut pictura poesis
























Page 1--IntroductionPage 2--History of Hoyt Sherman Place,   Page 3--Adopt a Painting/First Discovery,
Page 4--Provenance,  Page 5--Examination,   Page 6--Treatment,   Page 7--The Letters/Second Discovery,
Page 8--Attribution/Third DiscoveryPage 9--Ut pictura poesis  Page 10--Final Thoughts/PBS Video













Footnotes


20. Barocci biographical information from https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/federico-barocci. Accessed 7/18/17.
21. E-mail from Dr. Robert Baldwin 4/27/17. Giulio Bonasone was active in Rome and Bologna from 1531-1576.
22. E-mail from Dr. Robert Baldwin 5/2/17.
23. Geertrui van Veen (1602-1643) was Otto van Veen's daughter.
24. Biographical information from Van de Velde, Carl, "Veen [Vaenius; Venius], Otto van," Grove Art Online, Oxford University Press from  http://www.oxfordartonline.com:80/subscriber/article/grove/art/T088415. Accessed 8/7/17.
25. Ibid.
26. Larsen, Eric. (1985) Seventeenth Century Flemish Painting. Luca Verlag. Luca. p.58.
27. E-mail from Dr. Zirka Filipczak 5/20/17.
28. E-mail from Dr. Nico Van Hout 6/6/17.
29. E-mail from Centrum Rubenianum 9/20/17. Oil sketch reproduced and dated in Justus Hofstede, "Ut picura poesis": Rubens Und Die Humanistische Kunsttheorie. Gentse Bijdragen. Vol. XXIV. 1976-1978. p.181.
30. Larsen, op. cit. p.59.




















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Barry Bauman Conservation
Contact: Mr. Barry Bauman
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