Photo credit: Southampton City Art Gallery
Is anything more known about this painting? It was bequeathed by the 7th Duke of Wellington through The Art Fund in 1975, see https://bit.ly/39t3gya.
Looks late Baroque, late 17th to early 18th century., though I am not sure about German School, though it may have a German provenance. Is anything more known about the provenance?
There may be a larger related altarpiece still in place in its original site
Jacinto, I've just let the Collection know that this and two other Southampton public discussions have gone live now; and I asked that question in passing. When I found the Art Fund page cited it did make me think something must be documented about the 7th Duke's Collection that could help. David
As Martin suggests, this is likely to be a modello for a large-scale altarpiece. I can see why it has been thought to be German and it might worth considering Franz Anton Maulbertsch (1724-1796), who was German-born and worked in the Austro-Hungarian Empire:
Here is a work (c. 1720) on Wikimedia Commons by the Italian painter Francesco Solimena (1657 – 1747) that seems to include some similarities (faces, legs, wings and frantic activity). It might help to narrow down the nationality of the artist. https://tinyurl.com/vy3t6zyw. I have attached a composite.
Attribution apart, the picture fits Solimena's period.
Both the Maulbertsch and the Solimena are characterised by a powerful use of light and shade, in particular having figures backlit or with shadow across their faces. This does not necessarily rule out those artists.
I'm not sure about the German School attribution, but if it were not, could it be by someone like Benjamin West? There are a few similar works of his on Art UK:
Plus this one depicting inside the Temple: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/christ-healing-the-sick-in-the-temple-5188
There is a 2005 monograph on Maulbertsch 'Painterly equipment ..' University of North Carolina Press by Thomas da Costa Kauffmann
and a 1974 oeuvre catalogue by Klara Garas as well as several other publications in the British Library
The Barockmuseum in Salzburg had an exhibition of his oil skecthes in 1990
an early Circumsion by him of 1758 in the Hungarian parish church of Su[umlaut]eg is not like this
I do not think this is by West. His grouped figures are smaller and more crowded, and he did not work in a truly Baroque idiom. This work feels earlier.
In my opinion not by Maulbertsch, certainly not by Solimena, most certainly not by West. Maulbertsch is the closest of the three although not by him. I had the good fortune to see the Maulbertsch exhibition in Vienna in 1974 and, while this was a long time ago, it seems to me that Maulbertsch’s faces are flatter, his colours both hotter and softer and his figures more elongated and contorted than in our work.
But I regret that I cannot suggest an artist, while thinking that the German label may be appropriate. Date: c.1700-25 to hazard a guess.
Note that the top of the picture is cut off.
I had mentioned similar faces in my earlier post about a work by Solimena. The attached image shows two examples.
We need to know from the collection if there is any relevant provenance information.
If the current attribution is not based on provenance, what is the basis for it?
I suppose the handling is not fluent enough to be Italian, though that also depends on the specific hand involved.
For comparison, here is a Rubens Circumcision c. 1605:
Obviously ours is a much lesser work, especially the lower half.
Perhaps if the 'German' attribution is correct, we could look at works by other German (and Austrian) Rococo painters. There's a handy list of some of them on Wikimedia Commons:
German Rococo: https://bit.ly/3owSr6X
Austrian Rococo: https://bit.ly/3oAxat8
Some seem to focus more on portraits, so can perhaps be discounted, but there are plenty of altarpieces and ceiling decorations in a similar style.
Jacinto, I have asked the Collection for the basis of the German School attribution. David