Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri), (Italian, Bologna 1581 - 1641 Naples)
Landscape with Flight into Egypt, ca. 1605
Oil on copper
10 3/8 x 13 1/2 in. (26.4 x 34.3 cm)
Mrs. F. F. Prentiss Fund, 1968
With its biblical narrative set before a carefully structured landscape, marked by identifiable Roman architecture, the Landscape with Flight into Egypt is one of the earliest works by the artist to manifest the ideal of the classical landscape.
Domenichino probably painted Landscape with Flight into Egypt in Rome around 1605-6. He was closely associated with the workshop of Annibale Carracci, the preeminent Bolognese painter in Rome, and it is possible that he assisted Annibale on a painting of the Flight into Egypt, one of six lunettes in a chapel of the Aldobrandini Palace. 1 Begun in about 1604, the Aldobrandini lunettes were Annibale's most mature conception as a landscape painter, and the ideality and classical balance of these works were to have a profound influence on the development of Western landscape painting. Although considerably smaller than the lunettes, Domenichino's panel clearly reveals their influence in its warm lighting and harmonious composition.
Spear has discovered two drawings by Domenichino that appear to be related to the present painting. One of these is a compositional sketch in pen and ink, now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid; 2 the organization of this sketch resembles that of the painting, and the arrangement of the figures in the lower left corner is especially similar. A second drawing, now at the Kunstmuseum in Düsseldorf, 3 is closely associated with the design of the figures of the Madonna and Child in the Oberlin panel, and it also shows the influence of Annibale's depiction of the Madonna and Child in the Aldobrandini lunette of the Flight into Egypt. Annibale's influence is also clear in the pose of the boatman at the left of the Oberlin panel, which Domenichino has based on the corresponding figure at the right of Annibale's lunette.
For the buildings in the background of the picture, Domenichino turned to several famous structures in classical Rome. The round building to the right of center was inspired by either the Pantheon or the Mausoleum of Caecilia Metella, while the pyramids at the center of the panel recall the tombs of Scipio Africanus and Gaius Cestius. Renaissance and Baroque artists often included ancient Roman buildings in the backgrounds of images of the nativity and infancy of Christ. They served both to illustrate the historical period of his birth and to indicate the old order overturned by the coming of Christ. In ideal landscapes such as the present work, however, the representation of classical architecture also contributes more generally to the poetic and evocative tone of the image.
Several other works by Domenichino are closely related to the present work. The early painting, The Ford, in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome, 4 and the much later and much larger Landscape with Fortifications in the Denis Mahon Collection, London, 5 share with the Oberlin painting all the typical elements of classical landscape, while the Landscape with Rest on the Flight into Egypt in the Musée Mandet, Riom, 6 includes a similar figural group in the right foreground.
Domenico Zampieri was born in Bologna in 1581. He initially studied the humanities, briefly training as a painter with the Flemish artist Denis Calvaert (ca. 1540-1619). He then entered the Carraccis' Accademia degli Incamminati around 1595, where he gained a foundation in life drawing and humanistic studies. In 1602 Domenichino followed Annibale Carracchi to Rome, where he contributed to the production of Annibale's frescoes in the Galleria Farnese (ca. 1604-5) and Aldobrandini Palace. In 1606 he was working in the Palazzo Mattei with Francesco Albani (1578-1660), Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647), and others from the Carracci circle. Between 1612 and 1615 he completed the fresco cycle in the Polet Chapel in San Luigi dei Francesi, his first independent commission; and in 1614 he completed the Last Communion of St. Jerome, his first altarpiece, for San Girolanodella Carità, Rome (now in the Pinacoteca Vaticana). From 1617 to 1621 he worked in Bologna and Fano. He returned to Rome in 1621, and during the following decade he finished a series of major works for churches in Rome, including frescoes in San Andrea della Valle, an altarpiece for St. Peter's, and frescoes in San Silvestro al Quirinale, San Carlo ai Catinari, Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Maria della Vittoria. In 1631 he moved to Naples to decorate the most important chapel in the city, the Treasury Chapel of San Gennaro, a project entailing six altarpieces and a large fresco cycle. He died in Naples in 1641, possibly the victim of poisoning.
Spear, Richard E. Domenichino. 2 vols. New Haven, 1982.
Emiliani, Andrea, Denis Mahon, Richard E. Spear, et al. Domenichino, 1581-1641. Exh. cat., Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 1996-97.
Collection H. Pearson, Datchett, Windsor
Possibly sale Gen. Thiebaut, London (Christie's), 13 June 1817, lot 61 ( £77.14, to Gray)
Possibly sale London (Christie's), 1 May 1830 (as "A small Landscape, with the Flight into Egypt, with classical Buildings in the distance")
With Ferdinando Peretti, London, from whom purchased in 1968
Rome, Palazzo Venezia, 1996-97. Domenichino, 1581-1641. 10 October - 14 January. Cat. no. 12.
Spear, Richard E. "A Landscape with Flight into Egypt by Domenichino." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 26, no. 3 (Spring 1969), pp. 91-102.
Buck, Richard E. "Note on Laboratory Examination." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 26, no. 3 (Spring 1969), pp. 103-5.
Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 27, no. 2 (Winter 1970), p. 60, fig. 1.
Spear, Richard E. "A Drawing of the Virgin and Child at Düsseldorf." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 28, no. 3 (Spring 1971), pp. 171-82.
Stechow, Wolfgang. "Varieties of Landscape." Apollo 13, no. 168 (1976), p. 113, fig. 2.
Gaspard Dughet und die ideale landschaft. Exh. cat., Goethe-Museum, Düsseldorf, 1981, p. 60, cat. no. 34.
Spear, Richard E. Domenichino. Vol. 1. New Haven, 1982, pp. 73, 80, 127- 8, 141-42, 240, 302-33, cat. no. 22. Vol. 2. New Haven, 1982, pl. 36.
Ferreri, Oreste. "Sul tema del presaggio della Passione, su altri connessi principalmente nell'eta della 'riforma cattolica.'" Storia dell'arte 61 (1987), p. 212, ill.
Bailey, Stephen Michael. "Carracci Landscape Studies: The Drawings Related to the 'Recueil de 283 Estampes de Jabach.'" Ph.D. diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1993, pp. 142-43.
Whitfield, Clovis. "Les Paysages du Dominiquin et de Viola." Monuments et Mémoires. Fondation Engène Diot (1988), pp. 76-78.
Spear, Richard E. "Domenichino Addenda." The Burlington Magazine 131, no. 103 (January 1989), p. 12 n. 46.
Spear, Richard E. In Domenichino, 1581-1641. Exh. cat., Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 1996-97, pp. 394-95.
The present work was painted on a copper plate of uneven thickness, which appears to have been rolled rather than hammered. On the recto, the copper plate has been scratched to give it tooth and then covered with a thin layer of lead or lead alloy. 7 There is no ground in the usual sense, but there does seem to be an organic layer between the paint and the lead alloy. There have been moderate losses and retouchings in the paint surface, especially in the sky at the left side and above the buildings at the right.
1. Oil on canvas, 122 x 230 cm, Rome, Galleria Doria Pamphilj; reproduced in Richard E. Spear, Domenichino, vol. 1 (New Haven, 1982), p. 142, cat. no. 21.
2. Pen with brown ink on white paper, 19.6 x 28.8 cm, inv. 1806. There are two known copies of this drawing; see Richard E. Spear, Domenichino, vol. 1 (New Haven, 1982), p. 143, cat. no. 22.
3. Pen with brown ink on beige paper, 20.6 x 29.0 cm, inv. FP 282; see Richard E. Spear, "A Drawing of the Virgin and Child at Düsseldorf," Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 28, no. 3 (Spring 1971), pp. 177-82; and Gaspard Dughet und die ideale landschaft (exh. cat., Goethe-Museum, Düsseldorf, 1981), cat. no. 34.
4. Oil on canvas, 47 x 59.5 cm; reproduced in Richard E. Spear, Domenichino, vol. 1 (New Haven, 1982), cat. no. 16, dated by Spear about 1604-5.
5. Oil on canvas, 112 x 193 cm; reproduced in Richard E. Spear, Domenichino, vol. 1 (New Haven, 1982), cat. no. 110, dated by Spear probably 1634-35.
6. Oil on canvas, 36 x 38 cm; reproduced in Richard E. Spear, Domenichino, vol. 1 (New Haven, 1982), cat. no. 19, dated by Spear about 1605.
7. As Spear has pointed out, Domenichino "silvered" his copper supports by coating the front with a lead-tin alloy; he possibly did this either in order to increase the bond of the ground and prevent greenish corrosion, or to make the ground more reflective and luminous. See Richard E. Spear, "Domenichino Addenda," The Burlington Magazine 131, no. 103 (January 1989), p. 12 n. 46; and idem, Domenichino, 1581-1641 (exh. cat., Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 1996-97), cat. no. 12.