GIOVANNI BATTISTA PIAZZETTA
(Venice 1682-1754)

 

San Girolamo Miani
 


Oil on canvas


16 ¼ x 12 ¼ inches
(41.3 x 31.1 cm)

 

Engraved by Antonio Baratti, 1769 (IGM 191, 191a)
Engraved by Marco Pitteri (IGM 189)
Engraved by Pietro Perfetti (IGM 189a)
Engravedby Giovanni Petrini (IGM 190a) [1]

Provenance:   

Sale, Christie’s East, New York, Nov. 3, 1999, lot 213 (as Giovanni Battista Piazzetta: Saint Jerome Emiliani);
Collection Charles Blakiston Ashburner, Montross, Virginia, 1999-2010

Literature:

Adriano Mariuz and Rodolfo Pallucchini, L’opera complete del Piazzetta, Milan 1982, no. 204 as a lost painting known from the engraving of Antonio Baratti

Maria Agnese Chiari Moretto Wiel, ed.  L’eredità di Piazzetta; Volti e figure nell’incisione del Settecento, exh. cat., Venice: Palazzo Ducale, 1996, p. 68, no. 135, for the Baratti engraving after the lost painting by Piazzetta

 

Piazzetta’s half-length paintings of saints are among his most memorable works.  They are at once moving devotional images and probing character studies depicting a variety of physical types of different ages.  Seen as a group (as when reviewing Pitteri’s engravings after them) they are readily, almost defiantly distinguishable one from the other but identifiable only through the inclusion of an emblem appropriate the subject – here the crucifix resting atop the ball and shackle, associated with the Venetian saint Girolamo Miani.   George Knox was the first to identify the present painting as Piazzetta’s lost depiction of the saint (who was also known as San Girolamo, or St. Jerome Emiliani) --a work previously known from engravings by Antonio Baratti, Marco Pitteri, Pietro Perfetti, and Giovanni Petrini.[2]  The subject, Girolamo Miani (1481-1537), was a Venetian senator, celebrated for his many acts of charity.  These were focused on the poor, the sick, on “fallen women,” and orphans.  In 1532 he founded a religious order, the “Company of the Servants of the Poor,” later officially designated the "Clerici regulares S. Majoli Papiae congregationis Somaschae” (today generally known today as Somaschi or Somascan Fathers) after its seat at Somasca on the shores of Lake Como.

When young, Girolamo joined the Venetian army and was taken prisoner while defending Castelnuovo against the forces of the League of Cambrai.  He was miraculously liberated from captivity – an event alluded to by the ball and shackle upon which the crucifix that is the object of the saint’s devotion rests.  Girolamo Miani was canonized by Pope Clement XIII in 1767 and it is reasonable to suppose that the present painting was painted at that time, or shortly after. Baratti’s engraving of the painting is dated 1769. A poor copy of the painting is in the Collegio della Maddalena, Genoa (IGM 188)

 

[1] Knox, in Christie’s East sale catalogue cited above, p. 83.

[2] IGM references above are to the on-line resource devoted to the iconography of the saint: “Iconografia S. Girolamo Miani” (http://schedariocrs.altervista.org/ACM/Iconografia.html)