MONOGRAMMIST R.G. (Active in Rome c.1625)
The present painting appeared for the first time on the art market with an attribution to the enigmatic follower of Caravaggio known as “Cecco del Caravaggio”. A group of stylistically consistent works has been attributed to this unknown follower of Caravaggio, augmented considerably by Gianni Papi who, in the pursuit of delineating the painter’s style, identified instead a separate cohesive group by the Monogrammist R.G., who acquires his name from the monogram present on a painting in the collection of Cassa di Risparmio di Genova e Imperia, “The Guitar Player” (see literature).
The similarities between the present painting and The Guitar Player are unmistakeable, particularly the sculptural quality of the figures, the representation of their gestures and the almost metallic sheen of the folds of drapery. Here, the crude realism of Cecco del Caravaggio is also evident, which unites the Monogrammist to the French followers of Caravaggio active in Rome, such as Valentin de Boulogne, Nicolas Regnier e Nicolas Tournier.
Don Victor Franco de Baux has identified the coat of arms that appears on the breast plate of the central soldier as the arms of the Acugna, a Sicilian family that belonged to the noble House of Acûna di Leon, decendents of the King Fruela II of Leon (cfr. Around 1610…, p. 72). The soldier, who turns to look at the spectator with a resolute stare, is a portrait from life.
Christ crowned with thorns
Oil on canvas, 142.6 x 196.5 cm
Collection of Marquis Acugna, Sicily;
Private collection, New York;
with Matthiesen Fine Art, London;
Around 1610: The Onset of the Baroque, exhibition catalogue (Matthiesen Fine Art, London), London 1985, pp. 70-72, no. 19;
G. Papi, Il monogrammista R.G. e un indizio per Terbrugghen in Italia, in “Paragone”, 5-6-7/551-553-555, 1996, p. 98, tab. 75;
Idem, Cecco del Caravaggio, Soncino, 2001, pp. 41-42 e p. 100, pl. XLIV;
Idem, Aggiornamenti nelle Collezioni d'Arte Carige: il monogrammista RG e il suonatore che accorda la chitarra, in “La Casana”, 44, 2002, pp. 32-33;
Idem, Il genio degli anonimi: maestri caravaggeschi a Roma e a Napoli, Milan, 2005, p. 17.