Vincenzo Camuccini (22 February 1771 – 2 September 1844) was an Italian painter of Neoclassic histories and religious paintings. He was considered the premier academic painter of his time in Rome.
Camuccini was born in Rome, and first educated by his brother Pietro, a picture-restorer, and Pietro Leone Bombelli, an engraver. He also received training with Domenico Corvi. Until nearly the age of 30 he mainly dedicated himself to copying old masters.
As an original painter, Camuccini belongs to the Neoclassicist school fostered in Rome by Anton Raphael Mengs. Camuccini’s first major independent work, completed around 1798, was a large canvas of the Death of Caesar. This led to the assessment that Camuccini may have been influenced by Jacques-Louis David’s classic Roman themes and style; but it is more likely both were emerging from the rising Neoclassic refocus towards images of and derived from Greco-Roman themes.
In 1800, he was commissioned an Incredulity of St. Thomas (copy of mosaic) by the Vatican. In 1806, Gaspare Landi received a commission for two large canvases for the chapel of the Madonna of the Rosary in the church of San Giovanni in Piacenza. Ultimately, the commission was split with Camuccini who painted a Presentation in the Temple. The canvases by the two artists were completed in the early spring of 1806, and were exhibited side by side at the Pantheon at Easter of that year.
A few years later, he was invited to Munich and Paris, the latter government had requested a painting on the Battle of Ratisbon, but he asked and obtain other topics. In Paris, he met Napoleon, David, Perodet, Gros, Regnault, and M. Gérard.
Death of Caesar by Vincenzo Camuccini.
Of pictures on classic Greco-Roman history were:
Romulus and Remus.
Departure of Regulus for Carthage.
Death of Virginia.
Continence of Scipio.
Death of Caesar.
He also painted:
Incredulity of St. Thomas reproduced in mosaic in St. Peter’s at Rome.
Presentation in the Temple for San Giovanni at Piacenza.
Death of the Magdalen.
The Entombment painted for Charles IV of Spain.
Apparition of Christ in Limbo (1829)
Conversion of St. Paul (1834) for the basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura in Rome.
Romolo and Remo’s discovery
He also painted a Betrothal of Psyche, and, jointly with Landi, he painted, in fresco, the ceiling of the Torlonia Palace.
As a portrait painter he attained considerable eminence; among the best he produced are those of Pope Pius VII (now in the Gallery at Vienna); the Comte de Blacas, Ambassador from France to the Holy See; the King of Naples; and the Queen of Naples; The Countess Sehouvaloff; and the Countess von Dietrichstein (1829). Several of his works were engraved by Pietro Bettelini, and some have been lithographed by Giovanni Scudellari, and published under the title of I Fasti principali della Vita di Gesú Cristo, with text in Italian and French at Rome, in 1829. Camuccini was appointed inspector-general of the Museums of the Pope, and of the Factory of Mosaics, and director of the Neapolitan Academy of Rome. He was a member of the Institute of France, during some years president of the Academy of St. Luke. Pope Pius VII conferred upon him the title of Baron, with hereditary succession, and the Emperor Francis I the order of the Iron Crown. In 1829, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Honorary member. He died at Rome in 1844.
He expended no small portion of his wealth in the purchase of a fine collection of objects of art. in 1856, the greater portion of the pictures, upwards of seventy in number, were purchased being bought by the duke of Northumberland, who removed them to Alnwick Castle. They consist principally of the works of the Italian masters living in the 16th and 17th centuries, with some specimens of an earlier date, and a few others of the Dutch and Flemish painters of the 17th century. He purchased a Raphael, known as Madonna of the Pinks.
On September 9, 1833, excavations at the Pantheon brought to light the tomb of Raphael, and Camuccini was commissioned to draw the archaeological discovery, which he did with religious precision, as if a new holy martyr, but this time for art, had been discovered.
Camuccini was born in Rome in 1773. After being taught by his brothers who were themselves artists, Vincenzo became a pupil of Corvi studying the great Italian masters. Camuccini painted his first great painting, the Death of Caesar at the age of 24. After being commended on this work, Camuccini undertook to create a series of classical paintings on subjects taken from the history of ancient Rome. In addition to the Death of Caesar, the series included The Death of Virginia, The Departure of Regulus for Carthage, The Continence of Scipio, Horatius Cocles, Roman Women Offering Their Jewellery in Defence of the State and others. It was at this time that Cammuccini likely painted several of the recently discovered pieces including the Camuccini discovered by Bonham’s in London in April 2004. Moreover, this painting is considered a much more artistically developed and seasoned work than the work entitled Curio dentato rifiuta i doni dei sanniti sold by Sotheby’s Milan Italy in May 2008 ($9,339) (& Prior Sotheby’s London July 2001). A similar sized Camuccini painting (Group of Female Mourners) was by Sotheby’s in London for $9,167, and the Nagyhazi Galeria es Aukcioshaz, Budapest for $14,144.
Vincenzo Camuccini had a very notable painting style and palette. Most of his Roman history and religious paintings have similar Roman architectural backgrounds. The present painting’s background also includes very similar Roman architecture to many of Camuccini’s paintings. The figures in the work exhibit much of the same emotion and gestures of Camuccini’s Death of Caesar, with a striking similarity in the painting style of the figures heads (both profile and angled). In addition, the robes and headwear of the primary figures are a strong indicator that the work was painted by Camuccini. For example, Camuccini’s Portrait of Klementyna Ostrowska née Sanguszko (1822) uses the same period headwear as in the present work, both wearing a blue eastern looking turban style hat. Its likewise unmistakable that the customary Camuccini’s palette was used in the present painting. In fact, the same color combinations, as well as similar blue’s, yellows and reds can be found in La comunione degli apostoli (Sold at Sotheby’s Milan in June 2004), Belisarius sold by Bonhams April 2004, and Let the Children come unto Me, a Modello, sold by Christies Netherlands in May 2000.
Neoclassicism was driven by two factors: 1) a reaction against the more ostentatious Baroque art and frivolity of Rococo school of art; and 2) the discovery of Roman ruins at Herculaneum and Pompeii (1738-50), along with publication in 1755 of the highly influential book Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works of Art, by the German art historian and scholar Johann Winckelmann (1717-68). All this led to a revival of neoclassical painting, sculpture and architectural design in Rome, Italy which then spread throughout Europe. As with many of the early Neoclassical paintings, this painting includes an architectural background reminiscent of Roman or Greek ruins. Similar backgrounds can be seen in both the Oath of the Horatii and The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David.