From Tiepolo to Solimena... – The Art Tribune

From Tiepolo to Solimena… – The Art Tribune

Estimated at €500 to 700,000, Francesco Solimena’s modello (he. 1) that Tajan was selling today (see the brief of 21/6/22) finally went up to 1 million euros, hammer price, or 1,207,500 € with costs. A high price to be sure, but certainly not unreasonable for a masterpiece of Neapolitan Baroque painting by one of its greatest exponents. An excellent state of conservation and a French provenance added to the importance of a preparatory work for the decoration of the sacristy of the church of San Domenico Maggiore in the city.




1.Francesco Solimena (1657-1747)

The Triumph of Faith over Heresy through the intercession of the Dominicanscirca 1704-1705

Oil on canvas – 229.5 x 93 cm

Sold at Tajan, in Paris on June 22, 2022

Photo: Cabinet Turquin

See the image in his page


Contrary to what some seem to think, we are not National Treasure extremists. This work could have been refused its export certificate, but it was quite simply possible, and certainly desirable, to simply pre-empt it by letting the auction game play. Because even if the tastes can be discussed, it is certain that this painting was the most important rediscovery of these last months, and that its acquisition for a French museum was essential. Given the hammer price, this museum should undoubtedly have been the Louvre, unless the Ministry of Culture decides to help provincial museums more.




2. Giambattista Tiepolo (1696 – 1770)

Juno among the cloudscirca 1735

Fresco transposed on canvas and mounted on wood – 350 x 210 cm.

Paris, Louvre Museum

Photo: RMN-GP/H. Lewandowski

See the image in his page


To think that a ruined and uninteresting work by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (he. 2) was acquired for 4.5 million euros and that this Solimena did not arouse the interest of the Louvre’s paintings department leaves you speechless. We will probably be told that this museum already has several works by the same artist, including a large modellothe one representing Heliodorus expelled from the temple preparatory work for the reverse of the facade of the Church of the Gesù Nuovo, also in Naples. So what ? It is probably this same mentality, comparable to that of small-scale philatelists who think only of filling boxes in their album, which made buy a large decor of Tiepolo which was missing in the Louvre, even if it was ugly and in poor condition. , and which prevents today from bringing into this museum a work that had its place there. Curiously, this is only valid for foreign painting: for French works, there is no fear of accumulating the paintings of certain artists, sometimes without any real justification.

We rarely criticize museum acquisitions because this is an area where consensus is difficult to find, and this type of initiative should not be discouraged. The Tiepolo is one of the exceptions as its purchase is scandalous, not to mention that if it is hung in the museum, it will come to take the place of many other much more interesting works. [1] But a collection is also characterized by the hollow choices, those of the works that we prefer not to buy. And to the long litany of masterpieces that should have been acquired and which are not must now be added this painting by Solimena.

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