Vincenzo Campi (Cremona 1530/35-1591)
Plate of figs with apples, cherries and a pomegranate
Oil on canvas
Canvas size: 15 3/4” x 22”
Provenance: The Silvano Lodi Collection
Exhibitions: Bayerische Staatgemaldesammlungen, Alte Pinokothek, Munich, Italian still life painting from three centuries, The Silvano Lodi collection, 27 November 1984 - 22 February 1985, no. 4; Gemaldegalerie Staatliche Museen-Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, 6 September - 27 October 1985; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Italian still life painting, from The Silvano Lodi collection, June 1994; Seiji Togo Memorial Kasai Museum of Art, Tokyo, Italian still life painting, from The Silvano Lodi collection, 28 April - 26 May 2001, no. 2; and on tour in Japan; Schloss Achberg, Ravensburg, Natura morte italiana: Italienische stilleben aus vier Jahrhunderten, Sammlung Silvano Lodi, 11 April - 12 October 2003
Literature: L. Salerno, Italian still life painting from three centuries, The Silvano Lodi Collection, exhibition catalogue (Florence, 1984), pp. 26 and 28, no. 4, with another still life as ‘a pair’; L. Salerno, Still life painting in Italy, 1560-1805 (Rome, 1984), pp. 10 and 13, fig. 3.4, illustrated; Italian still life painting from three centuries, The Silvano Lodi Collection, exhibition catalogue (Jerusalem, 1994), p. 18; Italian still life painting from three centuries, The Silvano Lodi Collection, exhibition catalogue (Tokyo, 2001), p. 39, no. 2; S. Dathe, Natura morte italian: Italienisches stilleben aus vier Jahrhunderten, Sammlung Silvano Lodi, exhibition catalogue (Ravensburg, 2003), p. 29.
The following essay was written by John T. Spike, noted art historian, author and lecturer, who specializes in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art:
The present painting is one of a small cohesive group that scholars have identified as among the earliest known Italian still lifes. Luigi Salerno was the first to recognize the importance of this Plate of figs with apples, cherries and a pomegranate, publishing it as by Vincenzo Campi in 1984 (with a pendant still life of melon and grapes also in the Lodi collection). Although a few independent still lifes (i.e. without figures) had previously been attributed to Campi, none were of sufficently high quality to attract the attention of scholars. Campi’s reputation is based on his innovative and influential production of market and kitchen scenes in which fruits, fish and poultry are given precedence over the human actors. His interest in such subjects was clearly inspired by the paintings of two Netherlandish artists, Pieter Aertsen and his pupil, Joachim Beuckelaer. Although motivated by Northern examples, Campi’s style was based on the naturalistic roots of Lombard paintings. His willingness to cast off Mannerist artificality in favor of an objective description of the sensuosity and substance of nature had a profound impact on the evolution of still life painting in Italy and in particular on a young artist born a few miles outside of Cremona in the rural town of Caravaggio.
Typical of the earliest surviving still lifes, the present painting examines the fruits one-by-one without attempting to organize them into a decorative arrangement. The viewer senses the painter’s delight in the adventure and effort to abandon the old habit of viewing nature in a generalized way. Each piece casts its own separate shadow. The resulting sense of isolation and weight account for the timeless, even ‘modern’, sensibility of this remarkable still life.