Aniello Falcone

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Aniello Falcone
Head of a Screaming Man in Profile, known as a Portrait of Masaniello
Red chalk, with white chalk, on laid paper.
8 7/8 x 6 3/4 inches (224 x 170 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
I, 107

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When the great collector Sebastiano Resta acquired this drawing in Naples in 1683, he added a long note on the verso explaining that it was a drawing by Aniello Falcone, which Resta acquired from the aging painter Andrea de Leoni (who had been Falcone's pupil), and that it depicted Tommaso Aniello, known as Masaniello, a fisherman who led a popular uprising against the Spanish governor of Naples in the summer of 1647. The drawing is a preparatory study, however, for frescoes that Falcone painted in the Neapolitan villa of the Flemish banker Gaspar Roomer in the early 1640s, years before Masaniello came to prominence. It seems possible that de Leoni described it as a "disegno di Aniello," by which he meant that it was a drawing by his master Aniello Falcone, but which Resta misunderstood as an indication that it was a drawing of Tommaso Aniello. While the traditional identification thus cannot be upheld, the sheet remains a brilliant example of Falcone's powerfully expressive drawing style. Moreover, the study bears an uncanny likeness to a red chalk study by Leonardo da Vinci, now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, for one of the figures in the unfinished Battle of Anghiari, and other figures in the villa Roomer frescoes derive from antiquities and from paintings by Poussin, demonstrating that Falcone used drawings to adapt important models into his own work.
Formerly attributed to Stefano della Bella.


In pen and brown ink in an old hand [probably Resta's] at lower center, Ritratto di Masaniello; on verso of lining in the same hand, Questo ritratto di Massanielo / è fatto di mano d'Andrea [Andrea crossed out] Aniello / falcone Napolitano che fù maestro di Sal.v [superscript v] Rosa, / e de batteglisti Napolitani del suo tempo, / come d'Andrea Coppola, di Pepe Piscopo, / d'Andrea de Lione, di Ciccio Napolitano delle / battaglie, e studiato dal P. Coxtere diemita [?] detto / il P. Borgognone delle battaglie, anche da / M. Angelo delle battaglie, che in qual tempo / era in Napoli, e dipinse il Mercato con li / primi [?] moti di quella gran revoluzione; quadro / suplissimo[?] in genere suo [in genere suo in superscript] che hà il M Card Spada figli del M. Illmo [mo in superscript] / Horatio; è questo è ritratto simigliantissimo, / ___ Aniello falcone era in Napoli nella / revoluzione. Era questo disegno in un / libro di disegni ch'io comperi l'anno 1683 / in Napoli da Andrea di Lione deneq[ui]to [?], a mi / disse, che il d.o [o in superscript] libro era del duca di Tarsia / vecchio. [illegible signature of one or two cursive letters]; numbered in pencil in a later hand at upper left, 1448.

Ferrante Spinelli, Principe di Tarsia; Andrea di Lione; from whom purchased in Naples in 1683 by Padre Sebastiano Resta (see Lugt S. 2992a); Sir Thomas H. Crawley-Boevey; his sale, Christie's, London, 30 July 1877 (according to Fairfax Murray); Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), London and Florence; from whom purchased through Galerie Alexandre Imbert, Rome, in 1909 by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), New York (no mark; see Lugt 1509); his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), New York.
Associated names: 

Della Bella, Stefano, 1610-1664, Formerly attributed to.
Lione, Andrea di, 1610-1685, former owner.
Resta, Sebastiano, former owner.
Crawley-Boevey, Thomas H., former owner.
Murray, Charles Fairfax, 1849-1919, former owner.
Morgan, J. P. (John Pierpont), 1867-1943, former owner.


Fairfax Murray, I, no. 107, repr.; II, Introduction, p. 2-3, pl. 68
F. Saxl, "The Battle Scene without a Hero, Aniello Falcone and His Patrons," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 3 (1939-1940): 84, pl. 15b
N. Ivanoff, I Disegni italiani del seicento. Scuola veneta, lombarda, ligure, napoletana. Venice, [1959], p. 130
W. Vitzhum, "Neapolitan Seicento Drawings in Florida," Burlington Magazine 103 (196): 314
W. Vitzhum," Le Dessin baroque á Naples," L'Oeil no. 97 (1963): 46
F. Stampfle and J. Bean, Drawings from New York Collections, II: The Seventeenth Century in Italy. New York, 1967, p. 57
A. Blunt, "A Frescoed Ceiling by Aniello Falcone," Burlington Magazine 111 (April 1969): 214-15
A. Alabiso, "Aniello Falcone's frescoes in the villa of Gaspar Roomer of Barra," Burlington Magazine 131 (January 1989): 35, fig. 50
J. Kromm, The art of frenzy: public madness in the visual culture of Europe, 1500-1850. London, 2002, p. 61, fig. 2.12

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