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Title 'The Judgement of Midas' (inside of a lid from a clavencembalo)
Collection Victoria and Albert Museum
Artist Vaccaro, Domenico Antonio (Italian sculptor, architect and painter, 16781745)
Date Earliest possibly about 1698
Date Latest possibly about 1708
Description This painting, which decorates the inside lid of a harpsichord, has been attributed to the Neapolitan artist Domenico Antonio Vaccaro by Nicola Spinosa (1984). The scene represents the Judgement of Midas, who had to choose during a musical context the winner between Pan and Apollo. Midas stands between Apollo wrapped into a red tunic and goat-legged Pan on the right, at whom he is pointing. Midas has ass's ears sprouting from the top of his head. Domenico Antonio Vaccaro was born in Naples where he trained in the workshop of his father and then with Francesco Solimena (1657-1747). He is best known for his activity as a sculptor, architect and set designer.
Current Accession Number 444-1887
Subject figure; mythology (Judgement of Midas; Apollo; Pan)
Measurements 86 x 185 cm (estimate)
Material oil on wood
Acquisition Details Purchased from A.W. Knapp, Winchester House, Old Broad Street, London, for 30 1887.
Principal Exhibitions Return to the Baroque; From Caravaggio to Luigi Vanvitelli, Castel Sant'Elmo, Naples, 2009-10.
Publications Nicola Spinosa, Pittura napoletana del Settecento dal Barocco al Rococo, Vol. I, Naples, 1986, p. 198, no. 198 (fig. 232); C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp.293-294, cat. no. 365A; N. Spinosa, La pittura napoletana del 600, Naples, 1984, fig. 863; R. Russel, Catalogue of Musical Instruments. Keyboard Instruments, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1968.
Notes This painting was dated by N. Spinosa (1984) to Vaccaro's early career, between 1698 and 1708, when he also produced a series of altarpieces for various Neapolitan churches and others works displaying mythological scenes. The subject matter derives from Ovid's Metamorphosis (XI). Apollo and Pan, during a musical context, asked Midas, King of Pessinus, a city of Phrygia, to choose the winner and Midas chose Pan. Furious, Apollo gave Midas ass's ears as a proof of his ignorance. The subject matter, a mythological musical context, echoes the musical function of the piece it is painted on. Vaccaro represented the god Apollo wrapped into a red tunic, his head surrounded by a halo of light, which alludes to his being also the god of the sun. Pan the satyr is leaning against a rock with putti playing in his back while Midas stands in between pointing at Midas. The whole picture displays rococo stylistic features, smoothened by the use of a Baroque palette characterised by an intense use of light and shade that creates interesting contrasts. In particular, the cool colouring of the whole is enlivened by the red tunic and the pink hues on the figures' flesh. This manner is reminiscent of the art of Giacomo del Po (1652-1726), whom Vaccaro may have followed after he preliminary trained with Solimena.

Rights Owner © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Author Ana Debenedetti



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