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Title Design for an Altarpiece
Collection Royal Cornwall Museum, Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro
Artist Italian (Venetian) School
Attributed to Ricci, Sebastiano (Italian painter and draftsman, 1659-1734)
Previously attributed to Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista (Italian painter and draftsman, 1696-1770)
Date Earliest possibly about 1700
Date Latest possibly about 1750
Description This small painting appears to be a preparatory oil sketch for an altarpiece. The Virgin and Child are shown together with two soldier saints, probably Fermus and Rusticus, young Romans who were martyred for their Christian beliefs and who are venerated in north Italy. Here an angel is about to crown them with laurel wreaths, while putti hold their martyr's palms. The finished altarpiece has yet to be identified, although it is likely to have been made for a church altar dedicated to Fermus and Rusticus. The style and composition recall the work of the Venetian artist Sebastiano Ricci.
Current Accession Number TRURI:1923.100
Subject religion (St Fermus, St Rusticus, Virgin and Child, Christ, putto, angel)
Measurements 66.7 x 31.8 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by Mr A. A. de Pass 1923.
Publications Penrose, G., Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings and Miniatures in the Alfred A. de Pass Collection, Truro, 1936, cat. no. 34, p. 9; Wright, C., Old Master Paintings in Britain: An Index of Continental Old Master Paintings Executed before c. 1800 in Public Collections in the United Kingdom, London, 1976, p. 173.

Inscribed on reverse of frame, manuscript: 'by Tiepolo 18 Century Venetian School' (deleted); inscribed on strecher, pencil: '.. .[;] Sebastian Ricci Venetian 18th Century'.

Alfred A. de Pass (1861-1953) was born in South Africa, where his father and grandfather had established a business empire which included interests in shipping, guano, copper mining and sugar farming. After retiring from the family firm at age 36, Alfred pursued his interest in art collecting. For a period he lived in Cornwall, where he took an active interest in the Truro museum, then called the Royal Institution of Cornwall. In 1917 he was elected Associate of the Institution and in 1920 became its Vice-President. His gifts to the museum between 1914 and 1947 included many works of Western European fine and decorative art, including an important collection of old master drawings, as well as Oriental paintings, ceramics, metal work and textiles. For a list of Mr de Pass' donations of Western European paintings and drawings to the Truro museum up to 1936 see G. Penrose (cited below). He also donated to a number of other museums, including the National Gallery, the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, the Fitzwilliam, and the South African National Gallery.

Biographies and discussion of Mr de Pass' interests and donations may be found in: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, The De Pass Collection: Paintings, Furniture, Ceramics etc., Illustrated Catalogue, Bristol, 1936; Popham, A.E., An Exhibition of Drawing from the Alfred A. de Pass Collection belonging to the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro, London, 1957; Walker, R., The De Pass Family, unpublished dissertation, Bristol Polytechnic, 1979; Price, B.D., Biographical Notes on Alfred Aaron De Pass (1861-1952) Art Benefactor Extraordinary, Falmouth, 1982; Nail, N., ‘The Cornish curator and the cosmopolitan collector: a note on George Penrose, 1876-1951, and Alfred de Pass, 1861-1953', Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, 1993, New Series II, I, 3, pp. 277-89; Berriman, H., ‘Introduction' in M. Joannides, Exhibition Catalogue of Master Drawing from the De Pass Collection, Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, London, 1994, pp. 7-11; Tietze, A., The Alfred de Pass Presentation to the South African National Gallery, exhibition catalogue, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, 1995; Irvine, G., and T. Daniel, Japanese Collection, Royal Cornwall Museum, Cornwall, 2001.

Rights Owner Royal Cornwall Museum, Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro
Author Dr Susan Steer



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