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 Pellegrini, Giovanni Antonio (Italian painter, 1675-1741) , Caesar before Alexandria

Core Record

Title Caesar before Alexandria
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Pellegrini, Giovanni Antonio (Italian painter, 1675-1741)
Date Earliest about 1724
Date Latest about 1725
Description Pellegrini was a Venetian artist who specialised in mural painting. His bright palette, fluent, almost liquid paint handling and the elegant, mannered gestures of the figures anticipate Tiepolo and the second generation of Venetian eighteenth century painters. Pellegrini worked extensively abroad and was the first Venetian artist to visit England, where he stayed for five years.

After being defeated by Caesar at the battle of Pharsalia, Pompey was killed by one of his own centurions and his head sent to Caesar on his arrival at Alexandria. Caesar, who had been a friend of Pompey, recoils in horror at the gruesome sight. Pompey's ring is held up as further proof of his murder. The story is told in Plutarch's Lives.

Current Accession Number 1965P20
Former Accession Number P.2065
Subject history (Julius Caesar, Pompey)
Measurements 129.5 x 112 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased from the Lasson Gallery with the aid of the Public Picture Gallery Fund, Charles Henry Foyle Trust and the V & A Purchase Grant Fund 1965.
Principal Exhibitions Old Masters from Birmingham, Wildenstein, London, 1970, cat. no. 22; Venetian Seventeenth Century Painting, National Gallery, London, 1979, cat. no. 54.
Publications Cannon-Brooks, P., The Connoisseur, 1965, pp. 149-53; Catalogue of Paintings in Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, 1960; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983, no. 111.
Notes Cannon-Brookes dates this to 1724-5. 'After the execution of his frescoes in the Salesianerrinenkirche in Vienna in 1726-7, there is a steady deterioration in Pellegrini's style and this cannot date from much later [...]' (Cannon-Brookes, P.,Old Masters from the City of Birmingham, ex cat, 1970).
Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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