Baldassarre De Caro (1689 – 1750)

Raptor with turtle, frog and snake

Oil on canvas, cm 50 x 76 

Signed lower right: "BDCaro"

Expertise  Prof. Alberto Crispo

Baldassarre De Caro  (Naples, 1689 - 1750)

:

Baldassarre De Caro (Naples, 1689 - 1750)

Raptor catches a pigeon, turtle, frog and snake

Oil on canvas, cm 50 x 76 

Signed lower right: "BDCaro"

Expertise  Prof. Alberto Crispo

Born in 1689 in Naples, Baldassarre De Caro (Naples, 1689 - 1750) was a painter mainly of still lifes, game and floral arrangements, a pupil, according to biographer Bernardo De Dominici (The lives of Neapolitan painters, sculptors and architects, Naples 1742, III, p. 577)of the artist Andrea Belvedere, "... from whom [Belvedere] first learned to paint flowers, of which many natural paintings with freshness and mastery painted".

Over time, De Caro’s stylistic orientations underwent various changes under the influence of the models of Dutch and Flemish painting of the previous century (Otto Marseus van Schrieck, Jan Fyt, Frans Snyders, Abraham Bruegel) and the animalistic tendency of the last Giuseppe Recco, coming to favor as subjects especially fed groups of game. Also the pictorial line changed register, aligning with the dominant trends that inspired the production of the circle of Francesco Solimena: dark colors, dense shadows alternating with patches of light, heavy chromatic mixtures, twilight atmospheres.

Extremely prolific painter, his style, still linked to the manner of the Spanish "bodegon", was particularly appreciated and requested by the Neapolitan nobility of the eighteenth century and the Bourbon court, as evidenced by the numerous works preserved in the Neapolitan museums of Capodimonte and San Martino, the Royal Palace of Caserta and the Museo Correale of Sorrento, the Cavestany collection of Madrid, as well as in various private collections.

The work under consideration, an oil on canvas signed on the bottom right on a stone "BDCaro", reproduces with extreme realism and skill every single detail, from the plumage of the raptor and the pigeon to the turtle shell, to the slimy back of the frog. The composition, which develops horizontally, is characterized by a strong dynamism and a dark palette, with a strong predominance of brown, gray and dark green. The artist’s hand here decides to immortalize a moment of animal struggle: in a wild and wooded background lies the feathered corpse of a pigeon, on which stands fiercely with its claws the raptor winner with wide wings. The majesty of this bird has meant that it was adopted as a symbol since ancient times by the most varied cultures, assuming meanings linked to power and victory, triumph. As witnesses there are two other animals, expertly made, a turtle and a frog, the first symbol of tenacity, resilience, strength, but also longevity, the second of fertility and metamorphosis, while on the right, partially covered by a bush, hides a snake twisted on itself. 

The canvas was originally designed in pendant with another, also signed, depicting two birds of prey, dead birds and a snake, as shown by the cards of the two paintings published in the catalog of the Fototeca Zeri of Bologna (nn. 87207 and 97206).

Specific References

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