Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Pompeo Batoni or Giovanni Pittoni?

One of the greatest joys - there are many joys so it is hard to choose just one! - of working at Basildon Park is the beautiful paintings and art that is on display that we get to enjoy.

It can be tricky though, remembering which painting is by which artist, what the titles of the different works are.  Also we get many visitors who are experts themselves and it is easy to trip yourself up and say the wrong thing.  They are usually very kind though and often willing to share information which is always lovely to learn.

In the Octagon Room, which is the drawing room, there are paintings on display by two Italian artists.  Pompeo Batoni and Giovanni Pittoni.  You have to be very careful to get them the right way round.  It has taken me a long time and I still slip up occasionally!  You can guarantee that if you mix them up the person you are speaking to knows their stuff.  It is just the way it goes!!

Today I would like to share with you the works of these artists.

The works by Pompeo Baton were all painted between 1740 and 1743 for the Court Cesare Meranda, Forli, Italy.

We do not know the date of the paintings of Giovanni Pittoni, but he lived between 1687 and 1767.

In this photo we have works by both artists.  From the bottom left, going clockwise, the works are as follows:-

St Paul - Shown carrying his sword.

St James the Less - He is holding a club of fullers staff by which he was killed.  He is said to resemble Christ due to the supposed blood relationship between them.

The suicide of Lucretia - A tragic event in the mythology of ancient Rome.  She was a virtuous woman who was raped by Sextus, son of the king of Rome.  She told her husband and father what had happened and then killed herself.  There was a rebellion and Sextus and his father were exiled.

God the Father and the Holy Spirit - God the Father is shown with a white dove to symbolise peace.  He is dramatically lit by a ray of light forming a triangular halo and the head is nobly conceived.

St John the Evangelist - Here shown with a pen and book.  His emblem the eagle is in his left hand.

All by Batoni, with the exception of The Suicide of Lucretia which is by Pittoni.

Again from the bottom left, working clockwise, the works are as follows.

St Philip - Shown with ropes and a cross on which he was martyred upside down.

St Thomas - The Patron Saint of Architects, this is depicted by the artist showing Thomas with a builders square.

Cleopatra, Mark Antony and the Pearl - Cleopatra was reputed to have boasted to Mark Antony that she could serve up a very expensive meat.  One course was only a cup of strong vinegar; she dropped into it one of her pearls, let it dissolve and drank the mixture.  Vinegar can dissolve a pearl, but only very slowly unless the pearl is crushed first.

St Peter - Show with keys because Christ has given him the keys to heaven.  The cockerel in the picture represents his betrayal of Christ.

St Matthew - Show writing his gospels with the guidance of an angel.  Matthew was a tax collector.

All by Batoni again, again with the exception of Cleopatra, Mark Antony and the Pearl which is by Pittoni.

The final painting in the room is this one, also a Pittoni, it is called Venus giving arms to Aeneaus (Mars and Venus).  Mars was a lover of Venus.  He gives her his sword to show he has been conquered by love; Venus is sending away the blindfolded Cupid - his help is not needed.  The Renaissance depicted the relationship between Mars and Venus as an allegory of strife overcome by love.  Sometimes such paintings commemorate a betrothal.

I hope that you enjoyed learning some more about these paintings and getting to see them!

I am joining with Barbara at Coastal Ripples for Paint Monthly - sorry to be late Barbara!



  1. Now that is some seriously impressive art. Great paintings, I am hoping to see them for real one day.

  2. Fabulous Amy to be surrounded by this wonderful display of art daily. I quite envy you!!! I admire classic art more than contemporary. This does not mean I am knowledgeable about it far from it.... I just know what I like! I marvel at the colours used and the detail....... so lifelike...sigh!!! I remember a particular painting in the National Gallery which I used to sit and look at during my lunch breaks. Just sitting admiring and each time I always saw something more. This was a long time ago but as I recall it was called "Execution of Lady Jane Grey";by Paul Delaroche. Impressive!!!

    keep well

    Amanda x

  3. They are fabulous paintings, Amy & you have done really well to remember all the names & dates!

  4. I had never heard of those artists and your post was so full of great info. I'd slip up, too. I can never keep things straight but I try. You must enjoy your work a lot. I think it would be fun.

  5. I've enjoyed looking at these paintings and learning a bit about them and the artists who painted them. Your job in Basildon Park is so interesting and it's so nice to hear how much you enjoy it. X

  6. I enjoyed getting to know these artists, Amy. A great post.

  7. Beautiful paintings something Mac and I both enjoy. I often will see one I like and ask Mac to paint it, sometimes he will.

  8. Lots of talent and symbolism on display in those paintings. I am glad that they are a part of your Basildon experience. There's an expert in every crowd! Keeps you on your toes I am sure.

  9. I was a docent in a museum some years ago, and loved when the school kids came for a visit. They were fascinated by the modern art.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing these.

  11. Beautiful paintings. Im curious..the curtains in the next room are yellow in one photo and blue in the next .. ???Why is this?

  12. Lord, I'd be tripping over my tongue and muddling them all up! I've been looking at paintings again recently (funnily enough I just blogged about it!). So much pleasure to be had in artworks. It must be great to work in a historic house. BTW, I took your advice about the shawl and have been wearing it- thank you, dear Amy XX

  13. Thank you for posting again Amy. It must be wonderful to work in a place like Basildon Park and be surrounded by such awesome paintings. I know very little about either artist so I'm off to look them up. I would definitely be a Mrs Malaprop if I had to say their names correctly :) B xx

  14. What lovely surroundings to spend your time. Jo x

  15. I don't know much about art but isn't it great that you can read a blog post like this and learn something new? I'm sure you've been introduced to lots of wonderful things at Basildon Park.

  16. Crumbs they are a bit too similar in name aren't they! Great to see the paintings though. x

  17. Wow! Amazing art work Amy. And I have no idea how you keep all of that straight. Lol

    Thanks for sharing. ;) xoxo

  18. Crikey, I have to pinch myself to realise that paintings like that were done so long ago. Thanks for the art history lesson. Take care.

  19. We are lucky that these amazing artworks are held by the NT for so many people to enjoy. I think I've told you my story about Lady Iliffe hosting post-Church/pre-luncheon drinks in the Octgon room and the NT house steward having to tactfully move everyone on as the house was open for the afternoon. Honestly, Lady I was having none of it and would gave carried on partying all afternoon I think. She was charming and didn't really differentiate between her guests and the NT visitors.

  20. What an amazing place to work. I love visitng NT houses you never know what they have in store for you. I particularly loved seeing the Cannalettos at Tatton Park.

  21. What a fabulous collection of paintings from a great period of art history Amy. Someone really had an eye for the Italian masterpieces. It would be tricky not mixing up the names, which would trip me up too. Thank you for sharing them. xx

  22. What an amazing place to work at, so many treasures to see and learn about.

  23. Oh how I love to wander and appreciate good art. What a blessing to be able to view those amazing painting in person!

  24. What beautiful paintings. You are lucky to work somewhere with such glorious art, but I'm sure I'd get confused too! xx

  25. We once went to an art gallery when my children were little. My then 5 yo little boy thought the boobies on show were hysterical and raucously laughed his head off all the way round. I got tut tutted at by so many art admirers!!


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