1000px La Prédication de saint Etienne à Jérusalem de Carpaccio

 

Vittore Carpaccio's Letter to Francesco Gonzaga, 15 August 1511 

 

Vittore Carpaccio

 

Al Marchese di Mantova Francesco Gonzaga, Illmo Segnor mio : ne li passati giorni fu uno ad me incognito guidato da alcuni per veder uno Jerusalem il qual io ho facto. Unde subito da lui veduto con somma instantia procurava io gel volesse vender, imperhoche el cognosceva esser cossa de gran contento et satisfatione. Finalmente concluso il mercato cum il dar de la fede mai più e comparso. Io mo per dechiarirme de tal cossa adimandai quelli lo guidorno ; fra li quali era uno prete barbuto vestito de griso beretino, il qual assai volte l'ho veduto cum la S. V. in salla grande del Consiglio; et adimandai il nome di quel tale et conditione : me dissero esser maistro Laurentio pictor de la S. V. Per il che ho facilmente compreso dove costui voleva reuscir, et per home è parso driciar la presente ad Vostra Sublimita per dargli notitia si del nome mio, come anche de la opera. Primo Signor mio Illustre io son quello pictor della nostra Ill.ma Signoria conducto per depingere in la salla granda, dove la Sig.V.se digno ascender sopra il sollaro ad vedere la opera nostra che era la historia de Ancona. Et il nome moi è dicto Victor Carpatio. Circa il Jerusalem me prendo ardir che agli tempi nostri non ne sia uno altro simile, si de bonta, et integra perfection come anche de grandeza. La longeza de la opera e de piedi 25, la largeza è de piedi 51/2 cum tute le misure se ricercano in tal cossa. De la qual opera Zuane Zamberti so ne ha parlato alla Subl.ta V.Ben è vero che so certissimamente il prefato pictor vostro ne ha portato uno pezo non integro et in forma pichola il qual ho veduto come il sta. Credo, immo son certissimo, el non sarà ad satisfation de la S. V., imperoche de le vinti parte non sono le do. Se il nostro fusse de contento de la S. V. facendolo prima ad veder per homini de iudicio faciami una minima fede el sarà a li comandi de la S. V. La forma de la opera et de aquarella sopra la tella, et se potria voltar sopra un ruotolo sencia detrimento alcuno. Se anche el ve piacera el sia fatto de colori alla S. V. stara ad comandar et a me cum summo studio exequir. Del precio non dico imperochè il rimetto alia S. V. alia qual humillamente me ricomando. — Die XX Augusti MDXI Venetijs.

La copia de questo ho mandate per altra via acio habia recapito. De V. Sublimità humillimo Servitor Victor Carpathio pictor.

— (Archivio Gonzaga, Mantova. E. XLV. Carteggio di Venezia) in Molmenti 240.

 

My most illustrious Lord,

A few days ago someone unknown to me was brought by several others to see a Jerusalem I have done. As soon as he had seen it, he arranged that I should sell it to him, since he knew it would be greatly to his pleasure and satisfaction. Since the deal was concluded and his good faith pledged, he has never appeared again. In order to clear up the matter I questioned the people who had brought him, among whom was a bearded priest wearing a grey cap, whom I have seen a number of times with your Lordship in the great hall of the council, and I asked the name of the man and his condition. They told me he was master Lorenzo, your Lordship's painter. From which I readily understood the manner in which he wants to suceed. And so it has occured to me to write this letter to Your Sublime Highness in order to draw your attention both to my name and to my work. First of all, my illustrious Lord, I am the painter commissioned by our most illustrious Signoria [of Venice] to paint the great hall, where your Lordship deigned to climb up to the ceiling to see my work, which was the story of Ancona, and my name is Vittorio Carpaccio. About the Jerusalem, I am proud to say that there is nothing to equal it in our time for its good quality and utter perfection, and also for its size: the length of the work is 25 feet, the width 51/2 feet, with all the scale requisite for such a thing. I know Giovanni Gamberti has mentioned this work to your Highness. It is certainly very true that our said painter has carried off an entire section of this work done on a smaller scale, which I sold as it is; but I think, or rather I am quite certain, that it will not be to your Lordship's satisfaction, seeing that it is not even a tenth of the whole. If my work should be to your Lordship's liking, having first been seen by men of judgement, for the smallest pledge it shall be yours to command; both the drawing in ink [de aquarella] upon the canvas (and it can be wound on a roller without any damage if you like) and the colours according to your Lordship's command will be executed by me with the utmost study. On my own behalf I say nothing; I remit myself to Your Lordship, to whom I humbly commend myself.

15 August 1511, at Venice

The most humble servant of Your Sublime Highness

Vittorio Carpaccio, painter

 

 

REFERENCES

Bertollotti, Antonino. Artisti in relazione coi Gonzaga duchi di Mantova nei secoli XVI e XVII. 152-53. Modena: Tipi di G. T. Vicenzi e nipoti, 1885. 152-53. Free online

Molmenti, Pompeo. The Life and Works of Vittore Carpaccio. London: John Murray, 1907. 240. Free online.

Chambers, D. S., ed. “Letter of Vittorio Carpaccio to Gian Francesco Gonzaga, 15 August 1511.” Patrons and Artists in the Italian Renaissance. London: Macmillan, 122-125.

 

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