Christ driving the moneylenders from the Temple oil on canvas 101.5 x 94cm (39 15/16 x 37in).
PROVENANCE: Palazzo Avogadro, Brescia, 1760 Acquired by the present owner's family in France approximately 50 years ago and thence by descent
DRAWING: Young girl with dove, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice (cat. D.10)
This hitherto untraced painting is the companion to The Massacre of the Innocents, which is now in a Private Collection, Milan (oil on canvas, 113 x 105 cm.) and was once part of a series of three (see F. Zara Boccazzi, Pittoni (Venice, 1979), p. 142, ill. fig. 178). We know from G.B. Carboni's record of 1760 that in the second room of the Palazzo Avogadro in Brescia there hung 'La Strage degl'Innocenti, Cristo che scaccia dal Tempio gli Ebrei, La B.V. Addolorata: tutti del Pittoni' (G.B. Carboni (e Chizzola), La pitture e sculture di Brescia (Brescia, 1760), p. 180). The present painting had also been known from a drawing by Pittoni showing the female figure with the dove to the lower left of the composition, which is now in the Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice. Both the Milan painting and the present work were copied by Anton Kern in a format which extended the composition vertically (Narodowe Museum, Warsaw, cat. S. 19 and S. 20; op. cit. figs. 179 and 180).
As well as having previously explained the purpose of Pittoni's preparatory drawing which is now in Venice, Kern's copy confirms a date of Pittoni's originals to before 1730, when the Austrian artist left Pittoni's workshop and moved back to his native Austria, thus shedding valuable light on the artist's early oeuvre, which had reached a compositional and stylistic peak as early as the late 1720s.