Artibus et Historiae no. 80 (XL)

2019, ISSN 0391-9064

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GIOVANNI SASSU - ‘I will never write about anyone else with more pleasure’: The Carlo Bononi by Girolamo Baruffaldi (pp. 269–286)

The reconstruction of Carlo Bononi’s career has always been based on the account by Girolamo Baruffaldi in his Vite de’ pittori e scultori ferraresi. Anyone who has studied Bononi, from Cesare Cittadella to Antonio Frizzi and up to Roberto Longhi, made reference to the biography written by the scholar in the early eighteenth century. The monograph by Andrea Emiliani in 1962 retraced its structure almost exactly: from the sequence of the works to the artist’s trips to the identities of the patrons.

The 2017 exhibition about the artist highlighted that this pattern can no longer be followed: the image of Bononi as an incoherent and often incomprehensible artist is undoubtedly due to the excessive trust granted to the testimony of Baruffaldi. Questioning the ‘source of the sources’ and the motivations of certain interpretations in the Vite, the present essay tries to extract from Baruffaldi’s biography a sort of ‘reliability index’ distinguishing the false from the true and the true from verisimilitude, in the conviction that only a cleanse from the ‘toxic’ information can advance future studies on this artist.

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