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Kitchen still life with a hare and two partridges
Nani, Mariano
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Nani, Mariano

Naples (Italy), 1725 - Madrid (Spain), 1806

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Kitchen still life with a hare and two partridges

Ca. 1785. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

Utilising an almost photographic, frontal composition that enhances the naturalism of the image, Mariano Nani here depicts with great descriptive effectiveness the catch from a day’s hunting, which has just been tied with a piece of rope and suspended from nails hammered into the wall. We see a large hare, with white and hazelnut-coloured fur, hanging upside down by one of its hind legs, to allow the blood to drain from its body, along with two large birds whose soft dark and pale plumage, beaks and orange feet identify them as a male and female partridge.

From the earliest days of Italian still-life painting, compositions of interiors with game were made by specialist practitioners for their wealthy clientele, who appreciated the paintings as manifestations of wealth. (A notable example is the canvas depicting feathered game by the Hartford Master in the Galleria Borghese, Rome, datable between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.) This connection to still-life painting’s origins slowly diminished in the second half of the seventeenth century, when the decorative and scenographic aspects of the genre became the driving force behind its development as an art form.

Since the practice of hunting was widespread throughout Italy and almost exclusively the prerogative of the nobility, who commissioned still-life paintings for their homes in town and country, we find specialist painters in this genre throughout the Italian peninsula right up until the eighteenth century. Around Naples, the most prominent artists were Baldassare de Caro (1689-1750) and Giacomo Nani (1698-1755), the latter to whom this painting was traditionally attributed, until Jesús Urrea Fernández concluded in 1977 that the painting was the work of Nani’s son, Mariano. Urrea Fernández’s thesis is convincing, particularly when the Prado’s painting is compared with Still-life with game and a dagger, in a private collection in Naples - a work signed by Mariano at the stone base. Both share a prominent foreground, a chromatic range featuring light greys, beige and browns, as well as meticulously rendered plumage executed with tight, stippled brushstrokes applied in thick bands of colour.

Without a firm chronology for the artist’s limited number of autograph works, it is extremely difficult to date any of his canvases with certainty. Nevertheless, we believe the most likely dating for the Prado painting is between 1770 and 1780, because it displays the strong eighteenthcentury flavour the painter would have absorbed from the teachings of his father Giacomo (Dotti. D.: Italian Masterpieces. From Spain´s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, 2014, p. 232).

Technical data

Inventory number
Nani, Mariano
Kitchen still life with a hare and two partridges
Ca. 1785
Height: 69 cm; Width: 48 cm
Royal Collection (¿Palacio Real, Madrid, habitación del infante don Carlos-tercera pieza, 1814-1818, nº 409?).

Bibliography +

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Urrea Fernández, Jesús, La pintura italiana del siglo XVIII en España, Secretariado de Publicaciones de la Universidad, Valladolid, 1977, pp. 168.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Pintura española de bodegones y floreros de 1600 a Goya, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1983, pp. 168.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 460.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., La nature morte espagnole du XVII sièecle a Goya, Office du Livre ; Vilo, Fribourg, 1987, pp. 184/lám. 191.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

The Majesty of Spain. Royal Collections From the Museo del P, Mississipi Commission For Internati, Jackson,Mississipi, 2001, pp. 246.

Sánchez López, Andrés, La pintura de bodegones y floreros en España en el siglo XVIII, Fundación Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2008, pp. 617.

Dotti, D, Mariano Nani 'Kitchen still life with a hare and two partridges' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp. 232.

Other inventories +

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. ¿409?.
Habitacion del Señor Infante Don Carlos [...] Tercera pieza [...] {21830} igual [vara de alto dos tercias de ancho] una perdiz y una liebre colgadas - Nani

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 263.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 263.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 315.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 389.
Nani (Jacobo) / 389. Animales muertos. / Una liebre y dos perdices. / Alto 2 pies, 4 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 1 pie, 7 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 389.

Exhibitions +

Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court. Museo Nacional del Prado
16.05.2014 - 31.08.2014

Tha majesty of spain. Royal collections from the Museo del Prado & patrimonio nacional (La majestad de España)
Jackson MS
01.03.2001 - 03.09.2001

Update date: 31-05-2022 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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