Pietro della Vecchia primarily worked in the tradition of Giorgione, but he also possessed the unique ability to adopt an impressive variety of styles, as needed. Likewise, he interpreted a wide range of religious and secular subjects that he often reproduced, but never in terms of proper copies, but in form of several different versions.
The present painting depicts the well-known biblical scene ‘Christ and the Adulteress’, derived from the Gospel of John. Here, Jesus contradicts the scribes who had caught a woman in the act of adultery and therefore wanted to stone her to death. The subject belongs to the typical repertoire of the artist.
The work is most likely to be dated in the artist`s mature creative period c. 1650. A similar but not identical composition by della Vecchia is part of the collection at Musée Calvet D`Avignon, France.
The canvas is relined. The paint surface is visibly cracked in the upper edge, as well as in the upper half, due to damages to the underlying canvas. Small losses of paint have been retouched, there. Further small losses of material are located at the height of the figures on the left side, between the eyes of the female figure and in the lower right corner. The paint surface shows further scattered areas of retouching and marks, where the frame has rubbed. The inspection under UV light reveals areas of retouching on the faces and hair.
Pietro della Vecchia (1602/03-1678)
Pietro della Vecchia, since the late 18th century falsely also known as Pietro Muttoni or Pietro della Vecchia Muttoni, was the son of a prominent Venetian family. His early works are deeply influenced by Carlo Saraceni and his student, which has led to the assumption that the painter may has initially been trained by them. After a possible short stay in Rome around 1621-22, he was active in the studio of Alessandro Varotari, called Padovanino, around 1625 and first familiarized with the masters of the Venetian Cinquecento, such as Titian and Giorgione. Many works by the artist can be still found in churches in Venice, as well as in important international collections, such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Louvre in Paris, the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden and the National Gallery in Dublin. (cbo)