Manfredi takes his friends to taverns and drinking bouts and is probably the first to paint those scenes of bad life that characterize the first post-Caravaggesque generation. All of them are at that time far away from the official commissions they had yet come for, and reliable information is missing in their biographies. It is not exactly known when Valentin de Boulogne arrived in Rome but it was too late for him to meet Caravaggio.
The theme of the decisive moment when action is just rocking also applies to the great Christian dramas. Valentin seems to develop in parallel from his beginnings the themes of Christianity and of tavern life. He is professionally right since his reputation will grow at the end of his career through official orders. He died at 41 in 1632, following a drinking bout as reported by the gossips of that time.
On January 27, 2016, Sotheby's sold for $ 5.2M including premium over a lower estimate of $ 1.5M a Crowning with Thorns 146 x 107 cm painted by Valentin circa 1615. The action is shown at the very moment when the torturer leans to push the crown on the head of Christ. The young soldier makes his famous mocking.
Throughout his career the theme of the fortune teller is favored by Valentin. In the tight groups around the tavern table where the Bohemian-dressed woman entertains the naive client, the other partners are also typified : the musician, the drinker, the thief and sometimes the innocent child. In this theatrical alliance the teams can be reversed : in a version kept by the Louvre the pickpocket catches the purse of the Bohemian.
Also painted circa 1615 the oil on canvas 146 x 188 cm for sale by Sotheby's in New York on February 1 is one of the earliest versions with the Bohemian. The client is a soldier seen from the back with whom the spectator may identify himself as an expiatory victim. The thief winks at the spectator, the drinker offers a glass of wine and the lute player puts the victim's attention to rest.
It is the moment when the action will switch. This dramatic tension is reinforced by the artist in a remarkable distribution of the characters in three parallel obliques, without horizontal or vertical reference. This significant example of a dynamic use of chiaroscuro during the decade of Caravaggio's death is estimated $ 1M, lot 21.
SOLD for $ 1.93M including premium