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Apollo and Marsyas

Bartolomeo Manfredi, Italian, 1582–1622
Oil on canvas
Made in
Rome, Lazio, Italy, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 236
37 5/8 x 53 9/16 in. (95.5 x 136 cm)
framed: 47 5/8 × 63 1/8 × 3 1/4 in. (121 × 160.3 × 8.3 cm)
Credit Line
Friends Fund Endowment and funds given by Mr. and Mrs. John Peters MacCarthy, Phoebe and Mark Weil, and Christian B. Peper
Public Domain
Object Number
The satyr Marsyas (left), a half-man half-animal, paid dearly for his arrogance in thinking he could rival a god. He found a flute and learned to play it so well that he challenged Apollo, the ancient Greek god of music (right), to a contest. The victorious god cut off the satyr’s skin in punishment for his pride. The surprised look on Marsyas’ face, in shadow, contrasts vividly with the calm and illuminated demeanor of the god who coolly slices the creature’s flesh. It is no accident that the earthbound satyr stands before a tree, symbolic of the woodland, while the god is silhouetted against the sky. Bartolomeo Manfredi may have been a student of the Italian artist Caravaggio, from whom he adapted the close-up format of the picture and the keen attention to tactile surface qualities evident in Marsyas’ fur loincloth.
by 1628 -
Gian Luigi Mercati, Rome, Italy [1]

by 1882 - 2003
Don Gonzalo Maria de Ulloa Ortega-Montanés, 9th Count of Adanero (1833-1882), Madrid, Spain; his family, by inheritance [2]

2003/07/10 - 2004
Derek Johns Ltd., London, England, purchased at auction of "Old Master Paintings" at Sotheby's, London, July 10, 2003, lot no. 37 [3]

2004 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Derek Johns Ltd. [4]

[1] An entry dated May 17, 1628, in the Mercati family inventory records lists the painting as being in the collection at this time: "294 v. 30. Un Marsia et Apollo che lo scortica quadro d' o poco più per traverse opera di Bartolomeo Manfredi con sua cornice toccata d'oro a fogliami 70" [Cappelletti, Francesca, and Laura Testa. "Il Trattimento di virtuosi: Le collezioni secentesche di quadri nel Palazzo Mattei di Roma," Rome, 1994, p. 80]. Given that the painting was in the Mercati collection by 1628, it is possible that Gian Mercati commissioned the painting from Manfredi since the subject is considered uncharacteristic of Manfredi's oeuvre [Hartje, Nicole. "Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582-1622): Ein Nachfolger Caravaggios und seine europäische Wirkung-Monographie and Werkverzeichnis." Weimar: VDG, 2004, cat. no. A25, p. 344-47].

[2] According to the 2003 auction catalogue, the painting was purchased at one time by Don Ortega-Montanés (before his death in 1882) and remained in his family for over a century until the family consigned the picture to Sotheby's in 2003 ["Old Master Paintings: Part One," Sotheby's, London, July 10, 2003, lot no. 37, p. 96].

[3] See note [2].

[4] The purchase is documented by the invoice from Derek Johns Ltd. (August 21, 2004), the purchase agreement between the Saint Louis Art Museum and Derek Johns Ltd. (October 12, 2004), and the bill of sale (October 13, 2004) [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, September 28, 2004; and the Minutes of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, October 11, 2004.
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