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Domenico Fetti
The Veil of Veronica

c. 1618/1622
oil on panel
original panel: 80.6 x 66.3 cm 31 3/4 x 26 1/8 in
Ferdinando Gonzaga, 6th duke of Mantua [1587-1626], by 1627; [1] by inheritance to Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga, 10th and last duke of Mantua [1650-1708], in Mantua 1706, and Venice 1709; [2] Pierre Crozat [1665-1740], Paris, by 1728; [3] by inheritance to his nephews, Louis-François Crozat, marquis du Châtel [1691-1750], Paris, and Joseph Antoine Crozat, baron de Tugny [1696-1751]; (Crozat collection sale, Paris, 15 June 1751, no. 119); [4] Charles Cressent [1685-1768]. [5] Possibly Adolphe Thiers [1797-1877], Paris. [6] (Ehrich Gallery, New York), in 1925. [7] Arthur L. Nicholson, Bournemouth, in 1935. [8] (Paul Drey, New York); purchased 1943 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1952 to NGA.

[1] The 1627 inventory has been most recently published in Lettere e altri documenti intorno alla storia della pittura. Raccolte di quadri a Mantova nel sei-settecento (Fonti per la storia della pittura 4), Monzambano, 1976: 25. The relevant entry reads "il sudario di Nostro Signore di mano del Sig. Perfetti." As Pamela Askew has suggested, this is most likely a mistranscription of "per (mano di) Fetti" and not a reference to the "prefetto delle fabbriche," Anton Maria Viani (letter of 14 October 1990, NGA curatorial files). Eduard Safarik, Fetti, Milan, 1990: 241, also admits this possibility.
[2] For the painting's inclusion in the 1706 Mantua inventory and the posthumous 1709 Venice inventory, see the reference cited in note 1, Lettere e altri documenti 1976: 51, 60, as well as Martin Eidelberg and Eliot W. Rowlands, "The Dispersal of the Last Duke of Mantua's Paintings," Gazette des Beaux-Arts 6 pér., 123 (1994): 217-218, 269, fig. 10. Following the fall of Mantua to imperial troops in 1707, Ferdinando Carlo went into exile first in Venice and later in Padua, where he died intestate. While the Venetian courts attempted to determine Ferdinando Carlo's legal heir, his art collection was exhibited in one of his Venetian properties, the Palazzo Michiel dalle Colonne. Those works not confiscated by disgruntled heirs during transport to Venice or ceded to the declared heir, Charles of Lorraine, were sold on the Venetian art market, as recounted by Frances Vivian, Il Console Smith, Mercante e collezionista, Vicenza, 1971: 8-9.
[3] Crozat seems to have purchased most of his paintings by 1726 and is listed as the owner on the engraving by Charles Simonneau (1645-1728) in the Recueil d'Estampes d'après les plus beaux tableaux et les plus beaux dessins qui sont en France, 2 vols., Paris, 1729-1742: 2:106. On Crozat's collection see Margaret Stuffmann, "Les Tableaux de la collection de Pierre Crozat. Historique et destinée d'un ensemble célèbre établis en partant d'un inventaire après décès inédit (1740)", Gazette des Beaux Arts 6 pér., 72 (1968): 29-32. The Veil of Veronica is no. 113 in Crozat's posthumous inventory (1740), quoted in Stuffmann 1968, 67-68, no. 89.
[4] The sale was organized by the surviving brother, Louis-Antoine Crozat, baron de Thiers [1699-1770]. In the Catalogue des tableaux et sculptures...du Cabinet de M. le Président de Tugny e celui de M. Crozat, prepared by Mariette, the painting is listed in the group of works owned by "M. Crozat," and not in the group owned by Joseph Antoine Crozat, baron de Tugny, as is often erroneously stated. Stuffmann 1968, 33-35, has demonstrated that the "M. Crozat" in question is in fact Louis-François and not Pierre. Pierre Crozat's will stipulated that if Louis-François were to die without issue, the inheritance should pass to Louis-Antoine Crozat, baron de Thiers; however, marginalia in the NGA microfiche copy of the 1751 catalogue give Louis-Antoine as the purchaser, and thus not the owner, of several paintings.
[5] Stuffmann lists Cressent as the purchaser, presumably on the basis of an annotated copy of Mariette's sale catalogue. The painting does not appear in the sales or inventories of Charles Cressent published by Marie-Juliette Ballot, "Charles Cressent, sculpteur, ébéniste, collectionneur," Archives de l'art Français, ser. 4,10 (entire issue, 1919).
[6] According to the catalogue of the 1925 exhibition at Ehrich Gallery that included the painting. However, the Veil does not appear in Charles Blanc's catalogue of Thiers' collection, which was given in toto to the Louvre by his sister-in-law (Blanc 1884). Although Thiers' collection consisted mainly of casts, copies, and porcelain, it did include a few paintings, making it possible that he owned Fetti's Veil of Veronica at some point, but sold it before his death. However, it is also possible that the Ehrich Gallery catalogue simply confused Crozat's nephew, the baron de Thiers, with the later collector because of the similarity in name.
[7] The painting is described as attributed to Velázquez in the 1925 exhibition catalogue, a puzzling statement as the catalogue lists the Simonneau engraving, which identifies Fetti as the painter.
[8] Lent by Nicholson to 65th Church Congress Exhibition, Bournemouth, England, 1935, no. 106.
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