(Florence 1666 - Rome 1724)
God Cursing Cain after the Murder of Abel
Both paintings by Luti were purchased at the posthumous sale of Berzighelli’s collection in 1724 by the Anglo-Florentine painter, dealer and collector Ignazio Hugford. In his account of Luti’s life and career published in his Raccolta di cento pensieri diversi di Anton Domenico Gabbiani in 1762, Hugford praises the two paintings as among Luti’s best works, and adds that they were later sold to an English collector. This must have been after 1746, when the two paintings were engraved for Hugford by the Venetian printmaker Giuseppe Wagner from copy drawings provided by Giovanni Battista Cipriani. (Hugford later used the prints to try and sell the paintings, for 3,000 lire, to the picture gallery of the Electors of Saxony in Dresden in 1754, without success.) By 1757 Luti’s two paintings are recorded in the collection of Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Baron Scarsdale, at Kedleston Hall. The paintings were originally intended to be hung high on the wall on either side of a niche in the Dining Room at Kedleston, but were soon moved by Robert Adam to the large Drawing Room, where they remain today.
The present sheet is the only drawing by Luti that may be persuasively regarded as a preparatory study for the painting of God Cursing Cain after the Murder of Abel. An outline drawing in black chalk, formerly in the collection of the Vicomte Villain XIII and recently on the art market in Paris, shows several differences with the final painting, and has been regarded as a study for it. However, that drawing is incised for transfer and rubbed with red chalk on the verso, and as such may have been preparatory for a reproductive engraving rather than the painting itself.
Other drawings related to the Kedleston Hall painting may be dismissed as later copies of the painting or the engraving. These include a red chalk drawing in the museum of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and a pen and wash study in the Biblioteca Reale in Turin, as well as a drawing in black chalk on blue paper in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen and a brush and wash drawing in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. A reversed drawing of this composition is also recorded in a collection in Bassano del Grappa.