National Gallery splashes out on Cavallino’s Saint Bartholomew

The National Gallery has bought “one of the largest and most splendid works” of Italian old master Bernardo Cavallino for $3.9 million.

Bernardo Cavallino Saint Bartholomew

The work depicts Saint Bartholomew and is believed to date between 1640 and 1645. 

In it, Bartholomew is seen sitting, and holding a knife. It likely foreshadows the best-known version of the apostle’s death – that he was flayed alive in modern-day Armenia, dying a martyr. 

At the auction on January 27, London’s National Gallery won the painting at the price of $3.2 million. This marked a new record for one of Cavallino’s works. Mark Fisch, a prominent collector of Old Masters, sold it. 

Announcing the purchase, the National Gallery said they were “delighted” with the acquisition, which dated to “when the Neapolitan artist was at the height of his artistic powers.”

The fee rose to $3,922,000 when, including the buyer’s premium. The Art Newspaper reports that the work was bought “with funds from the American Friends of the National Gallery.” 

Cavallino’s Saint Bartholomew was first published in a Sotheby’s catalogue in 1988, then mistakenly attributed to an anonymous “Spanish School” artist. It sold for roughly $280,000 back then. Several dealers later, it was acquired by Fisch.


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