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The fruitseller
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16th Century
Vincenzo CAMPI
The fruitseller
Oil on canvas
143 x 213 cm  [HxW]
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milano

Vincenzo Campi was trained in the family studio in Cremona, working together with his father Galeazzo and his brothers Giulio and Antonio. The Campis worked on huge decoration projects in important towns in Lombardy, including Milan (the church of San Paolo), and in their home town, Cremona (the Duomo and the monastery of San Sigismondo). Their painting took its inspiration from the latest currents of art in Italy and Europe, giving rise to a singular form of eclecticism which was then taken up in the region by many followers. In particular, Vincenzo applied to Lombard naturalism the luminism of Savoldo and the Flemish delight in still lives and war scenes. This was the distinctive feature of his art, which was more unaffected and immediate than that of his famous brothers, who tended more towards grandiloquent, precious Mannerism.

In his Fruit Seller, the painter dwells on a generous description of the baskets of fruit and vegetables, presented to the viewer by a peasant girl. The painting was part of a small cycle with at least four scenes depicting humble trades and scenes from everyday life (The Fishmongers, The Poulterer, The Kitchen), in which much of the composition consists of meticulous representation of natural elements. The illusive, almost instinctive quality of the way the details are rendered makes this an important step in the history of Italian still lives, and a fundamental precedent for the early works of Caravaggio.

Roberta Dadda

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