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The butcher stall
16th Century
The butcher stall
[La Macelleria]
Oil on canvas
112 x 152 cm  [HxW]
Galleria Nazionale di Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini, Roma

Critics are almost unanimous in considering that this painting is part of a group of works by Passerotti, which includes The Fish Stall, also in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini (see entry no. 22), The Chicken Sellers in the Longhi collection and The Chicken and Vegetable Sellers in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, which is mentioned in the Mattei inventory of 1614 and placed in the main hall of the family villa on the Celio (Testa 1995; Guarino 1996; Baldassari 2000; Guardata 2001).

The “quattro quadri del passerotto d’uccilagioni et altri pesci” were purchased from Ciriaco Mattei in April 1603 for 100 scudi by Cavaliere Marc’Antonio Pietra, according to Ciriaco’s book of accounts (Testa 1995).

In the 18th century, the paintings were transferred to Palazzo Mattei di Giove, where they were generically registered in an inventory in 1793 and again mentioned in other documents of 1809 and 1824 (Cappelletti and Testa 1994). When the collection was dispersed in the second half of the 19th century, The Butcher Stall, together with The Fish Stall was purchased by Otto Messinger and donated in 1927 to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Rome.

The autography of the painting, signed with the usual sparrow — the artist’s symbol — is unanimously agreed upon, just as it is almost universally dated to the years 1578–80.

Tullia Carratù

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