Pitocchetto Painting On Glass

Giacomo Ceruti, known as Pitocchetto, Portrait of a young countrywoman, c. 1720s-1730, 26 x 18 1/4 in., being sold at Christie’s atm

Ben Street posted this image of an extraordinary reverse painting on glass by Giacomo Ceruti, which is being offered via private sale at Christie’s. I’m sure if you ask them, they’ll tell you all about it, or you can read the extensive description at Sotheby’s which sold the painting in 2018, from the collection of Otto Nauman. [It went for $615,000, btw, twice the high estimate.]

This portrait is part of a group of four glass paintings, known in German, at least, as Hintglasmalerei (painting behind glass), in a collection in Brescia, where Ceruti worked in the early 18th century.

Beyond the fascinating technique—it had to be painted in reverse order, starting with highlights—and the way he left so much glass unpainted, and the rarity of it surviving at all, it just absolutely pops.

My bandwidth atm is sporadic, so I can’t do a all-out, tab-filling dive, but Ceruti’s other paintings do not inspire interest. Neither do most reverse glass paintings. The way this feels like neither of those is truly exceptional. Whether that’s a reason to spend half or a million dollars for it, I cannot say.