Holy Family and Figure Studies, n.d.Simone Cantarini (Italian, 1612-1648)
Born in the town of Pesaro in the Marche region of Italy, Simone Cantarini received his earliest training under local painters. However, it was the Bolognese painter Guido Reni whose work captivated him. At the age of 22, he entered Reni’s studio where, disguising his true talent, he worked as an assistant. Eventually, his skills betrayed him and the elder artist helped him in his career, though Cantarini’s arrogance meant that they soon parted ways. He went on to become a productive painter and printmaker, receiving commissions from patrons in Lombardy and Emilia. The Marchigian artist suffered greatly from his own combative personality, which came to overshadow his great talent in the minds of patrons.
Cantarini’s broadly gestural drawings show much about the artist’s process of thought. His style appealed greatly to 18th-century collectors. These drawings belonged to a series of eminent collectors, including the French royal treasurer Pierre Crozat and the Parisian banker Flury-Hérard. The latter’s 1861 sale took place less than a decade before they entered the Crocker collection.