This little exhibition focuses on a relevant significant painting, Judith Beheads Holofernes, attributed by most experts to the Flemish artist Louis Finson (Brugge ante 1580 – Amsterdam 1617).
Finson worked in Viceregal Naples also as a collector and intermediary of artistic products during the crucial years when Caravaggio lived there too.
The painting was acquired by the Banco di Napoli and now belongs to the Intesa Sanpaolo collection. It has recently been thoroughly restored, which emphasized its dignity as an original masterpiece as well as its documentary value.
The presentation of the restored work provides the opportunity to verify all hypotheses of attribution and to reconsider Finson’s role in the Neapolitan context, since he was among the main artists that conveyed Caravaggio’s style.
As it is well-known in the scholarly field, Judith Beheads Holofernes constitutes a faithful- and heretofore unique – transcription of an original painting by Merisi now lost, i.e. that Holofernes with Judith mentioned by the painter Frans Pourbus in 1607 in Finson’s atelier.
The painting can be compared with two major reference works: the monumental Annunciation which the Flemish painter finished in 1612 (now kept in the Museo di Capodimonte – it is the only painting by this artist which can still be admired in Naples), and the remarkable Crucifixion of Saint Andrew from the Musée des beaux-arts in Dijon, which is another copy of the renowned altar painting by Merisi from the Cleveland Museum that can be attributed to Finson.
The gathering of the three works testifies to Finson’s complex figurative education: the ideal reconnection to Saint Orsola’s Martyrdom in the prestigious setting of Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano suggests further investigation into the early development of Naturalism in Naples.