The Master of Jeans
Mother Sewing and Two Children, property of the Cariplo Foundation (Milan)
The Master of Jeans. a new painter of everyday life in late 17th-century Europe
An unusual exhibition held by the Galerie Canesso under the auspices of the Italian Embassy in Paris to coincide with the Biennale des Antiquaires. The show is devoted to the recently rediscovered Master of Jeans, an Italian painter of the 17th century.
The apparently anachronistic but very fitting conventional name was put forward for this anonymous artist by Gerlinde Gruber, conservator at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and curator of the exhibition. A recurrent feature in the group of works attributed to the painter is a blue fabric whose weave of white threads displays all the characteristics of what is now known as denim or jeans, a name deriving from a 17th-century English corruption of the French toile de Gênes or “cloth of Genoa”, the place of origin. The works exhibited show this material worn by various figures in scenes of common everyday life.
The Master of Jeans produced a very small number of works. Only eight of his ten paintings are known, and these are presented here.
Mother Sewing and Two Children, property of the Canesso Gallery (Paris)
A recent addition to the corpus of recognised works by the Master of Jeans is the painting Mother Sewing with Two Children, attributed to the artist by Francesco Frangi. Two versions of this work exist, one in Milan owned by the Cariplo Foundation and the other now at the Galerie Canesso, Paris, but previously in Madrid. The painting Mother Sewing with Two Children, now owned by the Cariplo Foundation, initially belonged to the collection of Caterina Marcenaro (director of the Genoa Academy of Fine Arts), and came into the Cariplo Collection as the result of a bequest.
Attributed to Vermeer by Marcenaro, Mother Sewing with Two Children was later identified by Zeri and then by Carli and Dell’Acqua as a French work. It also attracted the particular interest of Carlo Bertelli, who made an unsuccessful request for it to be loaned to the Brera in Milan.