Capriccio of a Busy Mediterranean Port, with figural groups possibly representing the Seven Deadly Sins, unsigned, oil on canvas, 42-7/8 x 80-3/8 in.; gilt wood frame, 50-3/8 x 87-7/8 in. [Old Masters]
Note: It is tempting to simply view this composition as a busy port scene but it is crowded with commentary on various social ills, perhaps even allegorical depictions of the seven deadly sins. This subject was often addressed in art with perhaps the most famous being Hieronymus Bosch. These are defined as "Pride", "Envy", "Gluttony", "Lust", "Anger", "Greed", and "Sloth." This composition explodes with activity where pride is seen in the various wealthily dressed and the central falconer. Envy is represented by the slave looking at the cobbler's shoes, either desiring his freedom or the shoes he wears. Gluttony is a flanking theme with a scene of revelry to the left, and the abundant fruit stand to the right. Lust is comically seen with the central equestrian group, including the white horse and other figures in various portions of the canvas. Anger is represented by the person standing, elevated, and gesturing to a crowd with obvious persuasive intent. Greed is represented by the alchemist and any number of thieves including a pickpocket taking advantage of a distracted gambler. Lastly, Sloth is represented in the sleeping male behind the slave and perhaps a couple of the gamblers, as it typically represented the avoidance of physical and spiritual work.
Provenance: M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans, Louisiana, purchased in 2015 for $210,000 (accompanied by the original receipt); The Estate of Peter H. Tillou, Litchfield, Connecticut
lined, restretched on new stretcher, thinly painted sky with rust color bole showing through from overcleaning, other areas of overcleaning, retouch; frame with resurfacing and losses