Studio of Vincenzo Campi
Cremona 1536 - 1591
a merry peasant couple eating from a bowl of beans, the woman holding a crying baby with a cat scratching its leg
oil on canvas
81.5 by 62.5 cm.; 32 by 24 1/2 in.
The composition is thought to follow a lost painting by Campi. Francesco Paliaga (Vincenzo Campi, Soncino 1997, p.p. 203-4, no. 89) considers that the original, of horizontal rather than vertical format, may have been that formerly in the collection of the Antwerp merchant Cornelis van der Geest (1555-1638), and depicted by Willem van Haecht (who was also Van der Geest's curator) in his depiction of the collection entitled Alexander visiting the studio of Apelles of circa 1628-30, now in The Hague, Mauritshuis (inv. no. 266, detail reproduced in F. Paliaga, op. cit., fig. 64). If this were the case then Campi's original would have been in
the North from a very early date. Apart from the present painting Paliaga (op. cit., pp. 203-4, cat. no. 89, plates xl and xli, figs. 19,20) lists further versions in the Szepmuveszeti Museum, Budapest (inv. n. 50:28), and private collections in Rome and Bergamo, all of which he considers to be copies. In addition to these, there is a closely related pen and ink drawing in the Museo Civico, Bassano del Grappa, once thought to be autograph but now considered a copy (idem., p. 231, fig. 19). The figures also appear separately on either side of Campi's Fish-Sellers, one of five large canvases now in Schloss Fugger, Kirchheim (idem., p. 177, no. 29, p. 230, fig. 17). The composition was also engraved, in reverse, by Bernard Picart, entitled 'Le Mangeur de lentille' and apparently derived from a painting in Picart's own collection in Amsterdam.