Satire on a Nobleman in Misery, between 1719 and 1725

  • Alessandro Magnasco, Italian, 1667-1749

Oil on canvas

  • 34 7/8 × 29 3/16 × 2 1/4 inches (88.6 × 74.1 × 5.7 cm)

Gift of Luigi Grassi


On View

  • European S2DD


European Painting

  • Satire
  • Scroll (information artifact)
  • Painting (visual work)
  • Sword
  • Nobleman
  • Italy

The satirical intent of Magnasco's painting of a nobleman is all too clear: while clutching his sword in one hand and a scroll bearing his family tree with the other, this gallant gentleman is seated in a room with cheap furniture and broken pottery. His meal, spread out on the bench in front of him, consists of only radishes and onions. A shadowy figure behind the man derisively holds his left hand up in an Italian folk gesture, underscoring the pitiable condition to which the nobleman has fallen. Like Don Quixote, the chivalrous character from the Spanish romance written by Cervantes early in the seventeenth century, this nobleman clings to the past for solace.

1925, (Galerie Cailleux, Paris, France)

purchased by Benno Geiger (Italy)

Dino Barozzi (Venice, Italy)

by 1931, acquired by (Luigi Grassi, Florence, Italy)

1936-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Delogu, G. Pittori minori Liguri, Lombardi, Piemontese del Seicento e del Settecento. Venice, 1931, p. 116, pl. 225. [as Un armigero.] Scheyer, E. "Paintings by Alessandro Magnasco." Bulletin of the DIA 16, no. 3 (1936): pp. 34-36 (cover ill.). Scheyer, E. "Accessions: our museum collections continue to expand." American Magazine of Art 29, no. 8 (August 1936): pp. 534-539, p. 537 (ill.). Scheyer, E. Baroque Painting in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1937, pp. 26-28, p. 28 (fig. 10) (ill.) p. 27. Alessandro Magnasco, c. 1677- c. 1749. Exh. cat., Springfield Museum of Art. Springfield, MA, 1938, cat. 4. Scheyer, E. "Alessandro Magnasco." Apollo 28 (1938): pp. 66-72, p. 71, cat. 164, pl. VI. [as Don Quixote.] Detroit Institute of Arts Paintings and Sculpture Illustrated, 3rd ed. Detroit, 1943, p. 82. Richardson, E.P., ed. Detroit Institute of Arts Catalogue of Paintings, 2nd ed. Detroit, 1944, p. 82, no. 627. [as Don Quixote.] Pospisil, M. Magnasco. Florence 1944, p. 29, pl. lxxvi. Geiger, B. Saggio d'un Catalago della Pittura d'Alessandro Magnasco. Venice, 1945, p. 30. Geiger, B. Alessandro Magnasco. Bergamo, 1949, p. 82, pl. 175. L'Illustrazione Italiana, July 3, 1949, no. 27 (ill.). Mostra del Magnasco. Exh. cat., Palazzo Bianco. Genoa, 1949, cat. 55 (fig. 59). [as Don Quixote.] De Tiepolo à Goya. Exh. cat., Galerie des Beaux- Arts. Bordeaux, 1956, p. 16, cat. 34, pl. 10. Magnoni, V. Alessandro Magnasco. Rome, 1965, pp. 24-25 (ill.). Alessandro Magnasco, 1667-1749. Exh. cat., J.B. Speed Museum and University of Michigan. Louisville and Ann Arbor, 1967, cat. 19 (ill.). Fredericksen and F. Zeri. Census of Pre-19th Century Italian Paintings in North American Collections. Cambridge, MA, 1972, p. 116. [as A Soldier at an Inn.] Franchini Guelfi, F. Alessandro Magnasco. Genoa, 1977, pp. 174-76, (figs. 116, 203). [as Satira del Nobile in Miseria.] Zauber der Medusa: europäische Manierismen. Exh. cat., Künstlerhaus. Vienna, 1987, p. 432, cat. 18 (ill.). Franchini Guelfi, F. "Alessandro Magnasco." La pittura a Genova e in Liguria dal Seicento al primo Novecento, 2nd ed. Genoa, 1987, vol. 2, pp. 325-345, p. 335 and 337 (fig. 298) (ill.). Franchini Guelfi, F., with Paolo Bensi. Alessandro Magnasco, Edizioni dei Soncino. Soncino, 1991, pp. 29-30 (fig. 10). Muti, L. and de Sarno Prignano, D. Alessandro Magnasco. Faenza, 1994, p. 210, cat. 62 (fig. 301), pl. XXXVIII. Mandel, O. The Art of Alessandro Magnasco: An Essay in the Recovery of Meaning. Florence, 1994, p. 110 n. 20, p. 191, pp. 189-196. Henshaw, J., ed. The Detroit Institute of Art: A Visitor’s Guide. Detroit, 1995, p. 190 (ill.). La Pittura di Alessandro Magnasco dalle fonti figurative e culturali alle tenebre della realtà. Exh. cat., Palazzo Reale. Milan, pp. 17-38, pp. 36, 37 (fig. 30). Franchini Guelfi, Fausta. Alessandro Magnasco, I disegni. Genoa, pp. 71, 76 (fig. 60). Bissell, R.W., A. Derstine, and D. Miller. Masters of Italian Baroque Painting: The Detroit Institute of Arts. London, 2005, pp. 9, 124-125, cat. no. 39.

Alessandro Magnasco, Satire on a Nobleman in Misery, between 1719 and 1725, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Luigi Grassi, 36.14.