D. Lorenzo Pellerano; his sale, J.C. Naon, Buenos Aires, 27th August 1938, lot 350.
We are grateful to Dott. Francesca Baldassari for confirming the attribution to Munari.
After working initially in his native city as a protégé of Rinaldo d'Este, Duke of Modena, Munari went to Rome in 1703, where he soon found patronage among the leading aristocratic families. By 1706 he had moved to Florence and there he worked at the court of Ferdinand de'Medici. The opulent tastes of his wealthy clientele is reflected in the luxurious and often exotic goods found in his still lifes; for example, in the present composition, the kraak porcelain, the façon de Venise glassware and the musical instruments (the latter revealing the influence of Evaristo Baschenis). The same cello and recorder recur in a similar position in another still life by the artist (Depositi degli Uffizi, Florence, illustrated in F. Baldassari, Cristoforo Munari, Milan, 1999, p. 170, no. 64), which suggests that the artist may have actually owned the instruments. Interestingly only one of the many musical scores depicted by Munari can actually be read, which suggests he was not himself able to read music (ibid., p. 21).
In 1706 the abbot Orazio Marrini described Munari's talents, writing 'he delighted moreover in representing with lively colouring pieces of fir wood in such a way as to make one think that attached to them with pins were prints and drawings, little portraits, scissors and other suchlike implements with such lifelikeness as to astound one'. The present work is a fine example of Munari's ability to capture the subtle play of reflections and transparencies created by the careful choice and placement of objects, evident here in the rendering of the porcelain on the salver and the description of the glass and ewer. Munari used these and other motifs in numerous works, presumably as a means of exploring his interest in these effects - for example, the cup atop the upturned saucer on the salver can also be found in two other pictures (one in a private collection, Modena, the other in the Museo Civico di Palazzo Bianco, Genova; ibid., pp. 195-196, nos. 109-110), while the ewer of wine recurs in a still life in a private collection, Bergamo (ibid., p. 151, no. 29). Such artistic concerns reveal the influence of Flemish still life artists such as Jan Davidsz. de Heem and the German painter Christian Berentz, who worked in Rome in the early part of the eighteenth century.