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Attributed to Antonio Mercurio Amorosi (1660-1738)

The Musician c.1700

Oil on canvas | 99.7 x 74.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405548

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  • Antonio Mercurio Amorosi was born in the medieval village of Communanza, close to Ascoli in north western Italy in 1660. In 1668 the young Amorosi travelled to Rome with the intention of studying for the priesthood, but his natural aptitude for painting and an encounter in 1676 with the painter Giuseppe Ghezzi, led him to a career as an artist. He was apprecticed to Ghezzi's studio for a period of eleven years, after which he established himself as an independent artist. His earliest work, signed and dated 1690, was a Portrait of the child Filippo Ricci, now in the Weitzner collection in New York.

    In 1699 Amorosi undertook frescos for the entrance chamber of the Palazzo Comunale of Civitavecchia with scenes of Pope Innocent III Receiving the Magistrates of the City and The Madonna and San Fermo, both destroyed in 1944. In 1702 he painted an altarpiece showing Saint Gregorio and the Souls of Purgatory for the church of Santa Maria della Morte in Civitavecchia, as well as altarpieces for the  churches of San Rocco, Santa Maria in Cosmedin and Santa Maria Egiziaca in Rome.

    Amorosi's talent and originality are best exemplified elsewhere; however, in his caricature-like genre paintings of rustic or itinerant figures in the Bambocciate tradition. It is thought that Amorosi`s interest in this type of genre scene was fostered by the artistic preferences of the circle of the Spanish Ambassador in Rome, Juan Francisco Pacheco y Téllez-Girón, 4th Duke of Uceda, who was himself an important commissioner of Amorosi.

    This painting, first recorded in the Royal Collection at Kensington Palace in 1818, when it was attributed to Spanish painter Murillio, is possibly that formerly in the collection of the Barons Middleton. A mezzotint of the painting by Johann-Gottfried Haid (1710-1776) was published in 1764 by John Boydell with the inscription 'engraved from the original picture painted by Amoroso, in the Collection of the Right Honble Lord Middleton'. The misspelling of Amorosi's name in the inscription led the painting to be attributed to the eighteenth century Italian painter Gennaro Amoroso. A second version of the painting, offered for sale at Christie's on 18 February 1977, was attributed to Amorosi but does not appear to have been the Middleton painting.

    The painting appears in Pyne's illustrated 'Royal Residences' of 1819, hanging in The Queen's Closet at Kensington Palace (RCIN 922154).


    First recorded in the Queen's Closet at Kensington Palace, 1818

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas


    99.7 x 74.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    112.0 x 86.7 x 3.5 cm (frame, external)

  • Other number(s)
    Alternative title(s)

    A Man Playing a Guitar

    The guitar player

    A Spanish lute player

    Spanish boy playing a guitar

    Spanish lute player, previously entitled