Giovanni Maria Scupola (Otrante, actif XV-XVI) The resurrection of Christ
Tempera on wood, cm 12 x 6
Giovanni Maria Scupola is a still little-known painter active in Otranto in the decades between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; his works, recently studied by Esther Moench (Le lettre e le trait. Propos sur Giovanni Maria Scupola, in “Bulletin de la sociétè Schongauer à Colmar” 1987, pp. 72-79) show, even at such an advanced date, a language still strongly rooted in the Byzantine tradition.
Giovanni Maria Scupola’s activity is documented in Otranto with the Bizamano brothers and it is assumed that the artist moved to Italy from Crete at the beginning of the 16th century. His works present ‘neo-Byzantine’ characters, with illustrative structures of clear narrative reading and evident Adriatic accents and in some cases, curious links have been detected with the miniature (also from Ferrara), due to the small dimensions and the strongly graphic sign, characterized by thin and stringy brushstrokes.
The Pinacoteca Nazionale of Bologna has two triptychs, while the Kolmar Museum has a signed triptych with episodes from the Passion. A panel (cm 64X50) with ‘Sixteen stories from the life of Christ’, signed EGO. IOANES. MARY SCULPOLA. DE IDRYNTO. PINXIT IN HOTRATU is kept in the Provincial Museum of Bari and dated by Clara Gelao and Belli D’Elia around 1520, because the scene with the Deposition from the cross is certainly taken from Raphael and probably known by our artist through an engraving, such as for example the one produced by Marcantonio Raimondi in 1520-1521 (P. Leone de Castris 1998, p. 58-60, n. 13). Finally, we note the triptych with ‘The Crucifixion, the Deposition and Saint Jerome’ (closed panel 16.8X11.7 cm) held at Christie’s in London in June 1987.
The small panel depicting the Resurrection is an interesting new discovery to add to this painter’s catalogue; this too is assumed to have belonged to a triptych.
The comparison of the resurrection in question with that of Bari suggests that the absence of the landscape piece is dated prior to the third decade.
A. C. Quintavalle, ‘Neo Byzantines of Puglia in Neapolitan public collections’, in ‘Japigia’, 1932, ad vocem
O. Morisani, ‘A triptych from the early 16th century’, in ‘Klearchos’, 1961, p. 12
E. Moench, ‘Propos sur Giovanni Maria Scupola’, in ‘Bulletin de la sociétè Schongaue’, Colmar 1987, pp. 72-79
P. Leone de Castris, in ‘The Provincial Art Gallery of Bari’, edited by C. Gelao, Rome 1998, pp. 58-60, no. 13