Cristoforo Munari was one of the most successful still life painters of his day, working in Rome, Tuscany and throughout his native Emilia. Born in 1667, little is known of his early artistic training though it is assumed that it occurred in Bologna. He is first documented in 1703 in the service of Cardinal Imperiali. Although Evaristo Bascheris is usually cited as his major early influence, the work of the Milanese artist Pier Francesco Cittadini is more likely. It was, however in Rome that Munari received his strongest influence, namely through contact with the work of the German painter Christian Berentz (1688-1722). Beretz was the leading exponent in Rome of a Dutch inspired taste for still life of fine objects - crystal glasses, silver platters, Deftware etc. - arranged in a kind of genteel disorder.
Munari left Rome in 1706 for Florence where his still lifes were to be much in demand by the local nobility. An exchange of letters exists, dated 1705-1706, between the artist and Ferdinando de’ Medici of Tuscany, which contains references to paintings sent to the Duke of Modena and to Ferdinando. Orazio Marini (1706) described in detail the trompe l’oeil compositions of Munari, many in Cardinal Francesco de’ Medici’s Villa di Lappeggi. One of Munari’s paintings is known to have hung with the select pictures in the apartment of Ferdinando in the Villa del Poggio a Caiano. Munari died in Pisa in 1720 having been called to the city in 1715, to work in the Duomo in the capacity of art restorer.
The present painting is typical of Munari’s mature style as it depicts objects from his preferred repertory of motifs. These include a violoncello and bow, glassware and porcelain. Munari’s depiction of Delftware cups being turned on their side or right side up, to call attention to their outline, occurs frequently enough to constitute almost a signature, and is a main feature here too.
Dr Francesca Baldassari, who is presently writing a monograph on Munari, has seen the picture and fully agrees with the attribution. She will be publishing it in the near future.