About This Artwork

Salvator Rosa
Italian, 1615–1673

Polycrates and the Fisherman, c. 1664

Oil on canvas
28 1/2 x 38 13/16 in. (73 x 98.6 cm)
Inscribed at lower right: SR (in ligature)

Wentworth Greene Field Memorial Fund, 1942.291

Salvator Rosa developed a kind of dramatic landscape in which nature is presented as wild, dangerous, and filled with striking effects of light, broken trees, jagged cliffs, and dark grottoes. A native of Naples, Rosa settled in Rome in 1649, producing dramatic works that are regarded as counter-parts to the calm, classical landscapes of Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin. Rosa's dark style is well suited to the subject of this pair of paintings; they recount an episode from the Greco-Persian Wars as told by the ancient Green historian Herodotus. The ruler of the island of Samos, Polycrates, had been blessed with remarkable good fortune. In an effort to ward off a reversal of fortune, he cast a precious ring into the sea, but it was returned to him, swallowed by a fish. His good fortune came to an end, however, when he was entrapped by Oroetus of Sardis and put to death.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, Schaeffer Galleries, Gem of Baroque Painting, 1942, no. 30.

New York, Durlacher Brothers, A Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Salvator Rosa 1615–1673, 1948, no. 2.

Grand Rapids, Michigan, Art Gallery, Old Master from Midwestern Museums, 1948–49, no. cat.

Flint, Michigan, Flint Institute of Arts, A Survey from Giotto to the Impressionists, 1949, no. cat.

Pasadena, California, Pasadena Art Institute, Baroque Exhbition, 1950, no. cat.

Winnipeg Art Gallery, Exhibition of Favorite Italian and Spanish Masters of the 17th and 18th Centuries (The Baroque Era), 1951, no. 21.

Wellesley, Massachusetts, Wellesley College Museum, Salvator Rosa in America, 1979, no. 11.

Publication History

Frederick A. Sweet, “Two Canvases by Salvator Rosa, “ Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 3 (1942), p. 100 (ill.).

“Report for the Year 1942,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 37 (March 1943), pt. 3, pp. 7, 157.

Sol A. Davidson, “Twin Rosa Canvases Acquired by Chicago,” The Art Digest 17 (February 15, 1943), p. 15 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, An Illustrated Guide to the Collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1945, p. 29.

The Art Institute of Chicago, An Illustrated Guide to the Collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1948, p. 26.


The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago, 1961) p. 403.

Luigi Salerno, Salvator Rosa, Milan, 1963, pp. 52, 112–13, no. 54 (ill.).

A[lfred] M[oir], Art In Italy, 1600–1700, exh. cat., pp. 141–142, under no. 157.

Richard William Wallace, “The Figure Paintings of Salvator Rosa,” Ph. D. diss., Princeton University, 1965, (Ann Arbor, University Microfilms), pp. 80, 82–89, 157, fig. 50.

Richard William Wallace, “Salvator Rosa’s ‘Death of Atilius Regulus’,” Burlington Magazine 109 (1967), p. 396.

Richard William Wallace, “Salvator Rosa’s ‘Justice Appearing to the Peasants,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institute 30 (1967), p. 432.

Peter A. Tomory, Salvator Rosa: His Etchings and Engravings After His Works, exh. cat., (John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, 1971), n. p., under. No. 23.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections (Cambridge, Mass., 1972), pp. 177, 482, 571.

Richard Wallace, Salvator Rosa, 1973, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London 1975, p. 62, under no. 102.

A[ndor] Pigler, Barockthemen : eine Auswahl von Verzeichnissen zur Ikonographie des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, 2nd ed., Budapest, 1974, p. 415.

Mario Rotili, Salvator Rosa incisore, Naples, 1974, pp. 101–102, 224, under no. 104.

Luigi Salerno, L’opera completa di Salvator Rosa, Milan, 1975, pp. 101–102, no. 214 (ill.), pl. 59.

Michael Mahoney, The Drawings of Salvator Rosa, New York and London, 1977, I, p. 115.

Wendy Wassyng Roworth, “Pictor Succensor”:A Study of Salvator Rosa as Satirist, Cynic and Painter, New York and London, 1978, p. 346, fig. 55b.

Ubaldo Meroni, Lettere e altri documenti intorno alla storia della pittura, Giovani Benedetto Castiglione, detto il Grecchetto, Salvator Rosa, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Fonti per la storia della pittura e della scultura antica, VIII, Monzambano, 1978, p. 89.

Luigi Salerno, Landscape Painters of the Seventeenth Century in Rome, Rome 1977–78, vol. 2, p. 550.

John T. Spike, review of Wellesley College Museum, Salvator Rosa in America, in Burlington Magazine 121 (1979), p. 543.

Giulia de Marchi, Mostre di quardri a S. Salvatore in Lauro (1682–1725), stime di collezioni romane, note e appunti di Giuseppe Ghezzi, Miscellanea della Società Romana di Storia Patria, Rome, 1987, pp. 392–93.

Monica Preti in Il Seicento Fiorentino. Arte a Firenze da Ferdinando I a Cosimo III, exh. cat. Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 1986, p. 158.

Monica Preti in La pittura in Italia: Il Seicento, Milan, 1988, vol. 2, p. 868.

Laura Muti and Daniele de Sarno Prignano, “L’avventura artistica di Antonio Francesco Peruzzini creatore e artefice della pittura moderna di paesaggio” in Antonio Francesco Peruzzini, exh. cat. Ancora Mole Antonelliana, 1997, p. 19, fig. 2.

Jonathan Scott, Salvator Rosa. His Life and Times, New Haven and London, 1999, pp. 153–6, 181, 185, fig. 194.

Andreas Stolzebburg et al., Salvator Rosa : Genie der Zeichnung : Studien und Skizzen aus Leipzig und Haarlem, exh. cat., Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig, 1999, p. 184, ill.

Ownership History

Bonaventura Argenti (died 1697), Rome; by descent to Argenti’s heirs, Rome 1697 to 1698 [“Due quardri da Quattro palmi in circa, con due Historie di Policrate cornice dorata di Salvator Rosa, 250 Scudi“ (Two pictures, each about four palms across, with two histories of Policrates framed in gold by Salvator Rosa, 250 Scudi); Giuseppe Ghezzi, “Quadri delle case de Prencipi in Roma,” 1686–1717, MS. 93, Palazzo Braschi, Rome, c. 283; published by Meroni 1978, p. 89 and de Marchi 1987, pp. 384, 392–93]; consigned for sale to Giuseppe Ghezzi, Rome, about 1698 [see Ghezzi 1686–1717 cited above]. Probably 2nd Earl of Warwick, (Warwick Castle) by 1801 [auction of June 1, 1801 at Christie’s, bought in; see Fredericksen and Zeri 1972]. Schaeffer Galleries, New York, 1942 [see New York 1942, no. 30]. A. F. Mondschein, New York by 1942; sold to the Art Institute, 1942.




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