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Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings & Watercolors Part II
26 January 2011
New York, Rockefeller Plaza
Tommaso Salini, Called Mao (Rome c. 1575-1625)
The Monkey and the Cat (Aesop's Fable)
oil on canvas
60¼ x 47½ in. (153.7 x 120.7 cm.)
PROPERTY FROM THE ROSSETTO FAMILY COLLECTION
Art Market, Rome, 1926, where purchased by Giuseppe Rossetto di Alessandro, by whom brought to the United States in the late 1920s, and thence by descent.
Worcester, Massachusetts, College of the Holy Cross, The General Art Company Permanent Exhibition of Paintings by Old Masters, 1929, no. 19, as 'Murillo'.
Worcester, Massachusetts, College of the Holy Cross, on loan 1929-2010.
The subject of the present painting is taken from the ancient fable traditionally ascribed to Aesop, which recounts how a monkey and a cat, who lived in the same house, were enticed by the aroma of chestnuts roasting on the hearth. Through flattery, the monkey convinced his feline friend to reach into the fire to steal the nuts. As each chestnut was removed from the flame, the monkey quickly devoured it, leaving his friend with burnt paws and an empty stomach. The moral of the tale is one cannot trust a flatterer and there is no honor among thieves.
The figures of the monkey and the cat are repeated in another composition by Mao that was exhibited in London by Whitfield Fine Art in 2008 (Exhibition at Partridge Fine Art Ltd., London, 2008, pp. 74-76).
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