The present painting is a fine and characteristic still life by Michele Pace, called Michelangelo di Campidoglio. The use of compositional devices such as the rocky shelf in an outdoor setting, here with the inclusion of the sky, and the diagonal element, here a knife (and in other cases a cane or stick), affirms the attribution to Campidoglio.
The exuberance of the brushwork, which becomes almost abstract in passages such as the frothy watermelon pulp and the zigzag leaf at right, place this still life toward the end of the artist's career circa 1667-9. Thus is would have been painted later than Squash, peaches, apples, grapes and plums on a stone ledge and Squash, peaches, plums and grapes on a stone; and Grapes, peaches and apricots on the ground (lots 92 and 260 in this sale).
Dr. John Spike compares the present work to Watermelons, melon and peaches (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, Inv. 1447, 51.8 x 68.2 cm.), previously attributed to Giuseppe Ruoppolo and recently identified as by Campidoglio (see G. and U. Bocchi, Pittori di natura morta a Roma. Artisti italiani 1630-1750, Viadana 2005, p. 434, fig. MPC.33). Dr. Spike suggests that the close size and repetition of some of the still life elements might suggest that the pictures were conceived as pendants.
We are grateful to Dr. John T. Spike for suggesting the attribution to Campidoglio, on the basis of a transparency (written communication, 29 January 2007).