See Saint Bartholomew by Bernardo Cavallino at National Gallery

Saint Batholomew art painting

Bernardo Cavallino’s Saint Bartholomew is an awe-inspiring Baroque masterpiece that will be on display in The National Gallery this April 2023. This painting, acquired at a Sotheby’s auction in New York and costing $3.9 million, is the only life-size work of the artist to be in a public collection.

Cavallino, dubbed ‘the Poussin of Naples’ for his poetic handling of his subjects, was one of the leading Neapolitan artists of the first half of the 17th-century. No doubt influenced by Jusepe de Ribera’s naturalism as well as by Anthony van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens, Cavallino was renowned for his small, sensitive paintings. His style is characterised by harmonious colours and virtuoso brushwork with stylised compositions.

At 178.8 x 127 cm, Saint Bartholomew has been described as one of Cavallino’s best works – indeed it can be said to represent the full glory and emotionality of the Neapolitan Baroque school led by Caravaggio at its height. With its exhibition in Room 32 alongside other masterpieces from Italian Baroque artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi and Orazio Gentileschi, visitors can appreciate how vital a part this painting plays in telling the story of 17th century Italian art.

The gallery already has another work by Cavallino – Christ driving Traders from Temple – but it does not have such a grand scale nor show off with quite so much emotional power as Saint Bartholomew does. 30 years after we last saw it go on public display (at Metropolitan Museum in New York), let us rejoice now that we are able to appreciate this exquisite painting once more!