Provenance:Collection of Sir J. R. Coote, Earl of Mountrath, London;
Sotheby's sale, 26 October 1988, lot 31;
Alfred Scharf, Francesco Desiderio, The Burlington Magazine, January 1950, p. 22, fig. 19;
Alfred Scharf, The Fantastic Visions of Monsù Desiderio (exh. cat., Sarasota, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, February 1950), ed. by Alfred Scharf, pp. 12, 19, no. 17, pl. 20;
Félix Sluys, Didier Barra et François de Nomé dits Monsù Desiderio, Paris, 1961, p. 92, no. 65;
Maria Rosaria Nappi, François De Nomé e Didier Barra. L’enigma Monsù Desiderio, Milan and Rome, 1991, p. 196, no. A 116.
The Fantastic Visions of Monsù Desiderio, Sarasota, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, February 1950.
Further information:_François de Nomé and André Breton: reviving the visionary fantasies of a painter from Lorraine_
In his 'L'Art magique' of 1957, the leading Surrealist André Breton traced the sources of the modern movement to the art of primitive societies and the work of forgotten artists who have "something of a magical imagination". He counts among these "geniuses" François de Nomé (1593 - c. 1640), the painter from Lorraine sometimes known as Monsù Desiderio, whose work Breton rightly asserted was doomed to oblivion. Indeed, in the 1950s there was a revival of interest in his oeuvre after 'The Fantastic Visions of Monsù Desiderio', an exhibition held at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota in 1950. Breton admired the painter's "enigmatic aspect", finding parallels with the work of Arcimboldo and Antoine Caron. He cast new light on compositions that might at first glance appear to be no more than expressions of "the artist's whim or desire for pleasantries" but which were instead prompted by a completely different goal, in the Surrealist's view - "rediscovering the meaning of magic".
Within the repertoire of forms favoured by Surrealism, Breton examines the cave and the labyrinth, but the tower and the temple are also, according to him, "condensers of magic energy". The strange, visionary decoration of this 'Agrippina departing for Rome with the Ashes of Germanicus' includes various symbols of temporal or spiritual power - towers, palaces, a basilica with tall, rounded apses, Solomonic columns topped solely by sculptures, and an arched portico faceted inside and out with columns. The paintings of François de Nomé, who was active in Rome and Naples in the first decades of the seventeenth century, were very soon considered "revolutionary" with respect to the art of his contemporaries.