Announcing the Linder Gallery Prize

Ron Cordover Artist, Mysterious Masterpiece, Patron, Provenance 3 Comments

Can you help discover who painted the Linder Gallery?

Much evidence has been uncovered about the origins of the Linder Gallery over the past fifteen years. We now know with reasonable certainty that the painting was commissioned by German merchant Peter Linder and that it involved significant intellectual input from Urbino mathematician Mutio Oddi. It appears to have been painted between 1622 and 1629; and it seems that intellectual exchanges between artists in Antwerp and scientists and intellectuals in Milan played a key role in its creation. Linder resided in Milan during this period and it is likely that he previously traveled to Antwerp where his likeness appears (along with those of Peter Paul Rubens and, possibly, Anthony van Dyck) in the study drawing for the painting. We know where the painting was in the mid-17th Century and from the mid-19th Century to the present. However, we are still far from certain of the identity of the artist (or artists) responsible.

A 10,000 euro prize, the Linder Gallery Prize (the “Award”), has been established for the discovery of documentary evidence which leads to the certain attribution of the painter of the Linder Gallery.

The jury which will decide the winner or shared winners of the Award will be composed of Ronald H. Cordover (private collector, New York, New York), Michael John Gorman (Director, Science Gallery, Dublin, Ireland), and Alexander Marr (University Lecturer in the History of Art, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England). Its decision on granting all or part of the Award shall be considered final and not subject to dispute, and by participating each person or persons submitting information shall confirm this element of the Award process.

The prize has been created to further appreciate the commerce in ideas during the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century and the roles played by artists and scientists in the wider dispersal of these ideas; to better understand the mechanisms for the exchange of information between Antwerp and Milan at the beginning of the 17th Century; and to discover additional provenance for the Linder Gallery Interior from c.1640 in the Linder family to c.1850 when it appears in the collection of Baron Anselm von Rothschild. We believe that research leading to the certain attribution of the Linder Gallery painting will aid in better understanding these matters.

As those of you who are familiar with this site know, clear evidence suggests that the Linder Gallery Interior painting was commenced after 1622 and completed between 1627 and 1629. The latter date is determined by a 1629 letter written to Mutio Oddi in which the author describes seeing the painting in the home of Peter Linder in Milan. A partial translation of the letter is available on the website. The earlier date is suggested by the beginning of the relationship between the conceptual father of the painting’s allegory, Mutio Oddi, and Linder its patron. In addition, from the study drawing for the painting in which Linder seems to appear with Peter Paul Rubens and his apprentice Anthony van Dyck, there is a reasonable likelihood that Linder traveled to Antwerp around 1618.

Eligibility: The Award shall be open to all, but shall exclude the jurors or their family members.

Term of the Award: The Award will remain open for submissions until year end 2013. However, if a winner is not selected by that time, depending on the progress of submissions, the jury may decide to extend the deadline.

Selection: The prize will be awarded to the first person (according to the timestamp on the web submission) to submit evidence establishing reasonably certain attribution, as determined by the jury in its sole and final judgment

Confidentiality: All submissions will be treated confidentially unless specifically permitted to be released by their author or authors.

Background information/publications: For background information and relevant publications to assist in your research see: Resources

Making your submission: Please forward your submission including relevant documentary references, or any queries, by clicking on the Contact menu at the top of the home page.

We will publish relevant information in a timely manner on this website.

Ronald H. Cordover

July 5, 2012

Comments 3

  1. Laura Facchin

    I am very interested considering my past and present research on Daniele Crespi and Milanese patronage in the first decades of XVIIth century. It think the Linder Gallery Prize is a very good and new idea for art historians (in Italy, at least).
    Best regards,

  2. Ron

    Thanks Laura, for your supportive posting. Daniele Crespi certainly knew of Peter Linder and Mutio Oddi’s friendship and would highly likely have had first hand knowledge of the project that became the Linder Gallery Interior. Perhaps you will find some evidence in his papers of who Linder and Oddi worked with to create the painting.


    Dear Mr. Cordover, after having read all the recent literature about the Linder Gallery painting, and have had few emails with Alexander Marr, I have speculated on some points about the timing of the painting and its author; I would really appreciate your opinion on these and know your though.
    Here are some notes just to know if I have well understood the matter in order to propose some ideas and considerations to work on.

    • Oddi left Milan for Lucca in Spring 1625 and stayed there until 1636. He probably had not seen the painting. (But I have found the presence of Oddi in Milan on March 9th,1626; Archivio Stato Milano, Arch. Not. 27780)
    • Oddi on February 10th ,1625 was still in Milano (in Campo Santo) living behind the Duomo (see foreword of “Lo Squadro”) and taught mathematics at the Scuole Piattine, just at the opposite corner of the Duomo square.
    • Oddi’s medal was ready in 1627.
    • The time-span allowed to finish the painting is therefore 1627-March 1629 (Caravaggio’s letter to Oddi). Tabulae Rudolphinae were already printed. Why in the painting the title is misspelled in “Tabula Rudolfine”?A bad knowledge of latin ?A later addendum ?
    • From Caravaggio’s letter we desume that Oddi was the main responsible for the subject of the painting. Oddi and Linder were both in Milan until Spring 1625(or 1626).
    • In May, 1623, Oddi sent a note to Linder about a payment “to the Flemish”… was it for the drawing and an anticipation for the painting?
    • Linder stayed in Milan also during the great Plague of 1629-30 and only in 1635 moved to Venezia.
    • It is unquestionable that the Windsor drawing is related to the painting project and therefore older, being in my opinion a sort of anticipation of what the painting will be.
    • Knowing to be a little provocative, I suggest that the three men in the drawing could be (from left) Oddi (a part from the nose, he is more similar than Linder), or Linder, Van Dick (see self-portrait of c.1622) and Van Balen (1575-1632)(see self-portrait painted by Van Dick) or Francken II (1581-1642) (see self-portrait) or Rubens. The painters in the drawing are presenting to Oddi the project for the painting to have suggestions from him.
    • Coming to the painting, and deducing from their self-portraits, neither Van Dick, Van Balen or Franken II correspond both for physical characters and age to the little, young (about 30 year old?), quite fat and with a round nose painter at the left of an unquestionable Linder.
    • Again about the painting, the presence of the painter indicates perhaps who finished the painting, painting that most probably was the work of a “bottega” with more than one master. The quality is outstanding, I do not think that Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-1678) could be so skilfull… but his father or the three above-mentioned painters could be. The Younger was a very good friend of Van Dick, they were in Italy together (Milan and Sicily) during the first half of ‘20s. He arrived in Milan on June 20th, 1622 and lived by Ercole Bianchi who was strictly connected to Oddi. The two painters were protected by Federico Borromeo. Ercole Bianchi (1576-1636) acted as an agent for Federico Borromeo between Milan and Antwerp and some Flemish painters were in Lombardy at that period. Jan Brueghel the Younger possibly completed the painting after his father death (1625) and thought to put himself on the small painting. I think that the Rothshild legacy stating Brueghel the Elder as painter could be well believed to be valid.
    • Regarding the books in the background bookcase, the one on the bottom left could be Alfonsus (for Tabulae Alphonsine) a well-known astronomical almanac in use until the late Reinassance. Also another book (in the upper shelf) seems to be “N…. del Euclide”.
    • We know that Oddi didn’t like very much the optical attitude of Galileo to make observation with the telescope; this is why there is not a telescope in the painting (and in the drawing). And why there are no Galileo’s books.
    • Regarding the phrase “ALY ET ALIA VIDENT” for me the translation is: “Alcuni vedono anche altro”(Italian), i.e. “Some (people) see also other things”. This sentence is for me related to some different systems of the Universe partly coming from the ancient tradition (see “Metodo degli Epicicli” of Ipparco and Tolomeo, the “Homocentrical Spheres” of Eudosso di Cnido, the abandonment of the circular orbits of Aristarco di Samo by Kepler) but also partly re-interpreted by Gesuits on the Tyconic system.
    • The bearded man (“Disegno”) doesn’t look like Kepler at all. Could Simone Barocci be a better candidate for it ?(He was the teacher of Oddi).
    • As an historian of scientific instruments I cannot help but notice that the instruments on the left and right red tables are German while the central green table has Italians (except for the astrolabe and globe). Another connection to the Linder-Oddi friendship ?
    • Pietro Linder knew for sure Lodovico Settala (1552-1633) a renewed Milanese physician and wealthy collector; after his death (1631) his Galleria was greatly enlarged by one of his sons, Manfredo (1600-1680) (see literature). This connection should be investigated. I was recently at the Archivio di Stato of Milan and there I have found that both Linder and one of the sons of Lodovico had the same notary (i.e. Valerio Balestreri); he lived few tens of metres from Settala’s house (Via Pantano, San Nazaro in Brolo parish)(Archivio Notarile, 27782). The two collectors must know each other.
    • Pietro Linder lived in the city centre, very close to the Duomo and the Scuole Piattine where Oddi taught; no great space to suppose a large garden with obelisk.
    • Another area of investigation is the Ercole Bianchi-Linder possible connection, in order to find documents about the provision of the painting.

    The key to understand this unique and wonderful painting is based at least on three elements: Oddi’s culture, Linder collector’s attitude and Flemish taste.

    Prof. Alberto Lualdi, Historian of Scientific Instrumentation, Milan

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