A painting by Niccolò Betti donated to the Uffizi

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25/5/23 - Acquisition - Florence, Uffizi Museum - In memory of his father, Alfredo Moretti, a famous Tuscan art dealer, Fabrizio Moretti, Secretary General of the Florence International Biennial of Antiquaries, has donated to the Uffizi Museum a painting by Niccolò Betti depicting the Resurrection (ill. 1).
Jesus rises above an open coffin, in a halo of light delimited by clouds whose almond shape recalls the iconography of Christ in majesty in a mandorla. He is wearing a white standard with a red cross, and the stigmata are visible on his hand and chest. The drape that conceals his nakedness looks more like a garment than the shroud in which he was wrapped. His halo, cut off by the frame, seems to suggest that the composition was originally larger. Around him, the painter has depicted the different reactions of the soldiers: one, asleep, ignores the Good News; the other, terrified, does not understand it and protects himself with his shield. The identity of the third figure, in the background on the right, is not clear; he is wearing neither weapon nor armour, perhaps he is an apostle. The acid colours and elaborate poses of the figures bear witness to a late mannerism.

1. Niccolò Betti (vers 1550-1617)
Résurrection, vers 1575
Tempera sur bois - 45 x 60 cm
Florence, Musée des Offices
Photo : Offices
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Born in Florence, Betti was a pupil of Michele Tosini, better known as Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, before joining Giorgio Vasari, with whom he worked on the decoration of the Studiolo of Francesco I de’ Medici in the Palazzo Vecchio between 1570 and 1572, creating in particular the Sack of Corinth.
Vasari painted the Resurrection of Christ on several occasions; the Museo di Capodimonte preserves a picture painted in collaboration with Raffaellino del Colle. Raffaellino del Colle himself painted another painting featuring the motif of the soldier raising his shield.

2. Attribué à Francesco Morandini dit Il Poppi (1544-1597)
Résurrection, vers 1565 - 1597
Florence, Chiesa di S. Michele Visdomini
Photo : Fototeca Zeri
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Niccolò Betti was also influenced during his career by Giovanni Battista Naldini and Francesco Morandini, nicknamed il Poppi. A Resurrection attributed to Morandini (ill. 2) shows a number of similarities with the painting in the Uffizi: the pose of Christ is comparable, as is his appearance in a halo surrounded by clouds, the gesture of the soldier protecting himself is identical and his helmet similar to that in the Uffizi, and the figure of the sleeping man is also visible, but placed on the left rather than the right. However, the attribution of the painting to il Poppi is disputed.
Among Niccolò Betti’s other surviving works, a fine Adoration of the Shepherds can be seen in the church of Sant’Agnese in Montepulciano. It features the painter’s typical faces, with pointed chins and tapering noses, as well as long-fingered hands. The artist’s corpus is nevertheless limited, and this acquisition should enable it to be studied in greater depth.

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