Northwest Chapter

Camassei’s Cain and Abel

Artist: Andrea Camassei
Date: 17th Century
Dimensions: 204 x 142 cm
Material: Oil on canvas

This painting by Andrea Camassei (Bevagna 1602 – Rome 1649) depicts the famous episode described in the book of Genesis of the killing of Abel by his brother Cain, the sons of Adam and Eve.

The artist captures the climax of Cain’s fratricidal violence when he kills Abel with his club. The background features a landscape with a fire burning on the sacrificial altar. Cain and Abel, variously represented in the act of sacrifice or murder are the subjects of numerous works of art.

This painting is similar to the work of masters like Reni and Domenichino in its purified classicism and clearly demonstrates the evolution of Baroque virtuosity. An ancient allocation refers to the painting as completed by Andrea Camassei who was active in Rome from 1626, when he arrived, until his death in 1649.

Later, Camassei worked for the Barberini family in Rome, and his style was oriented to follow masters like Correggio and Raphael. Camassei completed two more paintings on the same subject: Cain
kills Abel (Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland) and the Curse of Cain (Rome, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini).

Ironically, it seems Cammasei himself was killed by a “treacherous and fratricidal hand.”

The version in the Vatican Collection is characterized by a uniformity of colors and an almost unreal composition.

Restoration Process Includes:

  • Lining of the canvas
  • up of the pictorial surface
  • Reintegration of the pictorial surface
  • Reapplication and balancing of the protective coat
  • Photographic documentation
  • Reassembly
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