Christ and the Samaritan Woman

Christ and the Samaritan Woman

Girolamo Negri known as Boccia

c. 1682
oil on canvas
95 x 125 cm
short description

The painting is paired with The Holy Family with the Young St. John the Baptist and an Angel

These two paintings are companion pieces, in other words a pair of pictures of the same size painted on the same occasion. In the first painting, the Christ Child offers the young St. John the Baptist a crucifix, foreshadowing his own sacrifice. The subject of the second painting, Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, is recounted in the Gospel according to St. John (Jn, 4:4-26). The woman holds an amphora in her hand while speaking to Jesus, whose arms are open wide. Behind them, three elderly people eavesdrop their conversation. The use of pastel shades and very soft lines infuse both paintings with a certain grace and elegance. The style is heavily influenced by Negri’s master, the Bolognese painter Lorenzo Pasinelli.

inventary n°

These two paintings had a varied attributive history before they were finally given to Girolamo Negri (see Casadei 1991). They were initially assigned to Luca Giordano by F. Argnani in 1881, then to Giovan Gioseffo dal Sole by Corbara in 1951. Roli, in a verbal communication to Sauro Casadei in 1989, pointed to the influence of Pasinelli, and Torri put forward Negri’s name, though two years later, in 1991, Casadei himself argued the case for a looser attribution to a ‘Bolognese painter active in the second half of the 17th century’.

In Christ and the Samaritan Woman Boccia follows the style of Pasinelli, an artist to whom he was very close in this central moment in his artistic career. The woman’s features, for example, owe a debt to the female figures painted by his master. Yet in both works the figures’ faces are already peculiar to Boccia, the adult Christ’s face closely echoing that in the Raising of Jairus’s Daughter, one of a set of four canvases now in a private collection in Reggio Emilia but originally from Villa Gandini (Formigine, Modena), while the Samaritan woman could be the twin sister of the Sibyl in the Purification of the Virgin discussed by A. Mazza (2016) and also now in a private collection. Similarly, the facial features of the figures in The Holy Family with the Young St. John the Baptist are typical of the painter’s style, particularly the figure of St. Joseph which sits well in the series of ‘character heads’, or heads without any particular aspiration to portraiture, which were so popular in Bologna as early as the beginning of the 17th century and which Negri was to paint throughout his career. The two pictures were probably painted together with the Sibyl, now in storage in the Pinacoteca Comunale di Faenza, when Negri was in Faenza c. 1682, working on the decoration of the Celestine Fathers’ (now destroyed) church.

F. Argnani, La Pinacoteca Comunale di Faenza, Faenza 1881, p. 30

S. Carnevale, Girolamo Negri, detto il Boccia (1648- post 1721), Diss., Università Alma Mater Studiorum, Bologna 2020

S. Casadei, La Pinacoteca di Faenza, Bologna 1991

CORBARA 1951-7
A. Corbara, Entries for the Catalogo generale dell’opere d’arte mobili della Soprintendenza per i Beni Artistici e Storici di Bologna, 1951–7

MAZZA 2016
A. Mazza, Felsina sempre pittrice: acquisizioni d’arte e donazioni per la storia di Bologna (2014-2016), exhibition catalogue ed. by A. Mazza, (Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Bologna, Genus Bononiae. Musei nella Città) Bologna 2016, p. 75

NALDI 2008
M. Naldi, Il fascino dell’arte emiliana: dipinti e disegni dal XVI secolo al XIX secolo, exhibition catalogue ed. by D. Benati, (Bologna, Galleria Fondantico) Bologna 2008, p. 72

The images are the property of the Pinacoteca Comunale di Faenza. For the use of the images, please write to

written by
Sveva Carnevale