(b. 1603, Monreale, d. 1647, Palermo)

Cain and Abel

Oil on canvas, 198 x 147 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

The catalogue number found at the bottom of the canvas allowed to identify this painting as the Cain and Abel that was in the Barberini collection in the nineteenth century. This canvas was attributed to Vouet. The old attribution held even after the acquisition of the painting by the state in 1981. A check of the seventeenth-century inventories of the Barberini collection reveals four pictures of the same subject: among these, the National Gallery painting can be identified with a canvas cited (without the name of its author) in a 1655 inventory. The same inventory lists a pendant depicting Saint Sebastian cured by the Pious Women. As this painting has been convincingly attributed to Pietro Novelli, known as Il Monrealese, the discovery of the relationship between the two paintings has led to the attribution of the National Gallery picture to the same artist.