SALINI, Tommaso
(b. 1575, Roma, d. 1625, Roma)

Still-life with Fruit, Vegetables and Animals

Oil on canvas, 55 x 95 cm
Private collection

Vegetables and fruit, scattered freely and in baskets, are arranged on a surface whose shape and material cannot be clearly distinguished. In the foreground a viper aims its forked tongue at the leaves of a cabbage and, on a higher shelf, beside a ceramic vase, a mouse gnaws at a nut.

At the lower right, in large capital letters, is a signature which has created a small scholarly controversy. It would appear that Tommaso Salini painted this still-life in 1621, but technical analysis has revealed that the inscription and date are not original and may have been added in the nineteenth century. The sole document relating to Salini is his last will and testament of 12 September 1625 and the posthumous inventory of his property drawn up between 14 and 16 September. The summary descriptions in the inventory were endorsed by the flower painter par excellence, Mario Nuzzi, called Mario de' Fiori, who was the pupil and nephew of Salini as well as his heir. The lists drawn up in his presence make no mention of paintings similar to this still-life. With these invaluable documents to hand, the name 'Salini' must be looked at in a new light. It has been suggested that he was a flower painter and the teacher of Nuzzi. This would mean that Salini was neither the author of this painting nor the others like it which have been attributed to him.