Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    TOMMASO REALFONSO, known as MASILLO (Italian 1677 - 1743)
    Flowers in a Delft Vase (set of four)
    Oil on canvas
    28-3/8 x 18-3/8 inches (each)
    Signed with artist's initials To.R. (three)
    Signed, To. Realfonso (one)
    All four bear multiple customs stamps (verso)

    Newhouse Galleries, New York, NY;
    Mr. and Mrs. F. Howard Walsh, Fort Worth, Texas;
    Walsh Family Art Trust

    Tommaso Realfonso was an accomplished still-life painter from early eighteenth-century Naples who specialized in fruit, flowers, foodstuffs, and game. His sumptuous and elegant aesthetic is fully apparent in this handsome suite of statuesque bouquets; their identical attenuated proportions are an indication that they were probably commissioned from the artist to adorn a specific private residence. That they remain together as a suite and in such fine state of preservation further suggests that as a group the paintings have changed hands very seldom since the early eighteenth century.

    Realfonso's work belongs to a distinguished legacy of painting that combines the tenebrism characteristic of Neapolitan painting (here we have the ongoing influence of Caravaggio) with the brilliant coloration of the motifs themselves. This latter is indebted to the work of the Flemish-born Abraham Brueghel (1631-1697), who had spent most of his career in Rome and Naples (1670-1697), and whom Realfonso could conceivably have met during his early years of his artistic training. Brueghel's lushly painted bouquets of overblown tulips and poppy anemones, and baskets of bursting pomegranates and cascades of grapes, found tremendous popularity among patrons and contemporary artists throughout Italy and Spain.

    According to the Italian biographer, Filippo Baldinucci, Realfonso trained in Naples from 1692 to 1694 under Andrea Belvedere (1642-1732), a celebrated master of still life recognized for his virtuosity in rendering a vast variety of opulent textures. He often placed a brilliant passage of impasto on the highpoint of all his forms, bringing them forward in space. Realfonso's studies with him ended when Belvedere left for Spain in 1694 to collaborate with Luca Giordano on several important commissions for the Spanish crown. Belvedere transmitted to Realfonso the style and compositional devices of Abraham Brueghel filtered through his own teachers, Paolo Porpora and the masterfully fluent Giovanni Battista Ruoppoli.

    As Federico Zeri noted in his groundbreaking work on still life painting in Italy (La Natura Morta in Italia, Milan 1989), Realfonso preferred tall bouquets, such as those in the present suite of paintings, and often used the terracotta vases depicted in two of the canvases as containers for his flowers. The vessels were a signature motif of his teacher's work as well.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2006
    9th-10th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,913

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    This item cannot be shipped using standard methods. Please contact us for more information. Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions  |  Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments |  Glossary of Terms

    Sold on Nov 9, 2006 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2022 May 17 Silver & Vertu Signature® Auction .

    Learn about consigning with us

    I sent out several inquiries, but Moyun is the primary reason I went with Heritage. She is extremely knowledgeable.
    Linda H.,
    Washington, D.C.
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search