Storia dell’arte  Nuova Serie 2 | Luglio – Dicembre 2020
Silvia Danesi Squarzina
Il Figliol prodigo della collezione Giustiniani: un Lanfranco ritrovato
The inventories of the Giustiniani collection serve as an observatory on seventeenth- century painting: thanks to them, lost works are sometimes rediscovered. This is true of an important painting that reappeared on the market, described in number 104, I, of the 1638 inventory; the measurements and subject correspond, and a further definitive confirmation of the identification was obtained by removing the lining canvas and bringing to light the original canvas with the “paraffa”, or collector’s mark, an unmistakable sign that it belonged to the famous collection. This is thus a certain work by Giovanni Lanfranco depicting The Return of the Prodigal Son, a theme replete with religious meanings; Lanfranco was much loved by the two brothers, Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani and Marquis Vincenzo, as well as by Andrea, who on Vincenzo’s death inherited his vast estate and who may have commissioned an excellent copy of the same painting (owned by the Prado and on loan to Zaragoza), probably to adorn the villa at the Lateran. The Galleria Spada holds a Boy in a Feathered Hat, attributed to Lanfranco by Erich Schleier, in which we see one of the three figures in the rediscovered Giustiniani painting.