In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week: Giulio Cesare Procaccini, “Sacrifice of Isaac.”
Like so many artists of the Renaissance and beyond, Giulio Cesare Procaccini (1574-1625) was born into an artistic family. His father, Ercole the Elder, was a former student of Annibale Carracci and founded the Academy of the Procaccini, which trained many Milanese painters after about 1590. Even so, Giulio began his artistic career as a sculptor before turning to painting.

Between 1613 and 1616, Procaccini worked in Modena, where the influence of his father — and thus Carracci — gave way to the extreme sfumato championed by Correggio and his pupils. The artist’s style continued to vacillate in the last years of his life as he began to take note of Peter Paul Rubens’s palette and expressiveness of figure. Some scholars have suggested that Procaccini’s fluctuations in style may have contributed toward his lack of notoriety. The Getty reports, “[Procaccini] employed the acid colors and tense, sophisticated draftsmanship typical of Mannerism as well as the theatrical effects, movement, and deep feeling that anticipate the Baroque.”
Featuring in the September 23 sale of Old Master and 19th-century paintings at Auctionata, Berlin, is one of Procaccini’s late oils, dated to 1620-1625. A popular subject, “The Sacrifice of Isaac” recounts the biblical story of God testing Abraham’s faith. Procaccini’s version of the scene is unique, spiraling from lower left through Isaac’s and Abraham’s shoulders and down through the dagger-bearing arm of Abraham, which points back toward the center. The fascinating composition seems typical of the Baroque, but the fully saturated oranges, reds, and blues of the characters’ clothing adheres to the older Mannerist tradition. Abraham himself is skillfully rendered, his tense arms, hands, and well-observed visage all indications of Procaccini’s skill.
“The Sacrifice of Isaac” will feature at noon ET on September 23, during Auctionata’s “Old Masters and 19th Century Paintings” sale. The painting has an auction estimate of €60,000 (~$67,000 USD).
To view the full catalogue, visit Auctionata.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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