Apollo Magazine

Prop appeal – Martin Scorsese’s neoclassical stylings

A painting ‘in the style of‘ Hubert Robert catches Rakewell’s eye in a still from Scorsese’s new movie, The Irishman

Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino, who is clearly an art lover, in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman (2019).

Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman (2019). Niko Tavernise/Netflix

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

Rakewell is all set for a trip to his local multiplex to see Martin Scorsese’s new film, The Irishman – and not least because Scorsese’s mob setting makes such a change from the art world.

Your correspondent’s curiosity has been piqued by a still of hoodlum Russell Bufalino (head of a Pennsylvania crime family in the ’50s, and played here by Joe Pesci) framed by some of the must-haves of mafia life – photographs of mob dinners and an ashtray, plus a bottle of amber liquor to hand. And behind him, a capriccio of the ruins of Rome… Spoils from a heist? Mafia collateral? A Giovanni Paolo Panini perhaps?

Rakewell’s sleuthing leads him not to the Grand Tour and its glorious ruins, but to a prop store in New York – where you can find a work listed as ‘Italian Neo-classic Hubert Robert style (20th Cent) landscape oil painting with a figures and ruins next to the Temple of Vesta and Arch of Titus in a gold carved frame [sic]’. Rental price: $595.

Prop appeal? Hubert Robert for hire

Pesci’s picture certainly has the same frame as the prop – and the butterscotch glow of the Arch of Titus and Temple of Vesta in the background. The Hubert Robert that it copies is a less sickly thing entirely. Just don’t tell Pesci.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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