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Čís. položky 42


Lavinia Fontana


(Bologna 1552–1614 Rome)
Madonna del silenzio,
monogrammed lower centre left L. F. Z.,
oil on copper, 51.8 x 39 cm, framed

Provenance:
Private European collection (acquired by the grandfather of the present owner)

We are grateful to Maria Teresa Cantaro for confirming the attribution after examination of the present painting in the original.

Recent surface cleaning of this painting on copper has revealed a monogram in black capitals, subtly positioned on the left vertical strut of the reed cot: L. F. Z. These are the initials of Lavinia Fontana Zappi.

The subject represented here relates to the Holy Family with the Christ Child sleeping and Saint John the Baptist, executed by Lavinia Fontana in Bologna in 1589, which was acquired by King Philip II of Spain. The painting entered the Royal Monastery of El Escorial on the 8 July 1593, where it was placed in the Pantheon degli Infanti where it remains to this day. It is signed by the artist twice, on a cartouche at lower left in capitals, with a full script emphasising its origins in Bologna: LAVINIA FONTANA DE ZAPPIS FACIEBAT / IN BOLOGNA / MDLXXXVIIII and again on the left vertical strut of the cradle in abbreviated form: LAVIN. / FONT. / DE ZAPP. / 1589 (see M. T. Cantaro, Lavinia Fontana bolognese “pittora singolare” 1552-1614, Roma 1989, pp. 146-147; A. Pérez de Tudela, in Historia de dos pintoras Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana – A tale of two women painters Sofinisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, L. Ruiz Gómez ed., exhibition catalogue, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 22 October 2019 – 2 February 2020, Madrid 2019, pp. 206-207).

Lavinia Fontana’s work attained considerable celebrity and from the sources one learns that: ‘there must have been ten to twelve copies made of this original, [‘Debbonsi esser fatte da dieci a dodici copie di questo originale, …’], as Malvasia states, taking his information from Mazzolari (C. C. Malvasia, Felsina pittrice. Vite de’ pittori bolognesi, Bologna 1678, vol. I, p. 224).

Perhaps on account of such recognition, Lavinia made a reduced version on copper: this has a more distant viewpoint, to include the figure of Saint Elisabeth and two angels in flight, holding back the drapery of a copious green baldacchino. This new version, wherein the subject is treated according to a more intimate reading, could be easily transported, and would appeal to refined patrons; it was well suited to a domestic context, both as a collectible, given its precious support, and as an object of devotion.

There are two autograph versions of this second composition, one is conserved in the Galleria Borghese, Rome (this, Lavinia signed and dated 1591). The other, which is signed but not dated, is in the National Museum, Stockholm. The latter has a more distant and somewhat elevated viewpoint, conceived to allow the inclusion of a geometrically patterned marble tiled floor that extends the picture plane into the distance (M. T. Cantaro, op. cit., 1989, pp. 156-157).

The present painting under discussion relates more closely to the painting in Stockholm as this composition includes the depiction of the paved floor, which is not present in the Borghese copper, which also lacks the extensive fall of green drapery on the left. The present painting also includes a reference to the Spanish painting by the inclusion of the signature on the left strut of the cradle.

Significantly this painting reveals an element of original detail: the little red roses (some in bunches of three) scattered on the sleeping Child’s bed. This floral motif characterises the narrative since, in addition to incorporating an almost poetic lightness to the figure group, the roses also recall the symbolism of Christ’s martyrdom and resurrection (see J. Hall, Dizionario dei soggetti e dei simboli nell’arte, Milan 2010, p. 354).

This detail distinguishes the present work from the other versions, and it may indicate that the patron had a specific interest in alluding to the future sacrifice of the Christ Child. Such an iconographic interpretation had a precedent in Bologna, dating to 1570, in the painting of the Holy Family, now in the Collezioni Comunali d’Arte di Bologna (see F. Caldarola, Francesco Cavazzoni (?), Sacra Famiglia, in “Figure”, Rivista della Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni Storico Artistici dell’Università di Bologna, n. 3, 2017, pp. 108-111) wherein a bunch of roses is placed on the pillow beside the sleeping Child. Such an allegorical interpretation, in which the veil stands for the shroud, and the bed for the sepulchre, brings this copper closer to the specific Bolognese cultural circle in which Lavinia Fontana was raised; with the insertion of this minor variant, the artist almost reinterprets the subject.

The painterly quality of this work revealed after cleaning, demonstrates a delicate application of colour, a slight but well-defined design, and a soft treatment of the chiaroscuro in which the tonal transitions are very gradual. This work also displays a refined virtuosity in the depiction of transparent veils on the heads of the Virgin and Saint Elisabeth, and above all in the depiction of the organza veil (a typical luxury product from the Bolognese silk mills) bordered with gold thread, held by Mary and falling to just cover the Christ Child’s body, and extending over the realistically depicted wicker cradle, to the ground. These singularities, combined with a richly varied palette, dominated by rose coloured tones and the occasional iridescence, along with a quiet, balanced narrative pace, are typical characteristics of Lavinia Fontana’s artistic maturity, at which time she commanded respect and admiration.

It is not surprising that the artist only initialed this painting on copper, rather than signing it in full or abbreviated form, as in the other works; in Cantaro´s opinion she did this because the composition was known to be very much her own, and therefore it did not need further claims of authorship.

The present small painting therefore belongs alongside the two other autograph examples, thereby forming a group of three that can be dated within the first half of the 1590s, made for an unknown, but refined and devout patron.

The copper support: Paintings on copper were especially prized for their qualities of preservation: indeed, the pigments which usually develop craquelure remain stable for longer, and the brilliance of the colours is maintained as the preparatory layers are fine, allowing the natural rose colour of the copper support to become part of the work’s ground, beneath the painted surface (see Rame. Il metallo dell’arte fiamminga, exhibition catalogue, Galleria Caretto & Occhinegro, 7 November - 23 December 2017, Turin 2017; D. Dossi, ‘Alessandro Turchi e la pittura su rame: qualche ipotesi per il collezionismo di Alessandro Peretti Montalto e Federico Cornaro’, in Arte-Documento, n. 33, 2017, pp. 162-169C; see also: C. P. Murphy, Lavinia Fontana. A Painter and her Patrons in Sixteenth Century Bologna, New Haven and London 2003, p. 30, note 54). From the beginning of the second half of the sixteenth century, works on this type of support by Flemish and German artists became widely circulated, generating the transmission of the technique to Italy. Lavinia Fontana was among the first Italian painters to use this method at the outset of her career, possibly owing to her direct contact with the Flemish painter, Denis Calvaert (1540-1619) who was a friend of her father’s, his pupil and a familiar in their home in via Galliera in Bologna.

From the start of her career, at the request of a closed circle of clients, Lavinia Fontana made a certain number of small-scale works on copper, wood and canvas which allowed her to define and distinguish her own abilities, as distinct from those of her father and teacher, through the expression of a personal language focused on translating sacred themes within a familiar context, with a narrative free of late mannerist rhetoric, more attuned to the naturalistic realism of her contemporaries, the Carracci, exemplified by their frescoes in the Palazzo Fava in Bologna of 1584.

Expert: Mark MacDonnell Mark MacDonnell
+43 1 515 60 403

mark.macdonnell@dorotheum.at

10.11.2020 - 16:00

Dosažená cena: **
EUR 235.100,-
Odhadní cena:
EUR 150.000,- do EUR 200.000,-

Lavinia Fontana


(Bologna 1552–1614 Rome)
Madonna del silenzio,
monogrammed lower centre left L. F. Z.,
oil on copper, 51.8 x 39 cm, framed

Provenance:
Private European collection (acquired by the grandfather of the present owner)

We are grateful to Maria Teresa Cantaro for confirming the attribution after examination of the present painting in the original.

Recent surface cleaning of this painting on copper has revealed a monogram in black capitals, subtly positioned on the left vertical strut of the reed cot: L. F. Z. These are the initials of Lavinia Fontana Zappi.

The subject represented here relates to the Holy Family with the Christ Child sleeping and Saint John the Baptist, executed by Lavinia Fontana in Bologna in 1589, which was acquired by King Philip II of Spain. The painting entered the Royal Monastery of El Escorial on the 8 July 1593, where it was placed in the Pantheon degli Infanti where it remains to this day. It is signed by the artist twice, on a cartouche at lower left in capitals, with a full script emphasising its origins in Bologna: LAVINIA FONTANA DE ZAPPIS FACIEBAT / IN BOLOGNA / MDLXXXVIIII and again on the left vertical strut of the cradle in abbreviated form: LAVIN. / FONT. / DE ZAPP. / 1589 (see M. T. Cantaro, Lavinia Fontana bolognese “pittora singolare” 1552-1614, Roma 1989, pp. 146-147; A. Pérez de Tudela, in Historia de dos pintoras Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana – A tale of two women painters Sofinisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, L. Ruiz Gómez ed., exhibition catalogue, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 22 October 2019 – 2 February 2020, Madrid 2019, pp. 206-207).

Lavinia Fontana’s work attained considerable celebrity and from the sources one learns that: ‘there must have been ten to twelve copies made of this original, [‘Debbonsi esser fatte da dieci a dodici copie di questo originale, …’], as Malvasia states, taking his information from Mazzolari (C. C. Malvasia, Felsina pittrice. Vite de’ pittori bolognesi, Bologna 1678, vol. I, p. 224).

Perhaps on account of such recognition, Lavinia made a reduced version on copper: this has a more distant viewpoint, to include the figure of Saint Elisabeth and two angels in flight, holding back the drapery of a copious green baldacchino. This new version, wherein the subject is treated according to a more intimate reading, could be easily transported, and would appeal to refined patrons; it was well suited to a domestic context, both as a collectible, given its precious support, and as an object of devotion.

There are two autograph versions of this second composition, one is conserved in the Galleria Borghese, Rome (this, Lavinia signed and dated 1591). The other, which is signed but not dated, is in the National Museum, Stockholm. The latter has a more distant and somewhat elevated viewpoint, conceived to allow the inclusion of a geometrically patterned marble tiled floor that extends the picture plane into the distance (M. T. Cantaro, op. cit., 1989, pp. 156-157).

The present painting under discussion relates more closely to the painting in Stockholm as this composition includes the depiction of the paved floor, which is not present in the Borghese copper, which also lacks the extensive fall of green drapery on the left. The present painting also includes a reference to the Spanish painting by the inclusion of the signature on the left strut of the cradle.

Significantly this painting reveals an element of original detail: the little red roses (some in bunches of three) scattered on the sleeping Child’s bed. This floral motif characterises the narrative since, in addition to incorporating an almost poetic lightness to the figure group, the roses also recall the symbolism of Christ’s martyrdom and resurrection (see J. Hall, Dizionario dei soggetti e dei simboli nell’arte, Milan 2010, p. 354).

This detail distinguishes the present work from the other versions, and it may indicate that the patron had a specific interest in alluding to the future sacrifice of the Christ Child. Such an iconographic interpretation had a precedent in Bologna, dating to 1570, in the painting of the Holy Family, now in the Collezioni Comunali d’Arte di Bologna (see F. Caldarola, Francesco Cavazzoni (?), Sacra Famiglia, in “Figure”, Rivista della Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni Storico Artistici dell’Università di Bologna, n. 3, 2017, pp. 108-111) wherein a bunch of roses is placed on the pillow beside the sleeping Child. Such an allegorical interpretation, in which the veil stands for the shroud, and the bed for the sepulchre, brings this copper closer to the specific Bolognese cultural circle in which Lavinia Fontana was raised; with the insertion of this minor variant, the artist almost reinterprets the subject.

The painterly quality of this work revealed after cleaning, demonstrates a delicate application of colour, a slight but well-defined design, and a soft treatment of the chiaroscuro in which the tonal transitions are very gradual. This work also displays a refined virtuosity in the depiction of transparent veils on the heads of the Virgin and Saint Elisabeth, and above all in the depiction of the organza veil (a typical luxury product from the Bolognese silk mills) bordered with gold thread, held by Mary and falling to just cover the Christ Child’s body, and extending over the realistically depicted wicker cradle, to the ground. These singularities, combined with a richly varied palette, dominated by rose coloured tones and the occasional iridescence, along with a quiet, balanced narrative pace, are typical characteristics of Lavinia Fontana’s artistic maturity, at which time she commanded respect and admiration.

It is not surprising that the artist only initialed this painting on copper, rather than signing it in full or abbreviated form, as in the other works; in Cantaro´s opinion she did this because the composition was known to be very much her own, and therefore it did not need further claims of authorship.

The present small painting therefore belongs alongside the two other autograph examples, thereby forming a group of three that can be dated within the first half of the 1590s, made for an unknown, but refined and devout patron.

The copper support: Paintings on copper were especially prized for their qualities of preservation: indeed, the pigments which usually develop craquelure remain stable for longer, and the brilliance of the colours is maintained as the preparatory layers are fine, allowing the natural rose colour of the copper support to become part of the work’s ground, beneath the painted surface (see Rame. Il metallo dell’arte fiamminga, exhibition catalogue, Galleria Caretto & Occhinegro, 7 November - 23 December 2017, Turin 2017; D. Dossi, ‘Alessandro Turchi e la pittura su rame: qualche ipotesi per il collezionismo di Alessandro Peretti Montalto e Federico Cornaro’, in Arte-Documento, n. 33, 2017, pp. 162-169C; see also: C. P. Murphy, Lavinia Fontana. A Painter and her Patrons in Sixteenth Century Bologna, New Haven and London 2003, p. 30, note 54). From the beginning of the second half of the sixteenth century, works on this type of support by Flemish and German artists became widely circulated, generating the transmission of the technique to Italy. Lavinia Fontana was among the first Italian painters to use this method at the outset of her career, possibly owing to her direct contact with the Flemish painter, Denis Calvaert (1540-1619) who was a friend of her father’s, his pupil and a familiar in their home in via Galliera in Bologna.

From the start of her career, at the request of a closed circle of clients, Lavinia Fontana made a certain number of small-scale works on copper, wood and canvas which allowed her to define and distinguish her own abilities, as distinct from those of her father and teacher, through the expression of a personal language focused on translating sacred themes within a familiar context, with a narrative free of late mannerist rhetoric, more attuned to the naturalistic realism of her contemporaries, the Carracci, exemplified by their frescoes in the Palazzo Fava in Bologna of 1584.

Expert: Mark MacDonnell Mark MacDonnell
+43 1 515 60 403

mark.macdonnell@dorotheum.at


Horká linka kupujících Po-Pá: 9.00 - 18.00
old.masters@dorotheum.at

+43 1 515 60 403
Aukce: Obrazy starých mistrů
Datum: 10.11.2020 - 16:00
Místo konání aukce: Vídeň | Palais Dorotheum
Prohlídka: 04.11. - 10.11.2020


** Kupní cena vč. poplatku kupujícího a DPH

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