Lot No. 373


Artemisia Gentileschi


(Rome 1593 – post 31 January 1654 Naples)
with the assistance, in the background, of Onofrio Palumbo (Naples 1606–1656?)
Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy,
oil on canvas, 129.8 x 180.4 cm, framed

Provenance:
with Gilberto Algranti, Milan;
Private European collection

Exhibited:
Sydney / Melbourne, Art Gallery of New South Wales / National Gallery of Victoria, Darkness & light: Caravaggio & his world, 29 November 2003 – 22 February 2004 / 11 March – 30 May 2004, no. 55 (as Massimo Stanzione)

Literature:
J. T. Spike, in: E. Capron/J. T. Spike, Darkness & light: Caravaggio & his world, exhibition catalogue, Sydney 2003, pp. 188-189, no. 55 (as Massimo Stanzione, with slightly different measurements);
N. Spinosa, in: N. Spinosa, Ritorno al barocco. Da Caravaggio a Vanvitelli, exhibition catalogue, Naples 2009, p. 161, mentioned under no. 1.70 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
N. Spinosa, Pittura del Seicento a Napoli da Caravaggio a Massimo Stanzione, Naples 2010, p. 359, no. 343 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
N. Spinosa, Artemisia Gentileschi e Onofrio Palumbo: insieme o ‘separati’?, in: P. di Loreto (ed.), Una vita per la storia dell’arte. Scritti in memoria di Maurizio Marini, Rome 2015, pp. 381–384, fig. 2 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
N. Spinosa, in: F. Baldassari/J. Mann/N. Spinosa (eds.), Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2016, p. 232, mentioned under no. 72 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
R. Lattuada, in: F. Baldassari/J. Mann/N. Spinosa (eds.), Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2016, p. 226, mentioned under no. 69 (as Artemisia Gentileschi);
R. Lattuada, Unknown Paintings by Artemisia in Naples, and New Points Regarding Her Daily Life and Bottega, in: S. Barker (ed.), Artemisia Gentileschi in a Changing Light, Turnhout 2017, pp. 201-204, fig. 31 (as Artemisia Gentileschi, with slightly different measurements)

The present painting was restored to Artemisia Gentileschi’s corpus of works by Riccardo Lattuada (see literature). He dates this work to the 1630s or 1640s and has suggested that the background may have be executed by Micco Spadaro, the young Salvator Rosa, or another artist specialising in landscape painting from the circle of Aniello Falcone.

Nicola Spinosa independently confirmed the attribution to Artemisia Gentileschi, with the assistance of Onofrio Palumbo in the background, after recently examining the present painting in the original for the first time. He dates this work to soon after 1640. Previously, on the basis of a photograph, Spinosa had given this painting to Onofrio Palumbo (see literature).

The present painting was exhibited in 2003 with an attribution to Massimo Stanzione (1585–1656) advanced by John Spike (see literature). Spike drew attention to the work’s composition, underlining how the illuminated reclining figure in the foreground, set against a dark rocky background with a landscape view opening out to one side was a formula specifically used by two followers of Caravaggio, Orazio Gentileschi and his daughter Artemisia. According to Spike, the Neapolitan painter Massimo Stanzione adopted this compositional formula with the objective of emulating the celebrated Artemisia, who was documented in Naples during the 1630s.

After travelling to London in the later 1630s to assist her father Orazio, Artemisia returned to Naples. In this period, she was at the apogee of her fame as her reputation was near mythical, given that the story of her long, and well documented career was known throughout Europe. Her works were sought after by patrons and to satisfy the demand for her work Artemisia found it necessary to employ the assistance of studio collaborators, especially for the execution of the secondary parts in works of large dimensions. Her collaborations with the painters Bernardo Cavallino, Viviano Codazzi and Domenico Gargiulo are well known, such as the Bathsheba in the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. Lattuada (2017, see literature) has also hypothesised that she used cartoons to replicate similar subjects in her paintings: this was a practice also followed by her father, Orazio Gentileschi.

The present painting reveals close stylistic and compositional affinities with another Magdalene, of similar size, which was also initially attributed to Onofrio Palumbo by Spinosa, and later also restored by him to Artemisia (see op. cit. Spinosa, 2015, p. 232, no. 72, ill., as Onoforio Palumbo; and N. Spinosa, in: F. Baldassari/J. Mann/N. Spinosa [eds.], Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2016, p. 232, no. 72, as Artemisia Gentileschi). The latter Magdalene was formerly with Robilant and Voena and then with Giacometti Fine Arts, and is now in a private collection.

The present work, and the ex-Robilant and Voena Penitent Magdalene, both show the saint at the opening of a cave, reclining semi-nude and covered only in part. In accord with the Scriptures, she is shown after her retirement to the desert to live in penance, following the death of Christ. In the present painting, however, the pose of the Magdalene, differs from the ex-Robilant and Voena painting: here she gently rests her head on her right hand as she turns ecstatically to gaze at the sky, which is striated with rose coloured clouds, as she holds out her gesturing left hand as in a dialogue with the Divine. On the rock to the left her typical attributes are depicted: the skull and the ointment jar. Her figure of voluptuously seductive beauty is highlighted by the warm atmospheric light of the setting, and she is partly covered by a pale yellow-gold cloth while she reclines on the sumptuous, deep lapis lazuli blue coloured mantle. The painting presents chromatic solutions of heightened intensity. The application of colour and the solid integrity of the form reveal Artemisia’s pictorial ability. Her careful and compact brush strokes build the sculptural form of the drapery folds, as well as describing the Saint’s hair and from. Her luminous figure is silhouetted against the dark ground and the sweetness of her expression and of her mystic experience, depicting a moment of ecstasy, make this painting an extremely significant addition to Artemisia’s late work.

The present painting has also been compared to another Magdalene by Artemisia in a private collection (see R. Ward Bissel, Artemisia Gentileschi and the authority of art: critical reading and catalogue raisonné, University Park 1999, pp. 228-230, no. 21, fig. 111). The figure is inverted when compared to arrangement of the figure in the present work. Nevertheless, in both works the saint is shown with her legs in the same position and her elbow resting on the stone block in the same way. This compositional format is also similar to the composition of the Penitent Magdalene by Artemisia’s father, Orazio Gentileschi, of circa 1622–1628, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (see fig. 1), as well as his celebrated painting of Danae and the Shower of Gold now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (see fig. 2).

Orazio Gentileschi realised more than one version of his Magdalene and he places the saint in a similar rocky landscape setting to the present composition by Artemisia. The saint is portrayed in front a rocky spur with a landscape in the distance with some of the same objects of the saint’s attributes that are also depicted in Artemisia’s painting. The saint is also shown leaning on a rock and looking up to the sky glorifying the Divine Love and turning away from the earthly things.

Technical analysis:
IR reflectography reveals traces of a thin underdrawing and some small changes, including the position of the left nipple which was originally placed lower.

IR transparency of Mary Magdalen’s cloak is caused by the use of a high-quality ultramarine blue derived from lapis lazuli, which was widely employed in all the blue areas, sometimes mixed with red lake in grey tones, such as in the mountains. The extensive use of ultramarine blue indicates the importance of the present painting, and by inference the commission. The palette also includes ochre, brown earths, vermillion, the latter is used in the clouds mixed with lead white.

We are grateful to Gianluca Poldi for the technical examination of the present painting.

30.04.2019 - 17:00

Realized price: **
EUR 442,500.-
Estimate:
EUR 400,000.- to EUR 600,000.-

Artemisia Gentileschi


(Rome 1593 – post 31 January 1654 Naples)
with the assistance, in the background, of Onofrio Palumbo (Naples 1606–1656?)
Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy,
oil on canvas, 129.8 x 180.4 cm, framed

Provenance:
with Gilberto Algranti, Milan;
Private European collection

Exhibited:
Sydney / Melbourne, Art Gallery of New South Wales / National Gallery of Victoria, Darkness & light: Caravaggio & his world, 29 November 2003 – 22 February 2004 / 11 March – 30 May 2004, no. 55 (as Massimo Stanzione)

Literature:
J. T. Spike, in: E. Capron/J. T. Spike, Darkness & light: Caravaggio & his world, exhibition catalogue, Sydney 2003, pp. 188-189, no. 55 (as Massimo Stanzione, with slightly different measurements);
N. Spinosa, in: N. Spinosa, Ritorno al barocco. Da Caravaggio a Vanvitelli, exhibition catalogue, Naples 2009, p. 161, mentioned under no. 1.70 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
N. Spinosa, Pittura del Seicento a Napoli da Caravaggio a Massimo Stanzione, Naples 2010, p. 359, no. 343 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
N. Spinosa, Artemisia Gentileschi e Onofrio Palumbo: insieme o ‘separati’?, in: P. di Loreto (ed.), Una vita per la storia dell’arte. Scritti in memoria di Maurizio Marini, Rome 2015, pp. 381–384, fig. 2 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
N. Spinosa, in: F. Baldassari/J. Mann/N. Spinosa (eds.), Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2016, p. 232, mentioned under no. 72 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
R. Lattuada, in: F. Baldassari/J. Mann/N. Spinosa (eds.), Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2016, p. 226, mentioned under no. 69 (as Artemisia Gentileschi);
R. Lattuada, Unknown Paintings by Artemisia in Naples, and New Points Regarding Her Daily Life and Bottega, in: S. Barker (ed.), Artemisia Gentileschi in a Changing Light, Turnhout 2017, pp. 201-204, fig. 31 (as Artemisia Gentileschi, with slightly different measurements)

The present painting was restored to Artemisia Gentileschi’s corpus of works by Riccardo Lattuada (see literature). He dates this work to the 1630s or 1640s and has suggested that the background may have be executed by Micco Spadaro, the young Salvator Rosa, or another artist specialising in landscape painting from the circle of Aniello Falcone.

Nicola Spinosa independently confirmed the attribution to Artemisia Gentileschi, with the assistance of Onofrio Palumbo in the background, after recently examining the present painting in the original for the first time. He dates this work to soon after 1640. Previously, on the basis of a photograph, Spinosa had given this painting to Onofrio Palumbo (see literature).

The present painting was exhibited in 2003 with an attribution to Massimo Stanzione (1585–1656) advanced by John Spike (see literature). Spike drew attention to the work’s composition, underlining how the illuminated reclining figure in the foreground, set against a dark rocky background with a landscape view opening out to one side was a formula specifically used by two followers of Caravaggio, Orazio Gentileschi and his daughter Artemisia. According to Spike, the Neapolitan painter Massimo Stanzione adopted this compositional formula with the objective of emulating the celebrated Artemisia, who was documented in Naples during the 1630s.

After travelling to London in the later 1630s to assist her father Orazio, Artemisia returned to Naples. In this period, she was at the apogee of her fame as her reputation was near mythical, given that the story of her long, and well documented career was known throughout Europe. Her works were sought after by patrons and to satisfy the demand for her work Artemisia found it necessary to employ the assistance of studio collaborators, especially for the execution of the secondary parts in works of large dimensions. Her collaborations with the painters Bernardo Cavallino, Viviano Codazzi and Domenico Gargiulo are well known, such as the Bathsheba in the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. Lattuada (2017, see literature) has also hypothesised that she used cartoons to replicate similar subjects in her paintings: this was a practice also followed by her father, Orazio Gentileschi.

The present painting reveals close stylistic and compositional affinities with another Magdalene, of similar size, which was also initially attributed to Onofrio Palumbo by Spinosa, and later also restored by him to Artemisia (see op. cit. Spinosa, 2015, p. 232, no. 72, ill., as Onoforio Palumbo; and N. Spinosa, in: F. Baldassari/J. Mann/N. Spinosa [eds.], Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2016, p. 232, no. 72, as Artemisia Gentileschi). The latter Magdalene was formerly with Robilant and Voena and then with Giacometti Fine Arts, and is now in a private collection.

The present work, and the ex-Robilant and Voena Penitent Magdalene, both show the saint at the opening of a cave, reclining semi-nude and covered only in part. In accord with the Scriptures, she is shown after her retirement to the desert to live in penance, following the death of Christ. In the present painting, however, the pose of the Magdalene, differs from the ex-Robilant and Voena painting: here she gently rests her head on her right hand as she turns ecstatically to gaze at the sky, which is striated with rose coloured clouds, as she holds out her gesturing left hand as in a dialogue with the Divine. On the rock to the left her typical attributes are depicted: the skull and the ointment jar. Her figure of voluptuously seductive beauty is highlighted by the warm atmospheric light of the setting, and she is partly covered by a pale yellow-gold cloth while she reclines on the sumptuous, deep lapis lazuli blue coloured mantle. The painting presents chromatic solutions of heightened intensity. The application of colour and the solid integrity of the form reveal Artemisia’s pictorial ability. Her careful and compact brush strokes build the sculptural form of the drapery folds, as well as describing the Saint’s hair and from. Her luminous figure is silhouetted against the dark ground and the sweetness of her expression and of her mystic experience, depicting a moment of ecstasy, make this painting an extremely significant addition to Artemisia’s late work.

The present painting has also been compared to another Magdalene by Artemisia in a private collection (see R. Ward Bissel, Artemisia Gentileschi and the authority of art: critical reading and catalogue raisonné, University Park 1999, pp. 228-230, no. 21, fig. 111). The figure is inverted when compared to arrangement of the figure in the present work. Nevertheless, in both works the saint is shown with her legs in the same position and her elbow resting on the stone block in the same way. This compositional format is also similar to the composition of the Penitent Magdalene by Artemisia’s father, Orazio Gentileschi, of circa 1622–1628, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (see fig. 1), as well as his celebrated painting of Danae and the Shower of Gold now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (see fig. 2).

Orazio Gentileschi realised more than one version of his Magdalene and he places the saint in a similar rocky landscape setting to the present composition by Artemisia. The saint is portrayed in front a rocky spur with a landscape in the distance with some of the same objects of the saint’s attributes that are also depicted in Artemisia’s painting. The saint is also shown leaning on a rock and looking up to the sky glorifying the Divine Love and turning away from the earthly things.

Technical analysis:
IR reflectography reveals traces of a thin underdrawing and some small changes, including the position of the left nipple which was originally placed lower.

IR transparency of Mary Magdalen’s cloak is caused by the use of a high-quality ultramarine blue derived from lapis lazuli, which was widely employed in all the blue areas, sometimes mixed with red lake in grey tones, such as in the mountains. The extensive use of ultramarine blue indicates the importance of the present painting, and by inference the commission. The palette also includes ochre, brown earths, vermillion, the latter is used in the clouds mixed with lead white.

We are grateful to Gianluca Poldi for the technical examination of the present painting.


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Auction: Old Master Paintings
Date: 30.04.2019 - 17:00
Location: Vienna | Palais Dorotheum
Exhibition: 20.04. - 30.04.2019


** Purchase price incl. charges and taxes

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