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Lot No. 47


Artemisia Gentileschi


(Rome 1593–1653 Naples)
Judith and her maidservant with the head of Holofernes,
oil on canvas, 115 x 116.4 cm, framed

Provenance:
(probably) private collection, Lombardy;
Private European collection, since early 1980s

Possible Literature:
G. Papi, in: Artemisia, exhibition catalogue, ed. by R. Contini, G. Papi, Milan 1991, p. 102, cited under cat. no. 4, not illustrated (probably a copy on the basis of a photograph);
R. Ward Bissell, Artemisia Gentileschi and the Authority of Art, University Park Pennsylvania 1999, p. 324, cited under cat. no. X-15, not illustrated (as probably a copy)

The present painting is registered in the Fototeca Zeri under no. 46682 (as Artemisia Gentileschi, attr.).

We are grateful to Riccardo Lattuada for confirming the attribution after examining the present painting in the original and for his help in cataloguing this lot.

We are also grateful to Pierluigi Carofano for independently confirming the attribution after examining the present painting in the original and for his help in cataloguing this lot.

The present painting relates to the composition of Judith and her maidservant with the head of Holofernes by Orazio Gentileschi, now in the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut (see fig. 1, oil on canvas, 136.5 x 159.1 cm). The Hartford painting has been dated to between 1621 and 1624 due to the fact that the work was partially recorded by Van Dyck in his Italian Sketchbook, folio 115v, British Museum, London. This also suggests that Orazio made the painting while he was in Genoa, where Van Dyck would have seen it (see K. Christiansen, in: Orazio e Artemisia Gentileschi, exhibition catalogue, ed. by K. Christiansen, J.W. Mann, Milan 2001, p. 189, no. 40).

A derivation of the Hartford painting is conserved in the Pinacoteca Vaticana (see fig. 2, oil on canvas, 123 x 142 cm) which is largely considered to be an autograph version by Orazio (see G. Papi in literature, pp. 99–102), possibly made together with studio assistants using a ‘spolvero’, or cartoon.

The subject of Judith and Holofernes plays a significant role in Artemisia’s oeuvre including the celebrating paintings of Judith and her maidservant in Palazzo Pitti, Florence (inv. no. 398) and Judith and her maidservant with the head of Holofernes, Detroit Institute of Arts (inv. no. 52.253). In these works, as in the present one, Judith is not depicted looking directly out, but away to the side, as if to avoid contact with the viewer’s gaze. In the present painting, the expression on Judith’s face is intense and powerful and she appears to be almost frowning, creating a strong impact. It has been argued that Artemisia, as a woman painter, finds in her female characters and especially in Judith, models of liberation, women of action who influenced the world rather than retreated from it (see M. D. Garrard, Artemisia Gentileschi, Princeton 1989, p. 279).

Artemisia often used innovations and ideas from her father during the course of her career, although she added her own interpretation and dramatic touch, as can be seen here for example in the portrait of the maidservant Abra, and in the unique expression of Judith. The painting echoes the work and composition of Orazio but it has its own unique character, particularly in the depiction of the protagonists and their apparent psychological strength.

The present painting almost exactly repeats the composition of the two versions of Judith in Hartford and in the Vatican; it is also similar to these in scale. The Hartford painting now measures 136.5 x 159.1 cm; however, it has been suggested that it has been enlarged and originally would have measured about 124.5 x 146 cm and therefore not far in size from the Vatican painting (see op. cit. Christiansen, 2001, p. 186). The Vatican canvas is 123 x 142 cm and may give a clearer idea of Orazio Gentileschi’s original composition. These observations may indicate that the present painting may have been reduced along the lower edge and right side.

Both Lattuada and Carofano date the present work to the end of the 1630s, following Artemisia’s return from London, after the death of her father. As such Artemisia adopted a concept and elaborated on it in an entirely personal manner. Although based on the cartoons and studio materials inherited from her father, the composition is constructed around volumes which elaborate the use of chiaroscuro in broadly drawn outlines of the parts. Indeed, Artemisia adopted a similar painting technique for the Susanna and the elders, now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna, and in the Allegory of Painting in the Royal Collection, London. Here in the present composition the use of light and shade create a brilliance in the expressions of the figures, similar to the works of Artemisia’s second Roman period.

According to Carofano and Lattuada, Orazio travelled with the cartoon for the composition from Genoa to France and then onto England, where Artemisia was certainly able to witness its use for the Allegory of Fortitude created for the ceiling of Marlborough House, London (see Ward Bissell in literature, pp. 271–272, no. 41). It was while she worked in collaboration with Orazio on the ceiling of the Queen’s House that Artemisia had the use of the cartoons of her father’s most successful compositions, including that for Judith, and it is entirely plausible that she would have taken these precious records with her when she returned to Italy. Artemisia’s use of cartoons, especially during the period of her mature work in Naples, is attested to by the existence of multiple versions of her most commercially successful and best-known works.

It should be noted that the same cartoon used for Judith was also used for the Young woman with a violin now in the Detroit Institute of Art, which is also a work from to Orazio’s Genoese period (see fig. 3).

The principal difference between the Hartford and Vatican versions and this painting by Artemisia lies in the style of execution. In the present painting the application of paint is thicker, the chiaroscuro is more marked and contrasting, and achieved by making use of the ground preparation. The most evident difference in Artemisia’s work depends on the use of a denser pictorial impasto, that stands apart from the crystalline, at times almost glass-like, paint surfaces achieved by Orazio Gentileschi during his final period. The canvas used for the present work could be of Roman or Neapolitan origin.

The painting here under discussion is executed with a vigour that differentiates it from other known derivations, such as the Judith formerly in the Jandolo collection, Rome, and then with Sotheby’s, Milan (8 October 1993, lot 197, oil on canvas, 110 x 137 cm) or the studio version on the art market, Prato, in 1998 (Fototeca Zeri, no. 46681, oil on canvas, 102 x 170.7 cm). The present painting is characterised by a pictorial density that reinterprets the subject and therefore the specific identity of an individual hand can be recognized and identified as its quality is greater than that of any studio copyist.

The existence of these versions demonstrates the success of Orazio’s innovative composition, and the emergence of the present painting is not only of great interest in determining the success of one of Orazio Gentileschi’s most original compositions, but also for the assessment of the reinterpretation of his works by his daughter, Artemisia, and the inspiration she derived from her father over the course of her extensive and highly successful career.

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

mark.macdonnell@dorotheum.at

08.06.2021 - 16:00

Realized price: **
EUR 344,900.-
Estimate:
EUR 300,000.- to EUR 400,000.-

Artemisia Gentileschi


(Rome 1593–1653 Naples)
Judith and her maidservant with the head of Holofernes,
oil on canvas, 115 x 116.4 cm, framed

Provenance:
(probably) private collection, Lombardy;
Private European collection, since early 1980s

Possible Literature:
G. Papi, in: Artemisia, exhibition catalogue, ed. by R. Contini, G. Papi, Milan 1991, p. 102, cited under cat. no. 4, not illustrated (probably a copy on the basis of a photograph);
R. Ward Bissell, Artemisia Gentileschi and the Authority of Art, University Park Pennsylvania 1999, p. 324, cited under cat. no. X-15, not illustrated (as probably a copy)

The present painting is registered in the Fototeca Zeri under no. 46682 (as Artemisia Gentileschi, attr.).

We are grateful to Riccardo Lattuada for confirming the attribution after examining the present painting in the original and for his help in cataloguing this lot.

We are also grateful to Pierluigi Carofano for independently confirming the attribution after examining the present painting in the original and for his help in cataloguing this lot.

The present painting relates to the composition of Judith and her maidservant with the head of Holofernes by Orazio Gentileschi, now in the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut (see fig. 1, oil on canvas, 136.5 x 159.1 cm). The Hartford painting has been dated to between 1621 and 1624 due to the fact that the work was partially recorded by Van Dyck in his Italian Sketchbook, folio 115v, British Museum, London. This also suggests that Orazio made the painting while he was in Genoa, where Van Dyck would have seen it (see K. Christiansen, in: Orazio e Artemisia Gentileschi, exhibition catalogue, ed. by K. Christiansen, J.W. Mann, Milan 2001, p. 189, no. 40).

A derivation of the Hartford painting is conserved in the Pinacoteca Vaticana (see fig. 2, oil on canvas, 123 x 142 cm) which is largely considered to be an autograph version by Orazio (see G. Papi in literature, pp. 99–102), possibly made together with studio assistants using a ‘spolvero’, or cartoon.

The subject of Judith and Holofernes plays a significant role in Artemisia’s oeuvre including the celebrating paintings of Judith and her maidservant in Palazzo Pitti, Florence (inv. no. 398) and Judith and her maidservant with the head of Holofernes, Detroit Institute of Arts (inv. no. 52.253). In these works, as in the present one, Judith is not depicted looking directly out, but away to the side, as if to avoid contact with the viewer’s gaze. In the present painting, the expression on Judith’s face is intense and powerful and she appears to be almost frowning, creating a strong impact. It has been argued that Artemisia, as a woman painter, finds in her female characters and especially in Judith, models of liberation, women of action who influenced the world rather than retreated from it (see M. D. Garrard, Artemisia Gentileschi, Princeton 1989, p. 279).

Artemisia often used innovations and ideas from her father during the course of her career, although she added her own interpretation and dramatic touch, as can be seen here for example in the portrait of the maidservant Abra, and in the unique expression of Judith. The painting echoes the work and composition of Orazio but it has its own unique character, particularly in the depiction of the protagonists and their apparent psychological strength.

The present painting almost exactly repeats the composition of the two versions of Judith in Hartford and in the Vatican; it is also similar to these in scale. The Hartford painting now measures 136.5 x 159.1 cm; however, it has been suggested that it has been enlarged and originally would have measured about 124.5 x 146 cm and therefore not far in size from the Vatican painting (see op. cit. Christiansen, 2001, p. 186). The Vatican canvas is 123 x 142 cm and may give a clearer idea of Orazio Gentileschi’s original composition. These observations may indicate that the present painting may have been reduced along the lower edge and right side.

Both Lattuada and Carofano date the present work to the end of the 1630s, following Artemisia’s return from London, after the death of her father. As such Artemisia adopted a concept and elaborated on it in an entirely personal manner. Although based on the cartoons and studio materials inherited from her father, the composition is constructed around volumes which elaborate the use of chiaroscuro in broadly drawn outlines of the parts. Indeed, Artemisia adopted a similar painting technique for the Susanna and the elders, now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna, and in the Allegory of Painting in the Royal Collection, London. Here in the present composition the use of light and shade create a brilliance in the expressions of the figures, similar to the works of Artemisia’s second Roman period.

According to Carofano and Lattuada, Orazio travelled with the cartoon for the composition from Genoa to France and then onto England, where Artemisia was certainly able to witness its use for the Allegory of Fortitude created for the ceiling of Marlborough House, London (see Ward Bissell in literature, pp. 271–272, no. 41). It was while she worked in collaboration with Orazio on the ceiling of the Queen’s House that Artemisia had the use of the cartoons of her father’s most successful compositions, including that for Judith, and it is entirely plausible that she would have taken these precious records with her when she returned to Italy. Artemisia’s use of cartoons, especially during the period of her mature work in Naples, is attested to by the existence of multiple versions of her most commercially successful and best-known works.

It should be noted that the same cartoon used for Judith was also used for the Young woman with a violin now in the Detroit Institute of Art, which is also a work from to Orazio’s Genoese period (see fig. 3).

The principal difference between the Hartford and Vatican versions and this painting by Artemisia lies in the style of execution. In the present painting the application of paint is thicker, the chiaroscuro is more marked and contrasting, and achieved by making use of the ground preparation. The most evident difference in Artemisia’s work depends on the use of a denser pictorial impasto, that stands apart from the crystalline, at times almost glass-like, paint surfaces achieved by Orazio Gentileschi during his final period. The canvas used for the present work could be of Roman or Neapolitan origin.

The painting here under discussion is executed with a vigour that differentiates it from other known derivations, such as the Judith formerly in the Jandolo collection, Rome, and then with Sotheby’s, Milan (8 October 1993, lot 197, oil on canvas, 110 x 137 cm) or the studio version on the art market, Prato, in 1998 (Fototeca Zeri, no. 46681, oil on canvas, 102 x 170.7 cm). The present painting is characterised by a pictorial density that reinterprets the subject and therefore the specific identity of an individual hand can be recognized and identified as its quality is greater than that of any studio copyist.

The existence of these versions demonstrates the success of Orazio’s innovative composition, and the emergence of the present painting is not only of great interest in determining the success of one of Orazio Gentileschi’s most original compositions, but also for the assessment of the reinterpretation of his works by his daughter, Artemisia, and the inspiration she derived from her father over the course of her extensive and highly successful career.

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

mark.macdonnell@dorotheum.at


Buyers hotline Mon.-Fri.: 9.00am - 6.00pm
old.masters@dorotheum.at

+43 1 515 60 403
Auction: Old Master Paintings I
Date: 08.06.2021 - 16:00
Location: Vienna | Palais Dorotheum
Exhibition: 29.05. - 08.06.2021


** Purchase price incl. charges and taxes

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