2 years ago

Old Master Paintings, Part 1

standing between

standing between Venus’ knees – a motif with erotic connotations – is holding an earring between his fingers and is looking to the left with a quizzical and expectant expression. His weapons, the bow and quiver, are placed on the floor ready for action. The evening sky visible through the window on the top left suggests that the scene is an evening ambience, the time in which Venus and Cupid are supposed to begin their assignment. A little male amoretto is reaching through the window into the interior to take flowers from a gilt vase – gifts associated with love. The blue colour of the bluebells signifies as a symbol for the initial infatuation leading to fidelity. The scene is lit by an unidentified light source from the top left and especially illuminates the naked parts of the bodies of the figures of the girls or the three graces, while the background is deliberately kept darker. This is to be perceived as a final homage to the chiaroscuro of Caravaggism. The bold, almost Titianlike pink of Venus’ cloak indicates the grandeur and majesty of the goddess and is also the love goddess’ attribute colour red. In contrast with paintings of saints or religious subjects, Reni here had the opportunity to depict nudity of the female body in all its imaginable grace and beauty as is the case in only a few other known works by him; one need only think of his famous The Rape of Europa, for instance, where Europa is being abducted by the bull, but still dressed apart from her chest area (1637-39, National Gallery London). The mastery in the painting on offer for sale in this lot is not only obvious in the charming depiction of the ladies’ faces but also in their soft, flowing postures. Notes: The painting has been documented by several expert reports and surveys by notable Reni researchers. Professor Emiliani from Bologna notes in his letter dated 8 October 2012 that Reni created two versions of The Toilet of Venus subject. One of them is held at the National Gallery in London. The second version from a private collection is on offer for sale in this lot. Emiliani notes that research carried out regarding the London painting revealed that only approximately 20% of the painting were created by Reni himself, whereas 90% of the painting on offer for sale in this lot were created by his own hand with less collaboration by his assistant. He also notes that the present version is the first one to have been created. In the London painting possibly only the figure of Venus was created by Reni himself while the remainder was created by his studio and is hence listed as “studio of Reni” there. For the experts, the stylistic analysis shows that the London painting was created in collaboration with Francesco Gessi and Mahon shares this view. The report by Professor Emiliani, chairman of the Academia Clementina Bologna and Professor Raffaella Morselli (University of Teramo) concludes that the present painting is a “masterpiece (by Reni), that can be regarded as one of the most important paintings of non-religious content of his entire career…”. Provenance: Duke Gonzaga of Mantua Collection. The painting was commissioned by Ferdinando Gonzaga, the Duke of Mantua. The Duke’s collection comprised works by Domenichino, Guercino, Garbieri and Tiarini purchased in the early 17th century and was boosted by acquiring an artwork by the “divine Reni”. Although the painting is not listed in the collection’s inventory of 1627, it is listed in the purchase list of the Duke’s paintings by Daniel Nys, dated 27 March 1627 where it is described as The Three Graces (Luzio, pp. 139 ff.) valued at the time at 300 Scudi, and valued at 400 Scudi in April of the same year. Due to this evaluation the painting was probably transported to England during the course of that same year. It is not listed in a catalogue prepared by Van der Doort for King Charles I (1639) but it is already included in a list for Somerset House dated October 1951 with the title “Venus sitting to be dressed by the Three Graces. Guido. Bullones”. Further sources (Malvasia, Felsina Pittrice, 1678 and 1841) report that after Reni returned to Bologna he worked on a “Venus” for Count Tobia Rossellini of Naples free of charge as the Count was hosting him and his assistant Francesco Gessi in his house. It is likely that both versions of the “Venus” were held at Reni’s workshop in Bologna, one created for the Duke of Mantua, the other for Rossellini. Subsequently Reni worked on other an tique subjects such as the Hercules legend or Nessus and Deianira etc. Penney collection, New York. Heirs to Penney collection, New York. Private collection, New York. Private collection. Exhibitions: Tiziano – Vanitas. The Poet of the Image and the Shade of Beauty, Imperial Stables of Prague Castle, 15 December 2015 – 20 March 2016. Literature: S. Lapenta, R. Morselli, Le Collezioni Gonzaga, La Quadreria nell´Elenco dei beni del 1626-1627, p. 99, 2006, Centro Internazionale d’Arte e di Cultura di Palazzo Te, Mantova. L. Puppi, S. Baccaglini, Tiziano – Vanitas. The Poet of the Image and the Shade of Beauty, exhibition catalogue, p. 32, ill. p. 31, Milan, 2016. € 1.500.000 - € 2.500.000 Sistrix INFO | BID All texts can be translated into your own language on our homepage via Google: 53