Artibus et Historiae no. 12 (VI)

1985, ISSN 0391-9064

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BENEDICT NICOLSON - Orazio Gentileschi and Giovanni Antonio Sauli

In 1977 three canvases by Orazio Gentileschi turned up in London. Their subjects paralleled a passage of the Genoese historian R. Soprani (1674), who mentions a Penitent Magdalene, a Lot and His Daughters and a Danae as the first canvases painted by the artist for his patron Giovanni Antonio Sauli, when he followed him to Genoa (1621 to 1623/4). Benedict Nicolson compares the style of these with that of variants and derivations such as the Magdalenes at Broomhall/New York, Dijon, Lucca and Vienna, the Lots and His Daughters in Berlin, Bilbao, Ottawa and Burghley House, the Danae in the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Berlin and the Cleveland pictures he assumes to be autograph versions executed in Genoa - the latter being possibly the picture known to have been sent from Genoa to Marie de' Medici, Queen of France, and the former a gift of the Cardinal of Savoy to the Marqués de Leganés - whereas the Ottawa picture must have been painted by Gentileschi in France (1624/26) or on arrival in England. The change from the painterly approach of the three Sauli canvases to enamel-like forms and clarity of definition testifies to Gentileschi's development from a romantic view of the world towards an idiosyncratic classicism, as he approaches the English shores.

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