Artibus et Historiae no. 11 (VI)

1985, ISSN 0391-9064

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JÓZEF GRABSKI - On Seicento Painting in Naples: Some Observations on Bernardo Cavallino, Artemisia Gentileschi, and Others

1) The Toledo Lot and His Daughters and Its Possible Author. Some Considerations about the Cavallino Exhibition in Cleveland

During the Cavallino Exhibition in Cleveland (1984) many doubts came up about the attribution of the Lot and His Daughters (Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio), to Bernardo Cavallino. The stiffness of the composition as well as other artistic characteristics analyzed in this paper would seem to exclude Cavallino as the possible author. Either F. Guarino or A. Beltrano appear to be a more probable attribution.

2) The Ruffo Triumph of Galatea

The Triumph of Galatea included in the Bernardo Cavallino Exhibition in Cleveland (1984) appears to be hitherto lost but well documented painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, formerly in the Ruffo collection in Messina, painted ca. 1648. As in the Columbus Bathsheba, it would seem to be a product of direct collaboration between Artemisia and Neapolitan painters, in this case Bernardo Cavallino. The overall composition and the figure of Galatea are Artemisia's work; the tritons as well as dolphins are Cavallino's. After leaving the Ruffo collection in the late seventeenth century the painting was cut and adapted to fit a different frame. The painting was inspired by Raphael's Galatea and was a source of inspiration for some later Neapolitan compositions, like paintings by Luca Giordano and Paolo de Matteis. Furthermore some iconological corrections have been proposed: the Triumph of Galatea by de Matteis from Pommersfelden is re-identified as the Marine Venus.

3) The Sleeping Venus and Cleopatra by Artemisia Gentileschi

A stylistic analysis of two paintings by Artemisia contributes to determine a chronology for her oeuvre. The Sleeping Venus with Cupid is to be dated after her stay with Orazio Gentileschi in Genoa, and after her visit to Venice, but before her arrival in Naples, i.e. about 1627-1630. Interesting because of its rarity in Artemisia's work is the symbolical landscape with the temple of Venus.

The Cleopatra betrays some Ribera influences and because of this it is to be dated to the first year of Artemisia's stay in Naples, i.e. about 1630-1632.

Both paintings are also interesting from the iconographic point of view, representing themes dear to Artemisia, where women heroines play the main role, and where the female protagonists are exalted by purely artistic means, and this is also the case for the Ruffo Galatea.

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