Painting, executed in tempera on linen, 115 × 52 cm (laid down onto canvas).
The size, shape and medium of this painting indicate that it is a fragment of a banner or telero ritagliato which would have been carried in procession on certain feast days. Originally a triptych, with a representation of the Virgin in the centre (the fabric of her cloak is visible along the left edge of our painting), the banner was cut at an early date and two pieces of almost equal size (115 × 52 cm, 113.5 × 47 cm) are known to survive. Our fragment shows Saint Michael standing over the devil and in the act of weighing souls; the other depicts Saint John the Baptist (Pinacoteca di Ferrara, deposited by Fondazione Carife / Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara). The two fragments are documented as works of Francesco del Cossa (1435/6-circa 1477) in inventories and catalogues of the Costabili collection (1835-1841). The first to express doubts was Nino Barbantini, in 1933, followed by Roberto Longhi, in 1934, who sustained the Ferrarese origins of the artist while discounting any relation to Cossa. The question of authorship continues to attract a variety of suggestions: the Veronese artist Francesco dai Libri (proposed by Vittorio Sgarbi, in publications of 1982-1983; rejected by Sergio Marinelli, in 1990); and Domenico Panetti (proposed by Federico Zeri; cf. Università di Bologna, Fondazione Zeri, Fototeca, scheda 38391).
Two paintings, executed in oil on canvas, each 153 × 191 cm.
Antonio Cinatti is one of several artists who have lately come to notice through investigation of the inventories of the Dal Pozzo picture collection. Eight paintings are attributed to him therein, of which these two depicting large wading birds in marshlands at “Dawn” and “Dusk” are the only ones thus far linked to the documentary evidence. They expand our knowledge of Cassiano dal Pozzo’s prolific collecting and patronage, and indicate how his vast compendium of images on paper (”Museo Cartaceo”) was exploited for the production of natural history paintings. Another six paintings on canvas and eleven oils on paper are attributed to Cinatti in other Roman inventories. Those works, commissioned by Monsignor Jules Mazarin (after 1641 Cardinal Mazarin), Paolo Maccarani, and Prince Camillo Pamphili, still await identification.
Painting, executed in oil on canvas, 74.9 × 60.7 cm.
This “Madonna with the sleeping Christ Child” was one of Sassoferrato’s most popular compositions, and was replicated by him many times, with consistently high quality, also in horizontal and oval formats, reversed, and with the Madonna depicted in Glory and attended by angels. In our variant, the Virgin has chestnut hair, wears a while chemisette and head-dress, a red dress and a blue mantle, and leans her head against her left shoulder. The light and chromatic harmonies of our version are those associated with the autograph works of Sassoferrato. We are grateful to Professor François Macé de Lépinay for his endorsement of the attribution to Sassoferrato on the basis of photographs. He will include this painting in his forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the works of the artist.
Painting, executed in oil on canvas, 128.5 × 96 cm.
“Phryne tempting Xenocrates” is a typical work of Rosa’s late Roman period, reflecting the artist’s absorption with Stoic and Cynic philosophy, and ambition to be known as a sober and philosophical painter of cose morali. The incident depicted is described by Diogenes Laertius (IV, 7) and repeated by Valerius Maximus (LIV, III, 3). According to these sources, Phryne – a courtesan noted for her great beauty – made a wager that she could successfully seduce the philosopher Xenocrates, a disciple of Plato known for his personal dignity and self-restraint. One night Phryne went to the house of this virtuous man claiming to seek refuge from pursuers in the street. Out of compassion for her plight, Xenocrates admitted her, and allowed Phryne to share the couch in his room. But all her female charms could not make the philosopher depart from his strict principles. Eventually Phryne gave up and left the house, telling all who inquired that Xenocrates was not a man but a statue.
For many years, Rosa’s “Phryne tempting Xenocrates” was assumed lost, known only from an account provided by Rosa’s contemporary and biographer, Giovanni Battista Passeri, and by the reproductive print made in 1770 after a version once in the Bessborough collection in England. In 1966, Luigi Salerno discovered our painting in a private collection in Rome, and in 1975, he introduced it into the artist’s catalogue raisonné. It appeared on the market in Sotheby’s, London, 11 April 1990, lot 136. Two other versions have since some to light: one, attributed to “Follower of Salvator Rosa”, was sold in Sotheby’s New York, 17 January 1986, lot 5 ($3410); the other was offered in Christie’s, London, 3 December 1997, lot 72, returning there, 18 November 2015, lot 111 (£152,500).