Lot 36
  • 36

Sebastiano Conca

140,000 - 180,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Sebastiano Conca
  • The Holy Trinity and saints in glory, a sketch for a ceiling
  • oil on canvas


With Heim Gallery, London, 1967;
With Carrol Gallery, Munich, 1981;
Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 25 January 2001, lot 188.


London, Heim Gallery, Baroque sketches, drawings & sculptures. Autumn exhibition, 7 November - 24 December 1967, no. 24 (as Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini);
Gaeta, Palazzo del Vio, Sebastiano Conca, 1680-1764, July - October 1981, no. 54 (as Conca).


G. Sestieri, Sebastiano Conca, 1680-1764, exhibition catalogue, Gaeta 1981, p. 192, cat. no. 54, reproduced p. 193 (as Conca).

Catalogue Note

This detailed oil sketch first came to light in 1967 when it was exhibited at Heim Gallery with an attribution to Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (see Exhibited).  The painting was later recognized as the work of Sebastiano Conca by Giancarlo Sestieri in 1981 and was included in an exhibition of the painter’s works in his home city of Gaeta (see Exhibited).  While no corresponding decoration has been identified to date, this composition was undoubtedly a bozzetto for a ceiling design.  Not only is the celestial subject well suited for the purpose, the poses of the foreshortened figures, framed by tumbling putti, are clearly intended to be viewed from below.

While heavily influenced by Luca Giordano, this sketch also displays the close relation of Conca’s working technique with that of his contemporary Corrado Giaquinto.  Despite the similarities, however, Giaquinto’s diaphanous coloration and transparent draperies contrast with Conca’s rich modeling and dynamic forms.1 Conca’s palette is muted and he instead employs light and modeling to create a rich surface.  The undulating folds of drapery and twisting poses in this painting create an illusion of vitality and motion, a feat that was not always realized in Conca’s finished large-scale frescoes.2  Sestieri dates this canvas between 1730 and 1735, citing its affinity with other sketches by the artist, his Triumph of the Church, in the Museo Duca di Martina, Naples, his Assumption of the Virgin in the Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples and his Allegory, formerly in the Schaffer collection, New York.3 Each of these bozzetti can be dated stylistically to within a decade of the present painting.  Like this sketch, the eventual locations for their finished iterations has yet to be determined, but in themselves these bozzetti provide a fascinating and detailed insight into the artist’s preparatory methods.

1.  G. Sestieri, under Literature.
2.  Ibid.
3.  Ibid., pp. 190-191, 194-197, cat. nos. 53, 55, 56, reproduced pp. 191, 195, 197.