Lot 171
  • 171

Francisco Bayeu y Subias Zaragoza 1734 - 1795 Madrid

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  • Francisco Bayeu y Subias
  • Heroes and Heroines of the Old Testament
  • a pair, both oil on canvas


Collection of Count of Romanones;
Private collection, New York, from whom acquired by Stair Sainty.

Catalogue Note

In spite of the complexity of these compositions, all of the figures depicted in this pair of bozzetti have been identified.  In the first canvas, the biblical figures all relate to David, who is shown on the right, playing the harp.  To David's left, Solomon is seated on a cloud and holds an architect's baton, which identifies him as the builder of the temple of Jerusalem.  The center of the composition illustrates the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, and Ruth and Boaz are shown on the left.  The second composition comprises figures relating to Moses, who is standing in the center with his left arm outstretched, and just below him are the Tables of the Law supported by angels.  On the right, Noah gazes upward at the dove announcing the end of the flood, and Joshua, who led the Israelites into battle against the Canaanites and is shown in full armor, kneels and holds up his military baton.  On the left, Deborah, the only female judge in the Old Testament, sits holding a book in front of Barak, the military leader who required her advice before leading the army into battle.  Two more female heroines are represented on the left: Jael, who holds the nail with which she defeated the Canaanite general, and Judith, who holds the head of the Assyrian general Holofernes, which she severed from his body after seducing him. 

These two compositions display the influence of Corrado Giaquinto on Bayeu.  In particular, they relate closely to the older master's decoration programs in the cupolas of the Cesena Cathedral and the Chapel of the Royal Palace, Madrid.  It has been suggested in a private communication from Xavier Bray that these works are in fact those listed in the inventory of Bayeu's collection as "David y oltros varias figures del antiguo testamento, copia de Corrado," rather than the related picture currently preserved in the Real Sociedad Economica Aragonesa de Amigos del Pais, Zaragoza.