This painting repeats a composition by Francesco Solimena which was sold in London, Sotheby's, April 23, 1998, lot 212 (where it was described as an Allegory of Autumn).1 The painting's elongated format would suggest that it was once an overdoor (sovrapporta) and it has been argued that it probably formed part of a set representing the Four Seasons. Prof. Nicola Spinosa had suggested a date of execution in the 1710s for Solimena's original, at a time when Francesco de Mura was apprenticed in his studio.
The subject of the painting had traditionally been identified as an Allegory of Summer, although when the painting mentioned above most recently appeared at auction it was described as an Allegory of Autumn. The painting may, in fact, represent all four seasons: the flowers denoting Spring, the fruit Summer, the grapes and wine-jar Autumn, and the ram Winter.
1 The painting had previously been offered in New York, Sotheby's, June 6, 1985, lot 100 (as by Fedele Fischetti); in London, Sotheby's, December 9, 1992, lot 42 (as by Francesco Solimena); and in New York, Sotheby's, October 17, 1997, lot 20 (as by Francesco Solimena).
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