Lot 49
  • 49

Francesco Solimena

60,000 - 80,000 USD
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  • Francesco Solimena
  • Minerva with Chronos and History: A Study for an Allegory of the Reign of the Hapsburgs in Naples
  • oil on canvas, unframed


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com , an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting has been quite recently restored. The condition seems to be very good and all of the complexities within this comparatively small composition are well preserved. The lining is old but the surface is still well supported and although it is probably still dirty, there is an attractive patina to this work which is unusual and in many people’s view, preferable.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

We are grateful to Professor Nicola Spinosa for confirming this painting to be an autograph work by Solimena, based on a photograph.  He dates it to circa 1705.

While there are several known versions of this composition, Spinosa believes the present one is the closest to the painting considered to be the prime version.  That painting, which was offered for sale at Sotheby's, New York, 23 May 2001, lot 25 and is now in a private collection, Rome, is oil on copper (41.9 by 59.1 cm.) and has a portrait believed to depict King Carlos II of Spain in the medallion.1  It is thought to represent an Allegory of the Reign of the Hapsburgs in Naples and was painted in the last years of Spanish Hapsburg rule in Naples.  The composition depicts Minerva seated upon a lion with Chronos (Father Time) seated at her feet.  An open book rests upon his shoulders where History records the res gestae of the ruler depicted in the medallion held aloft by putti.  In the background stands the Castel Nuovo, Naples, apparently under siege.  Other variants of the composition depict different rulers such as Philippe d'Anjou, Louis XIV's candidate for the Spanish throneand possibly prince Eugene of Savoy.3  The medallion in the present work is empty and Spinosa believes that this painting may have served as a modello di base which the artist could present to a potential client and which would then be filled in with the appropriate portrait of the personage to be glorified.

1.  See W. Prohaska, in Settecento Napoletano, Sulle ali dell'Aquila imperiale 1707-1734, exhibition catalogue, Vienna and Naples 1993-94, cat. no. 33.
2.  See F. Bologna, "La dimensione europea della cultura artistica napoletana nel XVIII secolo," Arti e civilita del Settecento a Napoli, p. 43, passim.
3.  See A. Emiliani, La Pinacoteca di Bologna, 1967, p. 392, reproduced fig. 17.