Lot 35
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Benedetto Gennari

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  • Benedetto Gennari
  • Diana and Endymion
  • oil on canvas


Painted in Paris between 1672 and 1674 for Armand-Jean, Duc de Richelieu (1629–1715), but never delivered, then taken to London by the artist and presented to King Charles II (1630–85) shortly after his arrival on 24 September 1674;

In the Royal apartments at Whitehall, where hung in the same room as Gennari’s Cleopatra, and subsequently (circa 1677) with his Danae, according to the artist’s Raccolta di memorie;

King James II (1633–1701), Whitehall Palace, 1688, No. 177;

King William III (1650–1702), Whitehall Palace, Storeroom;

Queen Anne (1665–1714), Kensington Palace, Storeroom;

George I (1660–1727), Somerset House, 1714 and then moved to the ‘Blue Room’, St James’s Palace, probably before 1723;

George III (1738–1820), St James’s Palace, hanging in the Wardrobe by c. 1785; thereafter hanging on the King of Denmark’s Staircase, Kensington Palace, c. 1785–90;

Then recorded in the King’s Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, 1790–95;

Ernst Augustus of Hanover (1771–1851), Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg; St James’s Palace, The Duke of Cumberland’s Apartments, 1819;

Who acceded to the throne of Hanover as King Ernst August I in 1837, in which year or shortly after he and his possessions moved to Hanover;

Incorporated in the entailment that he created in 1843 entitled the Ernst-August Fidei Commiss (a transcription of whose monogram EAFC is stencilled to the reverse of the relining canvas);

His son, Georg V (1819–78), King of Hanover and 2nd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, 1857, located in the Welfenmuseum, Hanover (and possibly earlier at Herrenhausen);

His son Ernst August II (1845–1923), Crown Prince of Hanover and 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, located in the Provinzialmuseum, Hanover until after 1905;

His youngest son Ernst August III (1887–1953), Crown Prince of Hanover, created Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg (of the second creation) on the occasion of his marriage to Victoria Louise of Prussia in 1913;

Fideikommiss-Galerie des Gesamthauses Braunschweg-Lüneburg, no. 8;

Their sale, Berlin, Cassirer & Helbing, 27–28 April 1926, lot 58 (as by Guercino, the Cumberland label with no. 58 affixed to the stretcher is from the sale);

Acquired at the sale by Gösta Stenman, Stockholm;

With Karl F. Helsten & Co., Helsinki, 1926;

By whom sold in that year to Konsul L. Baumgartner, Finland;

Thence by inheritance to the present owner.


An Alphabet of Painters Names, mention’d in the Kings Catalogue of Pictures. ano. 1687. whose workes were then in ye Royal Collection. in the palaces of Windsor Whitehall St. Jamess &c.: <Genaro>… dito. a large peice Endymion & Diana wth a Cupid…, (the so-called ‘Inventory of Charles I collection 1687–88’, transcribed by George Vertue in his Notebooks of 1736–41, published in the Walpole Society volumes [see below]);

B. Gennari, Raccolta di memorie del pittore Benedetto Gennari, Ms., Bologna, Biblioteca Communale dell’Archiginnasio, Cartaceo, after 1709 (where Gennari appears to have transcribed an earlier manuscript);

G. Vertue, Notebook A.q., 1736–41, Add. Ms. 23071, British Library, London, 1736–41, published in the Walpole Society volumes (see below);

A Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures belonging to King James the Second; To which is added, a Catalogue of the Pictures and Drawings in the Closet of the Late Queen Caroline, London 1758, no. 177: By Genaro A large piece of the story of Endymion and Diana with a Cupid

AN INVENTORY OF THE Pictures, Figures, and Statues IN THE ROYAL PALACES OF WHITEHALL, WINDSOR Castle, Hampton court, Somerset House, and St James. Ms. closely dependent and probably based on James II's inventory, drawn up in the reign of William III, 1688–1702, p. 7: Store room between the Gallery & Banquetting house / 178 Endimion, Diana & Cupid, Large. Gennaro;

A List of Her Majesties Pictures in Kensington Hampton Court and Windsor Castle, 1705–1710, p. 17: Kensington In the Store Room / Genaro (no.) 62 Diana and Endiminian with a Cupid a large piece;

The Pictures in the Store Rooms at Somerset House October: 28: 1714, p. 3: no 13 In Yellow Damask Room / Genaro Diana and Endimion with a Cupid a large piece from Kens: Sto: No 62 (copy of Add. Ms. 19933, British Library, London);

Royal Pictures at Kensington Hampton Court Windsor & St James’s, probably before 1723: La Chambre Bleüe / Gennary Cyntie et Endymion / au dessus de La Porte (typescript copy of Stowe Ms. 567, British Library, London);  

Catalogue of Pictures Windsor Castle, & Hampton Court 1776, probably drawn up c. 1785, Inventory of pictures at St James’s: fols. 30v–46, fol. 38: The Wardrobe / Diana and Endimion [  ] Gennari [  ] 5 [  ] 9 / 7 [  ] ;

A Catalogue of His Majesty's Pictures at Kensington Palace, probably drawn up c. 1785–90, but with later pencil notes: The King of Denmark’s Stair-case / 19 [  ] Diana & Endymion  Genari;

Knight’s Guide, Windsor 1790, 1793 & 1795 editions, as in the King’s Drawing Room at Windsor, Endymion & Diana [ ] Gennari;

Catalogue of the Pictures at Saint James’s palace, composed after the death of Queen Charlotte 17 November 1818 and in part after the death of George III on 24 January 1820, in Catalogue of the Pictures at the Late Queens House Saint James’s Park and St James’s Palace, 1819: No 1039  Diana and Endymion  Gerardon  Canvas 5 – 9 ½ [   ] 7 – 4  Good;

Catalogue of His Majestys Pictures (items 1011–88 copied from previous inventory, but with later notes made 6 July 1828 to 19 December 1835), p. 231: His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland’s Apartments / No 1039 Diana and Endymion [  ] Girardon / Canvas 5 ft 9½ in x 7 ft 4 in good;

Familien Fideicommiss Sr. Majestät des hochsel. Königs Ernst August v. Hannover. 1843. 1846., Hanover 1855 (Manuscript inventory, Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv-Hauptstaatsarchiv Hannover, Dep. 103, XX, Nr. 122): [Fol. 54v] Nr. 951 Diana und Amor neben dem schlafenden Endimion. Diana senkt sich zu dem schlafenden Endymion herab, dabei zwei Amoretten. Figuren/ in Lebensgröße. Oelgemälde.
[Fol.55r] as exhibited at Herrenhausen (crossed out) Welfenmuseum;

C.D. Vogel & C.W.F. Wagner, Das Königliche Welfen-Museum zu Hannover im Jahre 1863, Hannover 1864, p. 78, as unknown. […] 52. Der schlafende Endymion mit Diana und zwei Amorinen. Figuren lebensgross;

Dr. Eisenmann, Katalog der zum Ressort der Königlichen Verwaltungs-Kommission gehörigen Sammlung von Gemälden, Skulpturen und Alterthümern im Provinzial-Museumsgebäude an der Prinzenstraße Nr. 4 zu Hannover, vol. III, Gemälde-Sammlung, Hannover 1891, p. 67;

Dr. Reimers, Katalog der zur Fideikommiss-Galerie des Gesamthauses Braunschweig und Lüneburg gehörigen Sammlung von Gemälden und Skulpturen im Provinzial-Museum, Rudolf v. Bennigsenstr. 1, zu Hannover, Hannover 1905, p. 22, no. 8 (as by Guercino);

General-Verzeichnis der zum Königlichen Ernst-August-Fideikommiss gehörigen Gegenstände (new ed. of the 1855 inventory above with Supplements, Gmunden, Oktober 1905 (Manuscript inventory, Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv-Hauptstaatsarchiv Hannover, Dep. 103, XX, Nr. 122; Schloss Marienburg, Archiv, Pattensen): [Fol. 214v] Nr. 1107 (1855: 951) Diana senkt sich zu dem schlafenden Endymion herab; dabei zwei  Amoretten. Figuren in Lebensgröße. Oelgemälde.; [Fol. 215r] Ort der Aufstellung: 
Fideikommiß-Galerie des Gesamthauses Braunschweig-Lüneburg, Hannover, Nr. A 165

Walpole Society, vol. XXIV, 1935–36, Oxford 1936, p. 91, where George Vertue’s transcription of the Royal inventory of 1687 is transcribed;

P. Bagni, Benedetto Gennari e la bottega del Guercino, Bologna 1986, pp. 74, 145–46, 147 (transcription of Benedetto Gennari’s Raccolta di memorie);

N. Roio, in E. Negro, M. Pirondini & N. Roio, La Scuola di Guercino, Modena 2005, pp. 143, 145, 166 (as a lost work recorded by Gennari in his Raccolta di memorie).


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Benedetto Gennari. Diana and Endymion. This painting has an extremely strong fairly recent stretcher and probably a triple lining, with a restoration apparently of this century. There is one original central seam. The deeply romantic figures and moonlit landscape are frequently well preserved despite being interspersed with the various accidental damages large paintings are prone to. The hazards faced by large paintings in general, and especially paintings having travelled widely in the past may also include wear and over restoration, which is not the case with this painting. Diana's head is beautifully intact, as is much of Endymion's sleeping face and his hair, although with one narrow tear in his cheek. The fine modelling of his body, his hand and legs is also unworn, but interrupted by a succession of little vertical retouched damages in his chest and a long central tear, visible under ultra violet light. In other areas also fine paint is interspersed with old accidental damages, with various long horizontal tears narrowly retouched in the upper part of the picture especially, and scattered smaller retouchings elsewhere throughout. Diana's lower arm has clusters of retouchings, with multiple little retouches in her drapery, as also in his. Cupid below has been rather spared while the cupid above in the upper left corner has unusually suffered damages affecting the paint surface in the head. There are several large damages at the right edge. The beautiful upper landscape and central areas of the figures remain extremely fine. This report was not done under laboratory conditions. Conservation work undertaken by Simon Folkes in April 2014: Cleaning The darkened yellow varnish and much old and discoloured overpaint were removed with a solvent mixture of Industrial Methylated Spirits and White Spirit (1:3). More stubborn overpaint was removed with a scalpel, ammonia & water (1:10) or sodium hydroxide in methylated spirits. Old fillings were also removed either by dissolving them in an aqueous solution or removing them manually with a scalpel. Intermediate varnish Following cleaning, the paint surface was given a brushed coat of Laropal K80, a synthetic resin picture varnish soluble in white spirit. Filling Losses across the painting were filled with a putty made from whiting, gelatine and stand oil. Retouching All losses were in-painted in dry pigments ground in Paraloid B72 to match the original dark red ground colour. Base colours were also applied using Paraloid B72 with glazes and minor local retouching done with Laropal K80 as the medium. Final varnish The painting was given a spray coat of Laropal K80 to even out the surface followed later by a matt application using the same varnish.
"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

This is an important lost work by Gennari: his only surviving history piece from his first stay in Paris, recorded in the artist’s own memoirs, presented by him to King Charles II in London in 1674, and with an unbroken provenance since it was painted. 

Gennari recounts the circumstances of the commissioning of this picture and its subsequent history in his Raccolta di memorie preserved in manuscript in Bologna, Biblioteca Communale.1 He lists the works he painted in Paris in sequence following his arrival in 1672; but he mentions the Diana and Endymion as number fifteen at the end of his list as a work he had forgotten to mention earlier, so we cannot assume it was painted at the end of his Paris sojourn. The greatest likelihood is that it was painted in 1673 or in the spring of 1674, since he did not reach London until the 24 September:

5. Mi ero scordato il quadro qui sotto fatto a Parigi.
Un quadro grande per il Sig. Duca di Risciliú d’un Endimione e dianna che poi li ebbe perché fatto chef u alcuni miei amici mi consigliarono a non mandarglielo altrimenti a casa come egli ne fece istanza dicendomi ch havuto il quadro non l’avrebbe pagato mai, e cosí risolvendo io improvvisamente prima del ritorno mio in Italia vedere la corte d’Inghilterra partij da Parigi portando con me detto quadro, et arivato ne feci presente a quell Re Carlo Secondo che al maggior segno lo gradí.2

This passage is interesting for a number of reasons. Having accepted a commission from the Duc de Richelieu for this painting, his only large-scale history painting done during his first Paris sojourn, and the only surviving picture from this period other than portraits, he was counselled by his friends not to deliver it on the basis that once installed in his palace the Duc would not pay for it. Armand-Jean, Duc de Richelieu was the great nephew and heir of Cardinal Richelieu (1629–1725), but he had been forced to sell his collection to Louis XIV in 1665 following a gambling loss. In assembling a second collection in the 1670s, when he acquired works by Rubens and Poussin, he was advised by Roger de Piles. It is unclear why the Duc was considered a credit-risk by Gennari’s friends, but his earlier improvidence gives a possible hint.

Gennari then decided on the spur of the moment (‘improvvisamente’) to bring the Diana and Endymion with him to England to present to Charles II.3 One might think that such a move would have been planned by Gennari in order to elicit commissions from the King, which would lead to a longer stay in London. Both of these things came to pass, but Gennari implies in the passage quoted above that he made a late decision to visit the English court on his way back to Italy. In an earlier passage preceding his entry for no. 15, he made his intentions abundantly clear. After sixteen months in Paris he and Signor Franceso Riva resolved to pass ‘a month or slightly more’ in England before returning to Paris and proceeding directly to Italy. In fact, Gennari, Riva and the Bolognese Nobleman Count Antonio Giuseppe Zambeccari departed from Paris on 11 September 1674, arriving in London a fortnight later, on Monday 24 September, and even allowing for the compression of events recounted at a later date, he seems to have been given commissions from the King relatively swiftly, starting with a portrait of the King’s ‘favorita’, Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth.

Gennari mentions the painting again in his Raccolta di memorie, in his listing of paintings done while in London between 1674 and 1688 under his entry for no. 4, a half-length Cleopatra (fig. 1), which the King had placed in the same room in which the Endymion was already hanging:

4.  Un quadro meza figura d’una Cleopatra sedente sopra il letto in atto di volersi dar la morte col serpe e questo fatto per il Re [che lo fece mettere nella stanza dove già tenea l’altro mio quadro dell’Endimione presentatoli quando arivai in Inghilterra].

No Cleopatra by Gennari remains in the Royal Collection today, and there are two possible candidates for the work Gennari lists. Both are of upright format and similar dimensions, and of similar composition, but neither with an early provenance. Nicosetta Roio thinks that the picture now in The Victoria Art Gallery, Bath is the most likely candidate, believing it to be slightly earlier in style than the picture sold in these Rooms, 3 July 1997, lot 142, which may correspond to one of the later Cleopatras painted by Gennari in England, such as the one listed as no. 117 in the Raccolta di memorie, painted for a Mister Guin.4  The style of the painting sold in these Rooms, and in particular the physiognomy of Cleopatra, accords closely with the Danae painted in 1676–77 for Charles II and now at Hampton Court.5 That picture is no. 24 in Gennari’s Raccolta di memorie, where he mentions the present Diana and Endymion for the third and last time, noting that both pictures were hung in the King’s new apartment (sometimes called the ‘secret’ apartment) in Whitehall. Following a detailed description of the Danae, Gennari wrote:

Questo quadro l’ebbe Sua Maestà poi l’à fatto pore nel suo nuovo apartamento in Witeal col’altro del Endimione che li presentai.

The Danae is a large picture (alquanto grande), and though not of identical dimensions to the present work, the sizes are sufficiently similar that they could have been displayed as pendants.

The catalogue published in 1758 (thus long after the fact) of James II’s collection was transcribed from a book in the possession of Robert, Earl of Oxford, probably made for the King’s own use. The transcription belonged to George Vertue, and was in his deceased sale. Second only to Gennari’s own vivacious notes, we are indebted to George Vertue for an account of the artist’s activities in London. In the transcription of Vol. I of Vertue’s manuscript notebook kept in the British Museum, we learn that, according to the Earl of Oxford, ‘Benedetto. Genari. an Italian painter of Historys came here in K. C. 2ds. Time & painted Many pieces several are in the Kings Wardrobe among the stores of pictures. A Danäe & a shepherd & his Mistress. such kind of pieces he being an amorous Man.  was jealous of his Mistress he had. & was unwilling to let the King see her.6 

The 1687 Royal inventory and subsequent inventories list a work by Gennari depicting a Diana and Endymion with a Cupid. That three figures are mentioned rather than the customary two makes it easy to identify the present picture, with its unusually large and prominent Cupid, with the work described.

The absence of any other surviving history pictures by Gennari from his first Paris period hinders a precise assessment of this picture in terms of his artistic development. Apart from portraits, his later works done before he left Bologna in 1672 are firmly rooted in the style of his second cousin and mentor Guercino, to whom the present picture has been attributed in the past. Many of his works done then are copies of altarpieces by Guercino, and copies of Guercino’s self-portraits. His paintings done in London are quite different, being considerably more classical and refined, and palpably influenced by French painting of the 1660s and 70s. Gennari’s portraits done in Paris anticipate this stylistic migration, and since it is believed that Gennari’s move to Paris was prompted by his admiration for Louis XIV, one would expect his style to have become more francophone. The present work provides a fascinating stylistic intermezzo. The figures, painted in large scale, are closer to the elegant, classicizing forms found in his London royal commissions, and are redolent of French taste, while recalling contemporary artists in Bologna such as Carlo Cignani in a way that none of his work done there prior to 1672 had done, and the Ovidian theme anticipates (or perhaps provoked) his large scale work for Charles II. The nocturnal landscape setting however, with the fragile luminescence of a long-set sun silhouetting the trees painted in deep blue tones, specifically recalls Guercino’s early works from the years around 1620. This is startling, because there is little or nothing in the works that Gennari painted in Bologna, or before that in Cento, that reveals any interest in Guercino’s prima maniera. As a pupil and later workshop assistant of Guercino from the 1650s, he was obviously expected to adhere to the master’s latest style, but his reversion is nonetheless remarkable. Comparable nocturnal horizons occur in an Apollo and Daphne in a private collection and a lost Noli me Tangere known from a photograph, both works datable to Gennari’s London period.7

The attribution to Gennari was retained until after 1795, but in the 1819 inventory the name Girardon appears, probably the result of a mis-hearing of the artist’s name combined with the enthusiasm for the works of the French sculptor Girardon, a close contemporary of Gennari. Subsequently, probably in the nineteenth century following the transfer of the Cumberland collection to Hanover, the work was attributed to Guercino, almost certainly on grounds of style, and was sold as by Guercino in 1926.  Letters from Gösta Stenman, and Karl Helsten, who handled the subsequent sale to the present owner’s ancestor, reveal that the Guercino attribution, which endured until recently, was confirmed by Wilhelm von Bode.8

A work sold in these Rooms on 6 July 1988, lot 20, and more recently offered at Christie’s in London, 24 April 1998, lot 149, was identified by Prisco Bagni as the missing Gennari of Diana and Endymion, but since the subject of that work is Venus and Adonis, and the painting does not resemble Gennari’s work, this identification is not sustainable. 

We are most grateful to Dr Lucy Whitaker, Senior Curator of Paintings at the Royal Collection Trust, for her invaluable help in tracing the painting through the Royal Collection inventories.           

1. The manuscript entitled Raccolta di memorie kept in Bologna (see Literature) is a much later transcription, probably done late in his life by the artist himself, but he seems to have started the original while in Paris or London.
2. See B. Gennari, Raccolta di Memorie, transcribed and published by P. Bagni under Literature, p. 146;
3. He took at least one other painting with him, a St John the Baptist caressing the Lamb; see N. Roio under Literature, p. 143.
4. Idem, pp. 144–45, reproduced respectively p. 320, fig. 321, and p. 198, fig. 332. Roio identifies the commission as for Henry Guy, Secretary of the Royal Treasury.
5. Idem, p. 145, reproduced fig. 267; see also P. Bagni, op. cit., p. 74, no. 37, reproduced.
6. Walpole Society, vol. XVIII, 1929–30, Oxford 1930, p. 124.
7. See N. Roio, op. cit., p. 145, reproduced fig. 266; p. 158, reproduced fig. 290; and p. 163.
8. In the possession of the present owner. Copies are available upon request.