26
26

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Donato Creti
A SIBYL
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 1,095,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
26

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Donato Creti
A SIBYL
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 1,095,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Master Paintings Evening Sale

|
New York

Donato Creti
CREMONA 1671 - 1749 BOLOGNA
A SIBYL
oil on canvas, in its original Emilian carved and gilt wooden frame
28 1/4  by 23 1/8  in.; 72.4 by 58.7 cm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Count Pietro Ercole Fava (died 1744), Palazzo Fava, Bologna, listed in the “Camera Dipinta dall’Albani” ("Donna con turbante che legge, in mezza figura, con cornice dorata, del Creti, L. 50."), and presumably thence by descent with the collection to Count Carlo Fava, Palazzo Fava, Bologna (died 1790).

Literature

Inventory of the collection of Count Pietro Ercole Fava, drawn up in 1745 by Donato Creti, published by G. Campori, Raccolta di cataloghi ed inventari inediti, 1870, p. 603.

Catalogue Note

This enchanting depiction of a beautiful young woman is a major addition to the corpus of Donato Creti, one of the most poetic painters of the Bolognese school and, with Marcantonio Franceschini, its last great proponent.  It depicts the figure of a Sibyl, an archetype that has deep roots in Bolognese art, perhaps most famously in the works of Reni, Guercino and Domenichino.  As in the versions of these older masters, Creti has painted his Sibyl wearing a turban (practically an iconographic shorthand for an exotic, oracular figure), and holding up a book.  He has chosen to paint her in profile, one of his favorite compositional devices, and one which allowed him to create idealized portraits of women of extreme elegance and originality.

The Sibyl would appear to be a relatively early work by Creti, dateable to the first decade of the 18th Century.  Its composition corresponds rather closely to the Cleopatra formerly in the Hercolani Fava Simonetti collection (fig. 1), which Renato Roli dated to the early 1700s.1 The Cleopatra, in turn, relates to a figure at the extreme left of one of the artist’s most famous pictures, the Alexander the Great threatened by his Father in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (inv. 1961.9.6), which has been given a likely dating of 1700-1705.  Thus, the present painting should date to about the same moment in the young artist’s career, the opening years of the new century.

Such a dating would also fit with the early provenance of the painting. Count Pietro Ercole Fava (1667/9-1744) was a member of one of the most important aristocratic families of Bologna which had a long history of supporting the arts.  He was also a talented dilettante painter,2 and a close friend of Donato Creti, who had studied with him in the studio of Lorenzo Pasinelli.  Fava and his father, Alessandro, would become early supporters of Creti, and in fact in the posthumous inventory of Pietro Ercole, drawn up in 1745 by the artist himself, there are listed over 100 paintings by Creti, as well as numerous drawings.  The first room of the inventory, the “Camera Dipinta dall’Albani” contained a number of works by the artist.  The second one listed, directly after the Alexander now in Washington, is a “Donna con turbante che legge, in mezza figura, con cornice dorata, del Creti."3  The painting was valued by Creti at 50 Bolognese lire, more than the Cleopatra mentioned above.  While the inventory contains no measurements for the paintings, the reverse of the frame of the present painting bears a brand and an inscription which ties the painting to the Fava family (figs. 1 and 2).

We are grateful to Prof. Daniele Benati who has confirmed the attribution to Creti based on photographs.

1. R. Roli, Donato Creti, 1967, p. 92.

2. Both Giampietro Zannetti and Luigi Crespi considered him important enough to devote biographies to him. 

3. “Woman with a turban who is reading, half length, with a gilt frame, by Creti.” Cf. Campori, op. cit., p. 603

Master Paintings Evening Sale

|
New York