Maratti made a preparatory drawing for the female figure, now in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid (fig. 1). In the drawing, Maratti worked out the pose of the woman and experimented with the positioning of her left hand, which he ultimately painted in the position seen at the upper right of the sheet, allowing her to hold a spray of flowers. The drawing was purchased in 1775 by Rosalía O’Moore, widow of Andrea Procaccini, one of Maratti’s pupils.2
Maratti collaborated not only with Karel van Vogelaer, but also with other still life painters: the pose of Flora here is very close to that of the female figure by Maratti in Still Life with a Woman Picking Grapes in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, which is a collaborative work by Maratti and Christian Berentz. Perhaps Maratti's best known collaboration with a floral specialist is the set of magnificent mirrors made for the Colonna family and still in the Palazzo Colonna in Rome. On the mirrored surfaces, Giovanni Stanchi (1608 - 1672) added bouquets of flowers, while Maratti contributed frolicking cupids. In the present work, Maratti focused on the beauty of the sitter, whose association with the goddess Flora suggests youth, fertility, and springtime. The mythological symbolism is enhanced by the classical statue behind the woman and the krater beside her.
This painting is accompanied by a copy of a photo-certificate from Wilhelm Suida, dated Zurich, September 1932, stating this painting to be a work by Carlo Maratti. We are grateful to Francesco Petrucci and Dario Beccarini for, independently, confirming the figure of Flora to be by Maratti, on the basis of photographs. We are also grateful to Yuri Primarosa, also on the basis of photographs, for identifying the flowers to be by Karel van Vogelaer.
1. See The Getty Provenance Index Databases, Item 1063, Archival Inventory I-629 (Odescalchi); D.L. Bershad, “The Newly Discovered Testament and Inventories of Carlo Maratti and His Wife Francesca (Gommi),” in Antologia di belli arti, no. 25-26 1985, p. 83; and S. Rudolph, Niccolò Maria Pallavicini, L’ascesa al Tempio della Virtù attraverso il Mecenatismo, Rome 1995, p. 87.
2. Inv. no. D-1390, Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid.
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