Lot 31
  • 31

GIOVANNI BATTISTA PIAZZETTA | Saint Theresa in ecstasy

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
162,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Saint Theresa in ecstasy
  • oil on canvas
  • 46 x 38 cm.; 18 1/8  x 15 in.


Heimann Collection, Milan; With Adolph Loewi, Venice;

Colonna Collection, Turin;

Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 30 January 2014, lot 50 for $257,000;

There acquired by the present collector.


Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Les Trésors de l’art Vénitien, 1 April – 4 September 1947, no. 86.


W. Arslan, 'Studi sulla pittura veneziana del primo Settecento', in La Critica d’Arte, 1936, p. 197, reproduced fig. 9; R. Pallucchini, 'Opere inedite di Giambattista Piazzetta', L’Arte, vol. 7, no. 3, 1936, pp. 187, 188, reproduced p. 189, fig. 1;

R. Pallucchini (ed.), Les Trésors de l’art vénitien, exh. cat., Lausanne 1947, no. 86;

R. Pallucchini, Piazzetta, Milan 1956, pp. 32 and 49, reproduced in colour plate XIII;

R. Pallucchini and A. Mariuz, L’opera completa del Piazzetta, Milan 1982, p. 93, no. 77, reproduced.

Catalogue Note

This striking and dramatic bust-length depiction of Saint Theresa in Ecstasy is characteristic of Piazzetta’s images of single saints. He executed two additional versions of this composition, though Pallucchini convincingly argued that the present version should be considered the prime example.1 One version is in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, and differs very slightly in the background and arrangement of the rosary beads. The third version (location unknown) is known from an engraving by Marco Pitteri.2 That version includes a crucifix (in lieu of rosary beads) and a skull in the lower left corner, which has previously led to the belief that the present canvas is a fragment, though comparison with the Stockholm picture confirms otherwise. Piazzetta did indeed engage with this general figural type, with the female saint leaning back, eyes closed, in quiet contemplative ecstasy, on other occasions, for instance his Saint Margaret in Ecstasy, for which he executed at least two examples (Tommasi collection, Cortona, and private collection, Padua).  Born in Venice, Piazzetta received his training there, before moving to Bologna at the age of twenty. He was already a skilled draughtsman when he entered the studio of Giuseppe Maria Crespi. Piazzetta stayed in Bologna for two years, at which time he returned permanently to Venice. The marked tenebrism of his style, which increased over time, must reflect not only the Bolognese works to which he would been exposed, such as those by the Carracci and Guercino, but probably also reveal the influence of the latter’s Roman-period works. 

Pallucchini and Mariuz, 1982, p. 93.
2 Pallucchini and Mariuz 1982, no. 76.