Property from a European Private Collection
Rome circa 1566 - 1643 (?)
Judith with the head of Holofernes
oil on canvas
129 x 95 cm.; 50¾ x 37⅜ in.
The canvas is lined, and the paint surface is clean with a clear and even varnish. There are no major damages visible to the naked eye and the painting appears to be in good overall condition. The is a slight degree of wear in the flesh tones of Judith's forehead and chest with associated retouchings to minimalise its effect. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals a varnish that fluoresces opaque. It also reveals a series of sensitively executed restorations, which are predominantly throughout the white of Judith's sleeve and turban. The aforementioned retouchings in her flesh tones are confirmed, notably her neck and right breast. Otherwise there are just small, scattered retouchings.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
With Walpole Gallery, London;
Acquired by the present owner in December 2001.
Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 29 November 2003 – 22 Febuary 2004; Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, 11 March – 30 May 2004, Caravaggio & his world: darkness & light, no. 13;
Ariccia, Palazzo Chigi, La 'Schola' del Caravaggio. Dipinti dalla Collezione Koelliker, 13 October – 11 February 2007, no. 14.
G. Vaughan, J. Spike et al., Caravaggio & his world: darkness & light, exh. cat., Sydney and Melbourne 2003, pp. 68, 104–05, cat. no. 13, reproduced in colour p. 105;
G. Papi (ed.), La 'Schola' del Caravaggio. Dipinti dalla Collezione Koelliker, exh. cat., Milan 2006, pp. 76–77, cat. no. 14, reproduced in colour p. 77;
A. Galli, In pursuit of Caravaggio, C. Miner (ed.), Turin, pp. 48–49, cat. no. 4, reproduced in colour p. 48.
Only discovered prior to the Sydney/Melbourne exhibition of 2003–04 (see Literature), Judith with the head of Holofernes is an important addition to the œuvre of Giovanni Baglione. This canvas is one of a group produced in the artist's maturity that he painted in response to the revolutionary works of the young Caravaggio; its date of execution has been a subject of debate. John T. Spike (see Literature) believes this Judith to have been executed post 1610, in the wake of Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi's own interpretations of the subject. Gianni Papi, in his 2006 analysis of this painting (see Literature) also dates the execution of the present work to between 1610–15 and draws stylistic comparisons with Baglione's 1608 treatment of this subject in the Borghese collection, Rome;1 with his Ecce Homo, also in the Borghese collection but currently on loan to the Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome;2 and with his Saint Sebastian in the Mary Jane Harris collection.3 Papi notes that closer still is a painting by Baglione of an obscure allegorical subject, whose whereabouts are unknown; it is known from photographs.4 Along with many stylistic similarities, that painting also shares with the present canvas the inclusion of significant pieces of jewellery. The pair of gold link bracelets here are seemingly exactly the same as those included in the allegorical scene; they were perhaps in Baglione's possession and used as a studio prop.
1 M. Smith O'Neil, Giovanni Baglione: Artistic reputation in Baroque Rome, Cambridge 2002, p. 210, cat. no. 39, reproduced pl. VI.
2 Smith O'Neil 2002, p. 211, cat. no. 42, reproduced pl. VIII.
3 Smith O'Neil 2002, p. 203, cat. no. 21, reproduced p. 76, pl. 39.
4 See Papi 2006, p. 76, fig. 1.