MARCANTONIO FRANCESCHINI | AURORA AND CEPHALUS
Property from a Distinguished Private Collection, Washington, D.C.
Bologna 1648 - 1729
AURORA AND CEPHALUS
oil on canvas
57⅝ by 40¾ in.; 146.4 by 103.5 cm.
The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, firstname.lastname@example.org, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
This work is in particularly good condition. The canvas appears to be unlined. There may have been a lining in the past that was removed. The paint layer is stable, and its texture is very attractive.
Some weakness has received retouching in the deeper shadows of the maroon gown worn by the male figure. There are a few spots in the darkest colors of the foliage in the upper left. The profiles of the pine tree in the upper center have weakened and have attracted some retouches. There are a few tiny isolated spots of retouching within the figure. There is a scuff on the bottom edge beneath the feet of the putti in the lower right that should be repaired. The work can otherwise be hung in its current state.
"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."
Commissioned by Dominik Andreas, Graf von Kaunitz, Austerlitz, 1700 (not in collection sale of 1820);
With Simon Dickinson, Ltd., London and New York;
From whom acquired, 1996.
D.C. Miller, Marcantonio Franceschini, Turin 2001, p. 278, no. 175, reproduced.
This mythological scene is recorded in Franceschini’s account book in July 1700 as part of a commission for the “Principe di Cannitz,” presumably Dominik Andreas, Graf von Kaunitz at Austerlitz, founder of a celebrated collection of paintings expanded by his descendants.1 Along with Aurora and Cephalus, the artist painted an untraced pendant of Bacchus and Ariadne, both tales of unrequited love. The present subject, a relatively rare one, is only mentioned in the account book once more, as an oval format painting in 1726. This painting was not included in the sale of the Kaunitz collection in Vienna on 13 March 1820. The mortal Cephalus received from Diana, goddess of the hunt, a spear that could not miss and a dog, pictured in the foreground being restrained by a putto, that always caught its prey. Aurora, goddess of the dawn, shown here with roses in her hair to symbolize the “rosy-fingered dawn” of classical poetry, fell in love with the married Cephalus and attempted to make him stray from his mortal wife, Procris. Franceschini has pictured the moment of a rejected embrace, when Cephalus pries himself away from the lovestruck goddess. Meanwhile, Procris, suspecting her husband was unfaithful, witnessed the seduction from the forest nearby. Hearing leaves rustling, Cephalus mistook his wife for an animal and launched his spear, inadvertently killing his own wife, to whom he had in fact remained faithful.
Franceschini’s classicizing style is appropriate to the painting’s noble patron and its learned subject matter and illustrates his facility with the dominant pictorial idiom of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth century. Aurora and Cephalus’s positions create a strong diagonal emphasis in the composition that conveys the dramatic consequences of the ill-fated affair. According to Ian Kennedy, the artist’s influence on his younger colleague Donato Creti can be detected in the figure of Cephalus.2
1. “Dal Marchese Grassi, Doppie quaranta per caparra di due quadri da farsi per il Principe di Cannitz, tedesco, in una Bacco e Ariana, e nell'altra, l'Aurora e Cefalo, d'accordo in doppie cento vinti per tutti due con obligo darli finite ques’anno, dico……. 600”
2. See Miller, 2001, p. 278.