GIOVANNI GIROLAMO BONESI
Bologna 1653 - 1725
THE REPENTANT MARY MAGDALENE
oil on canvas
canvas: 22⅜ by 17½ in.; 56.8 by 44.5 cm.
framed: 28½ by 23½ in.; 72.4 by 59.7 cm.
The canvas is lined. The painting presents an impressive image that has stable craquelure throughout. A discolored retouching possibly to an old repair is visible on the proper right knee of the Magdalene. Inspection under UV shows very little and tiny spots of retouches in the figures, like the face of the Magdalene and the neck of the figure at right. Other minor spots are scattered in the background, but very minimum. Painting can hang as is and is offered framed.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
We are grateful to Prof. Daniele Benati for suggesting an attribution to Giovanni Girolamo Bonesi on the basis of photographs. Bonesi was a Bolognese painter who trained under Giovanni Maria Viani (1636 - 1700). His works were influenced by Lorenzo Pasinelli (1629 - 1700) and Carlo Cignani (1628 - 1719). This painting is similar to Bonesi's painting of Cleopatra that sold at Christie's in 2011,1 and although they each portray a different subject, both scenes unfold in an interior setting with red curtains and a cushion on the floor where the figures rest their feet.
Mary Magdalene was a symbol of penance for the Catholic Church in the 17th century. She became a popular subject in Italian art and was commonly shown fashionably dressed in a contemporary interior. The other female figure in this composition is probably her sister Martha, who according to The Golden Legend persuaded the sinful Mary to listen to Jesus Christ. In gratitude for his healing, Mary became one of Christ's most devout followers.
1. Oil on canvas, an oval, 150 by 116 cm. Anonymous sale, Milan, Christie's, 25 November 2011, lot 60, for 33,560 EUR.