Drawn in de Wit's characteristic combination of black and red chalk and accompanying washes, Guus van den Hout has kindly informed us that he believes the seated woman depicted holding a sceptre, in this finely preserved sheet, is the Goddess Juno and can be connected with De Wit's ceiling decoration of the main room of Herengracht 366 in Amsterdam. Van den Hout has also confirmed that he regards the drawing, both on stylistic grounds as well as the manner in which the signature has been applied, to date to very early in De Wit’s career, circa
1716-1718, which is consistent with the date of the ceiling decoration (1717-1718). Fascinatingly and highly plausibly, van den Hout has further suggested that De Wit’s Juno was much influenced by the figure of Divine Providence in Pietro da Cortona’s frescoed ceiling decoration of the Palazzo Barberini in Rome,1
a theory further reinforced, in part, by the fact that De Wit was known to have owned Cornelis Bloemaert’s set of prints recording the project, after Cortona.
A highly comparable sheet to the present lot, though unconnected to the Herengracht 366 decorative scheme, depicting Yael and also dated by van den Hout to circa
1716-1718, was recently on the Belgian art market.2
1. J.M. Merz, Pietro da Cortona, Tübingen 1991, p. 257, fig. 407
2. Antwerp, Galerie Lowet de Wotrenge