oil on panel
The Salviati family had close ties with the Medici. Jacopo Salviati (1461-1533), the father of Alamanno, was married to Lucrezia de' Medici, daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici, il Magnifico, and sister of Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, Pope Leo X. Alamanno's sister, Maria Salviati (1499-1543), depicted in a portrait by Jacopo Pontormo, married Giovanni de' Medici, and was the mother of Cosimo I de' Medici, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Jacopo, Alamanno's father, inherited the Villa Salviati from his cousins, in 1490. Several phases of restructuring of the house and gardens took place between this time and the end of Alamanno's life, including after 1529, when a group of patricians opposed to the Medici and all those affiliated with the family, raided the villa and set it alight - an incident recorded in Giorgio Vasari's famous Le Vite in 1564.
As part of his contribution to the renovation of the villa, in 1570 Alamanno commissioned Alessandro Allori, Johannes Stradanus and other members of Bronzino's workshop to decorate the house with paintings, friezes and grotesques. These included a series of three monumental mythological scenes for the largest room in the villa, by Allori himself: The Abduction of Proserpine,1 Aeneas and Anchises and Narcissus.2 Stradanus is recorded as having painted 'una tavola dipinta de la frutta', as well as other decorative schemes in the house in 1571.3
The present work bears close comparison with portraits by both Allori and Stradanus. Almost identical chairs, decorated with inlaid ivory (with additional grotesques at the end of each arm), are found in Allori's portraits of Ortensia de’ Bardi da Montauto,4 in which the sitter is similarly posed, and Paolo Capranica, dated 1561.5 The painting also has much in common with Stradanus' portrait of Allori himself, offered in these Rooms, 6 December 2018, lot 142, in which the artist sits before an open window with a view of a villa, possibly near Peretola in northern Florence, visible beyond.
According to an old handwritten label originally on the reverse of this painting, the work was brought to Foots Cray Place from the Villa Salviati, and was in the possession of William Graham by 1876 (as with the previous lot, however, it does not appear to have been included in the Foots Cray sale of 1 May 1876). Graham, a Liberal MP for Glasgow, was a major patron and collector of the Pre-Raphaelites. The posthumous sale of his property in 1886 comprised numerous works by Rosetti, Burne-Jones and Millais, including The Vale of Rest, today in the Tate Britain, London. Oswald Augustus Smith (1826-1902), who appears to have sought out a number of artworks that had once belonged to his family, bought the painting at this auction.
1 Getty Museum, Los Angeles, inv. no. 73.PB.73; see S. Lecchini Giovannoni, Alessandro Allori, Turin 1991, pp. 226-27, cat. no. 27, reproduced fig. 55.
2 Both in the Turkish Embassy, Washington, D.C.; see Lecchini Giovannoni 1991, pp. 230 and 235, cat. nos 33 and 47, reproduced figs 69 and 83, respectively.
3 E. Karwacka Codini, Archivio Salviati: documenti sui beni immobiliari dei Salviati: palazzi, ville, feudi: piante del territorio, exh. cat., Pisa 1987, p. 50.
4 Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; see Lecchini Giovannoni 1991, p. 302, cat. no. 176, reproduced figs 409-10.
5 Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; see Lecchini Giovannoni 1991, pp. 303-04, cat. no. 183, reprodcued fig. 418.
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