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Circle of Viti, Timoteo (Italian painter, 1469-1523) , Chastity (a Virgin and a Unicorn)

Core Record

Title Chastity (a Virgin and a Unicorn)
Alternative Title Chastity and the Unicorn
Collection Wellcome Library
Artist Circle of Viti, Timoteo (Italian painter, 1469-1523)
Previously attributed to circle of Dossi, Dosso (Italian painter, ca. 1486-1542)
Date Earliest about 1500
Date Latest about 1550
Description This painting is an allegory of Chastity, represented by a virgin with a unicorn crouching at her feet and resting its head on her lap. The unicorn, symbolic of holiness and chastity, is a fabled beast and is pure white, having the head and legs of a horse and a long, twisted horn set in the middle of its forehead. Traditionally, the unicorn can only be trapped by a virginal maiden. This is reflected in the inscription 'KSTITA' which refers to the Italian word of Castità. This painting is attributed to a follower of Timoteo Viti, an Italian painter, from Urbino. His works are strongly influenced by Raphael.
Current Accession Number 44558i
Former Accession Number P 93/1976
Inscription front lc 'KSTITA'
Subject landscape; figure; animal (unicorn); allegory (chastity); religion (virgin)
Measurements 46.8 x 38.6 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Henry Solomon Wellcome 1936 (;).
Provenance Foster, London, 1 July 1914, lot 200, £8 (;) as Saint with Unicorn by 'Early Flemish'; acquired at auction by Stowe; collection of Henry Solomon Wellcome, 1 July 1914.
Publications 'Thompson Report, 6.7.1914' quoted in Summaries of C. J. S. Thompson Reports, vol. 2, p. 421 (Welcome Library).
Notes Noted by the Wellcome curator C. J. S. Thompson in the Thompson Report, 6 July 1914 as 'Painting of the early 16 cent. Representing a girl with unicorn which is crouching at her feet; bought at Foster's, 3 July : £8. 8.0'. There are a number of references on the reverse of the panel. The file records that the painting was shown to Mr Ian Kennedy of Christie's some time before 1978 and he concluded that the work was 'late 16th century Venetian'. It was also seen by Mr J. Somerville of Sotheby's in May 1981 who thought 'probably the circle of Dosso Dossi under the overpaint'.
Rights Owner (c) The Wellcome Trust
Author Dr Madeleine Korn



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