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Core Record

Title A Classical Sacrifice
Alternative Title David and Solomon; Saul and Samuel; Agamemnon and Achilles
Collection Northampton Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to studio of Cima da Conegliano, Giovanni Battista (Italian painter, ca. 1459-1517)
Attributed to Agabiti, Pietro Paolo (Italian painter, ca. 1470-ca. 1540)
Previously attributed to Cima da Conegliano, Giovanni Battista (Italian painter, ca. 1459-1517)
Date Earliest about 1500
Date Latest about 1515

This small tondo (circular painting) shows two men dressed in military gear all' antica, offering a sacrifice at a stone altar in a landscape. On the right, the older man is probably throwing incense onto the flames. On the left, the crowned younger man looks on. The altar is decorated with a classical-style swag, head, and a laurel wreath around the initials 'R. S.'. It is unclear whether these refer to the artist.

The painting shows the influence of the Venetian artist Cima da Conegliano, but the quality of the drawing suggest that this is the work of one of his students.

Current Accession Number 1993.163
Former Accession Number 1914.D
Inscription front ll 'R S'
Subject figure; landscape; religion (pagan sacrifice); mythology (Agamemnon and Achilles)
Measurements 23.0 x 23 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Given by Mrs Selby Henrey and Miss Helen Lindsay 1914.
Provenance Possibly collection of Lady Wantage, -1920; by descent to her nieces Mrs Selby Henry and Miss Helen Lindsay.
Principal Exhibitions Painters and Decorators, Northampton Central Museum, 1998, cat. no. 6.
Publications Wright, C., Old Master Paintings in Britain: An Index of Continental Old Master Paintings Executed before c.1800 in Public Collections in the United Kingdom, London, 1976, p. 38, as David and Solomon; Humfrey, P., Cima da Conegliano, Cambridge, 1983, cat. no. 220, p. 185, pl. 197c, as Agamemnon and Achilles by Pietro Paulo Agabiti.

Although in the past this painting was thought to represent an Old Testament scene, the treatment of the altar and the characters' attire makes it more likely that the scene of sacrifice is taken from classical mythology. There are only three known tondi by Cima - two in Parma, The Judgement of Midas and Sleeping Endymion, and one in Philadelphia, The Triumph of Bacchus, all measuring about 25 cm across, like the one in Northampton. This supports the interpretation of the Northampton tondo as a mythological, rather than biblical, painting; the subjects and size of the other three tondi suggest that Cima employed this format for mythological themes, a practice which the painter of the Northampton tondo must have been aware of.

The attribution to Cima was first proposed by David Carrit of Christie's in 1967, and was supported by Sir Michael Levey in 1968 and by Jill Dunkerton in 1997. Peter Humfrey re-attributed the work to Agabiti in 1983.

Rights Owner Northampton Museum and Art Gallery
Author Pablo Pérez d'Ors; Dr Angela Smith



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