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Title Head of a Man with a Turban
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Imitator of Rosa, Salvator (Italian painter and engraver, 1615-1673)
Date Earliest about 1650
Date Latest about 1660
Description Rosa is best known for introducing a new type of landscape representing wild and savage scenes. These were particularly admired in the eighteenth century by connoisseurs of the picturesque. This painting is of a type known in the eighteenth century as testa di fantasia (imaginary head). Rosa used this type of headdress for sages and philosophers. The stern expression and piercing gaze invest the head with a seriousness that he may have wanted viewers to associate with his desire to be seen as a modern stoic.

This picture may be loosely seen as a self-portrait. It is known that Rosa used a mirror to study his expressions in order to create such paintings that he gave to his friends.

Current Accession Number 1999Q18
Former Accession Number 1999PL18
Subject figure
Measurements 59.5 x 49.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Lent by Sir Denis Mahon, CBE, FBA 1999.
Provenance Ridolfi Collection, Florence [;]; Sebright Collection, Beechwood Park by the mid-nineteenth century; Sir Giles Sebright, Bt sale, Christie's, London, 2 July 1937, lot 127, bought in; Sir Egbert Seabright, Bt sale, Christie's, London,18 January 1946, lot 77, Christie's sale, London, 26 April 1950, lot 97, bought by Denis Mahon.
Principal Exhibitions Barnard Castle, 1962, cat. no. 43, Hayward Gallery, London, 1973, cat. no. 32; Discovering the Italian Baroque: The Denis Mahon Collection, National Gallery, London, 1997, cat. no. 67.
Publications Waagen, 1854-7, Supplement, p. 329; Finaldi, G., and Kitson, M., Discovering the Italian Baroque, The Denis Mahon Collection, National Gallery, London, 1997, no. 67.

The painting is to be bequeathed to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery on Sir Denis Mahon's death.

Mid-nineteenth century manuscript catalogue of the Sebright Collection, 'Beechwood Pictures: Orial Room: Head by Salvator Rosa, from Ridolphi Palace Florence' (manuscript in National Gallery Library).

Two members of the Ridolfi family are mentioned in Baldinucci's Life of Salvatore Rosa, Marchese Ferdinando Ridolfi, who commissioned a battle painting from Rosa when the artist was in Florence, and Luigi Ridolfi, who took part in theatrical performances organised by the Accademia dei Percossi, the literary society established in Florence under Rosa's auspices. Since the picture seems to have been painted for a friend, Finaldi and Kitson (1997) suggest the latter as recipient of the painting.

Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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