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 Reni, Guido (Italian painter and draftsman, 1575-1642) , Lady with Lapis Lazuli Bowl

Core Record

Title Lady with Lapis Lazuli Bowl
Alternative Title Artemisia
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Reni, Guido (Italian painter and draftsman, 1575-1642)
Date Earliest about 1638
Date Latest about 1639
Description In the 1653 inventory of the collection of Cardinal Mazarin, this work is described as 'La teste d'une femme tenant une tasse bleue en main et un voille enveloppe sur sa teste, sa bordure doree. Guido'.

The subject may represent Artemesia, wife of Mausolus, the governor of Caria in Asia Minor. After the death of her husband, she mixed his ashes in liquid which she drank, making herself a living tomb. The story was used as a symbol of a widow's devotion to her husband's memory. However, there does not appear to be any firm foundation for the identification of the woman as Artemisia. The type of composition is that popularised by Domenicho and in particular it may be compared with Domenicho's Sibyl in, or formerly in, the Liechtenstein Collection, who also carries a dish in addition to a short rod.

Current Accession Number 1961P30
Former Accession Number P.30´61
Subject history (Artemisia (?)); portrait (?)
Measurements 73.4 x 60.8 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased from P & D Colnaghi Co. Ltd. 1961.
Provenance Cardinal Mazarin; 7th Duke of Newcastle, 1857; by descent to Earl of Lincoln; Earl of Lincoln sale, Christie's, 4 June 1937, lot 77, bought by Walker; Bukowski sale, Stockholm, 9 October 1960, bought by Sven Elmquist ; Colnaghi.
Principal Exhibitions Paintings by Old Masters, Colnaghi's, 1961, cat. no. 4; Primitives to Picasso, Royal Academy of Arts, 1962, cat. no. 98; Old Masters from the City of Birmingham, Wildenstein and Company, 1970, cat. no. 13; Guido Reni und Europa, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 1989, cat. no. A33.
Publications Waagen, G. F.,Galleries and Cabinets of Art, 1857, p. 510; Duc d'Aumale , Inventaire de tous les meubles du Cardinal Mazarin, London, 1861, p. 330, no. 321; Comte de Cosnac, Les Richesses du Palais Mazarin, Paris, 1885, p. 326, no. 1145; Nicholson, B., Burlington Magazine, vol. 103, 1961, p. 192; Garas, K., 'The Ludovisi Collection of Pictures in 1633- II', Burlington Magazine, vol. 109, 1967, p. 345, no. 119; Pepper, S. D., Guido Reni: Complete Catalogue, 1984, p. 284, p. 284, no. 182; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983, no. 121.
Notes This painting belongs to the same period as the Cleopatra in the Pitti Palace, dated c. 1639 by Kurz (Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorisches Sammlungen in Wien, N.F. XI, 1937, p. 219). This work was catalogued in Cardinal Mazarin's 1653 and 1661 inventories along with another work known as Sibyl, now in the Kress collection and on loan to Lawrence University, Kansas. The size and handling is very similar and the two would have made an excellent pair. However, the Kansas painting alone was engraved in 1786 when in the Orléans collection and the paintings would appear to have been separated before that date. The identification of the subject matter was made by Waagen but is not certain. Garas has called attention to a painting in the Ludovisi Collection listed in the inventory of 1633, no. 119 as 'Una femina, che tiene una tazza in mano figurata per Circe Maga alta p.mi cinque, cornice dorata di mano di Guido Reni'. However, this cannot be the same work as Ludovisi's painting was in the Ludovisi collection until 1684 when it was sold at Naples. The present work had already been in the Mazarin collection for thirty years by this date. A painting by Guido called A Turbaned Female (Minneapolis Institute of Arts) shows a similar subject and may be the Ludovisi picture.
Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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