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    Sale 7743

    Old Masters & 19th Century Art Evening Sale

    7 July 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 26

    Giacomo Ceruti (Milan 1698-1767)

    Portrait of Donna Alba Regina del Ferro, three-quarter-length, in a black dress, holding a book

    Price Realised  


    Giacomo Ceruti (Milan 1698-1767)
    Portrait of Donna Alba Regina del Ferro, three-quarter-length, in a black dress, holding a book
    oil on canvas
    45 5/8 x 31 1/8 in. (105.7 x 79.1 cm.)

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    Although Ceruti is best known for his uncompromisingly realistic portrayals of low-life subjects, by the mid-1720s he had also established a reputation as a painter of portraits. Into this later category fall his likenesses of clerics, monks and tertiaries - lay religious figures - in which the sitters are posed quite simply against neutral backgrounds; works which are characterized by an air of immediacy, sincerity and quiet faith.

    Mina Gregori (loc. cit.) has noted that Donna Alba Regina del Ferro was most probably a tertiary or a member of a woman's religious school, as indicated by her sombre costume and the book that she holds. There is an apparent pendant portrait of a cleric, who is traditionally identified as a young Benedictine monk known as Pellegrino del Ferro, who lived in the reformed monastery attached to the basilica of Santa Giustina in Padua (see Gregori no. 122). Both he and Donna Alba were members of the prominent del Ferro family of Padua, and it would seem logical to date these two portraits to the time of Ceruti's stay in Padua in 1738-9. This date also coincides with the ordination of Pellegrino as a priest, which took place on 17 December 1738, and it would thus appear that the portrait of Pellegrino was painted to commemorate the event. Gregori notes that a 'Rev. da donna alba Maria Ferro, d'anni 60 circa' is known to have died in the convent of San Marco in Padua on 2 March 1764. Despite the different middle name, it is likely that she was the present sitter.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Robert Scholz-Forni, Hamburg.
    Sale; M. Lempertz, Cologne, April-May 1953, lot 143.
    Acquired in 1954 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York until de-accessioned in 1984; Property from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Sotheby's, New York, 19 January 1984, lot 74.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this lot will be sold without reserve.


    M. Goering, 'Die Sammlung Scholz-Forni', Pantheon, XXV, no. 5, May 1940, p. 120, illustrated.
    'Accessions of American and Canadian Museums, April-June 1954', Art Quarterly, XVII, no. 4, Winter 1954, pp. 410-11, illustrated.
    F. Cappi Bentivegna, Abbigliamento e costume nella pittura italiana, II, Rome, 1964, p. 224 and fig. 299.
    G. Testori, in the exhibition catalogue, Giacomo Ceruti: mostra di 32 opere inedite, Finarte, Milan, 1966, p. 10, cited under no. 4 (erroneously listing the owner as Kress collection).
    G. Testori and L. Mallè, in the exhibition catalogue, Giacomo Ceruti e la rittrastica del suo tempo nell'Italia settentrionale, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Turin, 1967, p. 47, cited under no. 7.
    B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Painting in North American Public Collections, Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 51, 513 and 609.
    K. Baetjer, European Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Artists Born In or Before 1865, New York, 1980, I, p. 25; II, p. 176, illustrated.
    M. Gregori, Giacomo Ceruti, Bergamo, 1982, pp. 450-1, no. 121 and pp. 71, 91, n. 315, and under no. 122, and pl. 121.
    M. Cinotti et al., Catalogo della pittura italiana dal '300 al '700 Milan, 1985, pp. 137-8 and 192, illustrated.
    F. Frangi, in the catalogue of the exhibition, Giacomo Ceruti, il Pitocchetto, Monasterio di Santa Giulia, Brescia, 1987, under no. 51.