• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2135

    Important Old Master Paintings and Sculpture

    28 January 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 5

    Studio of Annibale Carracci Bologna 1560-1609 Rome

    Diana and Actaeon

    Price Realised  


    This lot is offered without a reserve

    Studio of Annibale Carracci Bologna 1560-1609 Rome
    Diana and Actaeon
    oil on panel
    32 3/8 x 43 3/8 in. 82 x 110 cm.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    The present painting once formed part of the extensive and highly esteemed Gonzaga collection, assembled by the dukes of Mantua. In 1625, after the death of the 5th Duke, the treasury faced imminent bankruptcy and plans were made to disperse the majority of the Gonzaga holdings. The 6th Duke was adamant that the collection should be sold outside Italy so it would not add to the wealth of his political rivals and neighbors. Thus, through the agency of the Mantuan grand chancellor, Count Alessandro Striggi, the painter and dealer Nicholas Lanier, and especially the Venice-based art dealer Daniel Nys, the entire Gonzaga collection was sold to Charles I of England for over £18,000. Negotiations were conducted in the utmost secrecy so as to outmaneuver potential competitors, such as Marie de'Medici and Cardinal Richelieu. What was later termed 'the sale of the century' took over two years to complete and, when announced, 'caused a sensation throughout Europe...' (see D. Howarth, '"Mantua Peeces": Charles I and the Gonzaga Collections', exhibition catalogue, London, Victoria & Albert Museum, Splendors of the Gonzaga, 1981-82, pp. 95-100).

    The first of the Gonzaga shipments to England left Venice on 15 April 1628, on the English vessel Margaret. Three days later, a storm erupted, and as the ship was rocked on the choppy seas another shipment containing mercury spilled, damaging some of the pictures including the present work.

    This painting appears to have been sold prior to the famous Commonwealth sale of the King's goods following Charles I's execution in 1649, as it does not appear in the related inventories (see O. Millar ed., 'The Inventories and Valuations of the King's goods, 1649-1651', The Walpole Society, XLIII, 1970-72, pp. 1-431).

    Special Notice

    This lot is offered without reserve.


    Vicenzo II Gonzaga (1594-1627), 6th Duke of Mantua, sold in 1627-28 together with the majority of his collection to
    Charles I of England (1600-1649).

    Pre-Lot Text



    Mantua, Archivio di Stato, Archivio Gonzaga, 1626-27, envelope 330, folio 710r.
    A. van der Doort, Inventory of the Collections of Charles I of England, Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Ms. Ashmolean 1514, folio 61.
    A catalogue of the works of art in the Long Gallery, Chair Room and Cabinet Room at Whitehall, National Arts Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Ms. 86.J 13, folio 11, no. 5: 'A Peece of Diana, Acteon and foure Nymphs by Augustine Caratz'.
    C. D'Arco, Delle arti e artifici di Mantova, Mantua, 1857, II, p. 160, no. 200.
    A. Luzio, La Galleria dei Gonzaga venduta all'Inghilterra nel 1627-28, Milan, 1913, p. 109, no. 278.
    L'Ècole de Fontainebleau, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1939, p. 64.
    The School of Fontainebleau, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1940, p. 64.
    O. Millar, ed., 'Abraham van der Doort's Catalogue of the Collections of Charles I', The Walpole Society, XXXVI, 1958-60, p. 46, as '23, A Mantua Peece done by one of [insert: te] karazeeos...item by Quicksilver a defaced picture [insert: pijntit op de lijeht] of Acteon and Diana bathing with diverse Nimphs in a woddden frame Conteyning 6 intire figures [insert: les tan] halfe soe bigg as the life in a wodden. frame...[hight-Breadth] 2 f 7 - 3 f 7'
    D. Posner, Annibale Carracci: A study in the reform of Italian painting around 1590, London, 1971, II, p. 78, as 'from the Roman Workshop of Annibale Carracci'.
    P. Cooney, et al., L'Opera Completa di Annibale Carracci, Milan, 1976, p. 130, no. 193, as 'Attributed to Annibale Carracci'.
    C. van Tuyll, 'Giovanni Antonio Solari: un "nuovo" carraccesco', Paragone, no, 377, July 1981, pp. 28-29, 31, note 17, fig. 43, as 'Roman Workshop of Annibale Carracci, tentatively ascribed to his pupil Giovanni Antonio Solari c. 1581-1666'.
    J.D. Reid, et al., The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s, New York and Oxford, 1993, I, p. 19, as 'Studio of Agostino Carracci'.
    R. Morselli, Le collezioni Gonzaga: l'elenco dei beni del 1626-1627, Milan, 2000, p. 292, no. 942, as 'Nella galeria [sic] piciola...un quadro dipintovi Anteot [sic, for Acteon] converso in un cervo, con cornici fregiate d'oro, stimato lire 60. F'.


    Paris, Wildenstein, L'École de Fontainebleau, December 1939.
    New York, Wildenstein, The School of Fontainebleau, 31 October-30 November 1940.
    New York, Wildenstein, The painter as historian, 15 November-31 December 1962, no. 3.