Artemisia Gentileschi (Rome 1593-1652/3 Naples)
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Artemisia Gentileschi (Rome 1593-1652/3 Naples)

Clio: the Muse of History

Artemisia Gentileschi (Rome 1593-1652/3 Naples)
Clio: the Muse of History
signed, inscribed and dated '[1]632 ARTEMISIA [fa]ciebat all Illute M. FRosier[s?]' (ar linked, fr linked, on the open book)
oil on canvas
50¼ x 38¼ in. (127.6 x 97.2 cm.)
Probably painted for Charles de Lorraine, 4th Duc de Guise (1572-1640). with Arcade Gallery, London, by 1940.
Oswald Toynbee Falk, Oxford, purchased from the above by 1950.
C.R. Churchill, Colemore, Alton, Hampshire.
with Arcade Gallery, London, 1955.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 26 February 1958, lot 55.
with Wildenstein, London, purchased from the above sale.
Purchased from the above by the present owner.
L. Fröhlich-Bume, 'A Rediscovered Picture by Artemisia Gentileschi', The Burlington Magazine, LXXVII, November 1940, pp. 165 and 169, fig. B, subject identified as Fame.
'Notable Works of Art now on the Market', The Burlington Magazine, XCVII, no. 633, December 1955, pl. XIX, subject identified as Fame.
R. Ward Bissell, 'Artemisia Gentileschi: A New Documented Chronology', Art Bulletin, L, 1968, p. 159, no. 51.
M. Gregori, Civiltà del seicento a Napoli, exhibition catalogue, ed. S. Cassani, Museo di Capodimonte, Naples and elsewhere,
1984-5, vol. I, p. 147.
M. Garrard, Artemesia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art, Princeton, 1989, pp. 89, 92-6, 509 n. 148, 510 n. 157, figs. 84-5.
R. Contini and G. Papi, eds., Artemisia, exhibition catalogue, Casa Buonarroti, Florence, 1991, pp. 66, 84, 165, fig. 50.
R. Ward Bissell, Artemisia Gentileschi and the Authority of Art, University Park, Pennsylvania, 1999, no. 27, pp. 239-41, 367 and 385, figs. 121-3, colour pl. XVIII, illustrated on front cover.
E. Cropper, 'Life on the Edge: Artemisia Gentileschi, Famous Women Painters' in the exhibition catalogue Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, eds. K. Christiansen and J.W. Mann, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and elsewhere, 2000-1, pp. 267-8.
London, Arcade Gallery, Cross-currents in Baroque Painting, 1943, cat. 14.
London, Arcade Gallery, Baroque Paintings, March 1948, no. 15.
London, The Royal Academy, Exhibition of Works by Holbein and other Masters of the 16th and 17th Centuries, 1950-1, cat. 368.
Los Angeles, County Museum of Art, and elsewhere, Women Artists, 1550-1950, December 1976-March 1977, no. 14, p. 122.
New York, Wildenstein, Women in Art, September 1995-January 1996, no. 2.
Rome, Museo del Palazzo di Venezia, Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi: Father and Daughter Painters in Baroque Italy, October 2001-January 2002, also travelled to New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, February -May 2002 and The Saint Louis Art Museum, June-September 2002, no. 75, pp. 400-2, illustrated.
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Lot Essay

Painted in 1632, shortly after Artemisia Gentileschi arrived in Naples, Clio: the Muse of History is one of her most accomplished allegorical works. The statuesque young woman depicted, crowned with laurels and dressed in a greenish-blue mantle with richly-textured rust-coloured sleeves over a white chemise, stands with her right hand resting a trumpet on an open book, with her left hand placed on her hip, gazing into the distance. She was formerly identified as a personification of Fame (see Fröhlich-Bume, loc. cit.) and compared with a lost work, from the Royal Collection, depicting a similar figure and also identified as Fame (see Ward Bissell, 1999, op. cit., no. L-30, p. 367).

An alternative identification for this work, however, was first suggested by Ann Sutherland Harris (exhibition catalogue, Los Angeles, 1976, loc. cit.), who recognised the subject as Clio, the Muse of History, and this identification has been accepted by subsequent scholars. According to Cesare Ripa (see Iconologia, Rome, 1603, pp. 142-3, 346) both Fame and Clio shared the trumpet as one of their attributes. Fame, however, is also depicted with an olive branch in her left hand, a gold necklace bearing a heart pendant and wings. Clio, on the other hand is garlanded with laurels and has a book. Given such iconography it is clear that Artemisia's picture depicts the Muse of History, but it is neverthless possible that the painting was initally conceived as a personification of Fame. Cleaning has revealed a dark area above the left shoulder that makes little sense as excess drapery, but could well have been the preparation for a wing, while the left hand may once have held an olive branch.

The reason why Artemisia should have adapted her composition to a clearly recognisable portrayal of Clio, the Muse of History, can be explained by the prominent inscription that can be found in the open book (see Fig.1). This has been variously transcribed, but all commentators agree that it seems to be a dedication to a man called Rosiers. The Rosières family do not appear in Neapolitan sources, instead they were a French noble family, many of whose members served the Dukes in the duchy of Lorraine. One might wonder what interest such a family would have for Artemisia Gentileschi, during her stay in Naples, but as noted by M. Garrard (op. cit.), the Rosières family were prominent members of the household of Charles of Lorraine, 4th Duke of Guise (1572-1640), whom we know was also a patron of Artemisia. He is recorded in a letter written by Artemisia in 1635 to her friend, the astronomer Galileo, paying for a picture from the artist, possibly the present work: ' ultimamente il S.r Duca di Ghisa in ricompensa d'un quadro mio, che gli presentò l'istesso mio fratello, gli diede per me 200 piastre...' (see Ward Bissell, 1999, op. cit., L-95, p. 385).

The most likely reconstruction of the inscription would seem to be '1632 Artemisia faciebat all'Illustre M/Smemorato F.Rosiers' (1632 Artemisia made this for the Illustrious M. in memory of [or for the forgotten] F. Rosiers). This probably refers to François de Rosières (1534-1607), who under the protection of the Cardinal of Guise, became the Archbishop of Toul. In recognition of the Cardinal's beneficence, François published a history of the duchy of Lorraine in 1580, entitled Stemmata Lotharingiae ac Barri ducum, in which, with the aid of spurious sources, he traced a direct line of descent from Charlemagne to the present dukes. Although flattering for the house of Lorraine this seriously offended the King of France, Henry III. Rosiers was imprisoned and only the personal intervention of the Duke of Guise himself saved the unfortunate author from the gallows. On his release Rosiers was restored to his archbishopric, and died in 1607. It is likely that the present picture was commissioned by the Duke of Guise on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Rosières' death.

The Duke of Guise had good reason at this time to commission such a work and thereby record the name of his loyal supporter and the chronicler of his illustrious family, for posterity. The Duke's prominent position as Governor of Provence and Admiral of Levant had brought him into conflict with Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII's chief minister. Recognising the severity of the threat posed by Richelieu, the Duke begged leave of the court for a pilgrimage to Loreto. He left for Italy in 1631, never to return to France. He took up permanent residence in Tuscany, where he no doubt came into contact with Artemisia Gentileschi. The present work can thus be seen as a memorial to the exiled Duke and his family, as well as commemorating François Rosières, whose controversial book celebrated them.

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