Pietro Bianchi (Rome 1694-1740)
Pietro Bianchi (Rome 1694-1740)

Diana and Actaeon; and The Rape of Europa

Pietro Bianchi (Rome 1694-1740)
Diana and Actaeon; and The Rape of Europa
bodycolor on paper
11 3/8 x 18 1/4 in. (28.9 x 46.4 cm.)
with Kate Ganz Ltd., London, where acquired by the following.
Private collection; Sotheby's, New York, 23 January 2003, lot 76 ($110,000).
Sale room notice

We are grateful to Ludovica Trezzani for pointing out that the present works were in the 1760s in the Roman palace of the French ambassador Jacques-Laure de Tonnelier, Balì de Breteuil, where they appear in a drawing by Hubert Robert. The Rape of Europa also appears in a drawing by Jean-Robert Ango (now at Choisel, Château de Breteuil), with Bianchi’s name.

Please note the provenance for this lot should read:

Jacques-Laure de Tonnelier, Balì de Breteuil, French Ambassador in Rome, c. 1765.
Anonymous sale; Ader Picard & Tajan, Paris, 9 March 1988, lot 175.
with Kate Ganz, Ltd., London, where acquired by the following.
Private collection; Sotheby’s, New York, 23 January 2003, lot 76 ($110,000).
with Colnaghi’s, London, by 2004.
Acquired by 2005 by the family of the present owner.

Please note the following literature for this lot:

R. Soprani, Vite de’ pittori, scultori, ed architetti genovese, Genoa, 1769, II, p. 295.
S. Yavchitz Koehler, “Un dessin de Hubert Robert: le salon du bailli de Breteuil à Rome au Musée du Louvre”, Revue du Louvre, XXXVII, 1987, no. 5-6, pp. 369-378.
G. Sestieri, Michele Rocca e la pittura rococo a Roma, Brescia, 2004, pls. LIV and LV.

Please note the following exhibition history for this lot:

Rome, Palazzo Venezia, Il Settecento a Roma, 10 November 2005-26 February 2006, no. 76 a-b, catalogue entry by A. Lo Bianco.

Brought to you by

Nicholas H. J. Hall
Nicholas H. J. Hall

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Lot Essay

These delicate, richly colored gouaches exemplify the distinctive grace which earned Pietro Bianchi the praise of Anthony Clark, who called the artist “the most gifted and intelligent of Roman 18th-century painters” (A.M. Clark, “Introduction to Pietro Bianchi”, Paragone, CLXIX, January 1964, pp. 42-43). A pupil of Giacomo Triga in Rome and later of Giovanni Battista Gaulli in Venice, Bianchi later settled in the Eternal City where he frequently collaborated with Benedetto Luti. In Rome, he worked with Luti on the ceiling decoration of the Martino Room in the Palazzo Colonna at the behest of Don Fabrizio Colonna, and was also contracted to undertake prestigious commissions from Cardinals including Nicola Lercari, Somenico Orsini, and Nicola Spinola.

The story of Diana and Actaeon is recounted in Ovid's Metamorphoses; in it, Actaeon, a young hunter, surprises the goddess Diana during her bath. Embarrassed, she turns him into a stag, which is almost immediately killed by the remaining members of the hunting party, who do not recognize their transformed friend. The Rape of Europa, another subject of choice for centuries of painters, is not from Roman but from Greek mythology. The story tells of the beautiful noblewoman Europa, for whom the continent of Europe is named, and her abduction by the covetous god Zeus who, driven by lust, takes the form of a white bull and carries the maiden away.

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