PIETRO LONGHI (VENICE 1700/02-1785)
PIETRO LONGHI (VENICE 1700/02-1785)
PIETRO LONGHI (VENICE 1700/02-1785)
PIETRO LONGHI (VENICE 1700/02-1785)
3 More
PIETRO LONGHI (VENICE 1700/02-1785)

Il risveglio della dama (The waking of the lady)

Details
PIETRO LONGHI (VENICE 1700/02-1785)
Il risveglio della dama (The waking of the lady)
oil on canvas
23 5/8 x 19 ¼ in. (60.2 x 48.9 cm.)
Provenance
John Grou, neé Gueroult (b. 1799), Monfiquet, Normandy, and from 1820 the United States, and by descent to,
Mrs. Thomas Jefferson Vail, neé Mary Tudor Grou, Connecticut, and by descent to,
Thomas Gueroult Vail, Connecticut, and by descent to,
John Flagler Vail, Connecticut, and by descent to the present owners.

Brought to you by

Francois de Poortere
Francois de Poortere International Director, Head of Department

Lot Essay

This lively vision of Venetian upper-class life includes all of the elements that lend Pietro Longhi's works their enduring appeal: elegant surroundings, a touch of humor and, above all, a suggestive and slightly racy subject matter. Until the last decade, Il risveglio della dama was known only through an engraving by Charles-Joseph Flipart and a number of copies in reverse, one, by the so-called Maestro dei Riflessi, today in Te Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, and another in the Salom collection, Segromigno Monte, in horizontal format (T. Pignatti, Pietro Longhi, Venice, 1968, figs. 473 and 478).

Many of Longhi's preparatory drawings survive today, including three for the figures ultimately realized here. Longhi's Seated gentleman (fig. 1; Museo Correr, Venice, inv. no. 563) demonstrates the artist's experimentation, sketching the gentleman both with and without his newspaper and evidently determining that its inclusion would more pointedly suggest the woman's ability to distract him from quotidan tasks. Two other preparatory drawings, one for the legs and drapery of the central lady and another for her ladies in waiting can also be found in the Museo Correr, Venice (inv. nos. 562 and 561 respectively).

Rising from her bed at the center of the composition, an elegant young woman coquettishly engages the viewer as attendants help her dress and prepare a bath in a silver basin. The air of luxury and leisure is reinforced by the figure of a gentleman, in a green silk dressing-gown and gold slippers, lounging in a chair in the corner. Though he holds the morning paper in his hand, his attention has clearly been diverted by the flirtations of his pretty companion, who in turn is entirely aware of her audience. Neither appears in any hurry to leave the comfort of the bedroom for the outside world — the gentleman's black cloak and wig rest on their stands in the background and his stockings slide lazily down his legs. On the wall above the bed, a small grisaille of a classical nude also alludes to the power of female beauty. Longhi's figures have characteristically delicate features and are attired in sumptuously depicted fabrics, despite their state of undress. His palette is typically Venetian, bright and clear in tone, the luminous paint surface applied in layered glazes.

Once thought lost, Il risveglio della dama was acquired by French collector, John Grou (born Gueroult) in the early nineteenth century and brought to the United States. Born in Normandy in 1799, Grou emigrated in 1820 and settled in Connecticut, where the painting has remained in his family for generations.

More from Old Master Paintings and Sculpture

View All
View All