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Francesco Solimena (Canale di Serino 1657-1747 Barra)
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Francesco Solimena (Canale di Serino 1657-1747 Barra)

Temperance, Prudence and Fortitude: Design for a pendentive

Details
Francesco Solimena (Canale di Serino 1657-1747 Barra)
Temperance, Prudence and Fortitude: Design for a pendentive
black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown and grey wash, shaped
16¾ x 12¾ in. (425 x 322 mm.)
Provenance
J. Richardson Jr. (L. 2170), his mount and inscriptions 'Pietro da Cortona' and '[Be]rettini, called Pietro da Cortona. Born at Cortona in 1596. died in 1669 aged 73. Disciple of Andrea Commodi, or, according to others of...'.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, Paris, 17 March 2005, lot 314.
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Lot Essay

A study for the fresco in the corner of the sacristy of S. Paolo Maggiore, an early (1689-90), ambitious commission in the artist's native city of Naples. No other drawing or bozzetto for this commission is known.
The drawing exhibits Solimena's typical early style with its use of grey and brown wash. His exuberant, painterly use of the wash is evocative of his oil sketches. The artist's free brushwork accounts for the lack of symmetry in the beautiful shaped architectural framework and the inventive decorative scrollwork which differs greatly from the very simple framing as eventually executed in the church.
The iconographic scheme for the entire fresco programme included other frescoes of allegorical figures of Faith, Hope and Charity and two large frescoes of The Conversion of Saint Paul and The Fall of Simon Magus.
Solimena's frescoes for S. Paolo Maggiore were celebrated in his lifetime and throughout the 18th Century by critics, other artists and Grand Tourists. Fragonard on his first voyage through the Italian peninsula in 1759-61 made several drawings after these frescoes, including one of the present composition and the angels in the supporting arches (P. Rosenberg and B. Brejon de Lavergnée, Panopticon italiano, un diario di viaggio ritrovato 1759-61, Rome, 1986, p. 340, nos. 18-9).
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