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

The Personification of Charity

Francesco Solimena (Canale di Serino 1657-1747 Barra)
The Personification of Charity
oil on canvas
19¼ x 30¼ in. (48.8 x 76.8 cm.)
Almost certainly acquired by Sir Hugh Cholmley, 4th Bt. (1632-1688), and by descent at Whitby, through his only daughter Mary (1667 - 1748), wife of Nathaniel Cholmley, whose son Hugh Cholmley married Catherine Wentworth, heiress to the Howsham estate, in 1741, thence by descent.
The contents of Howsham Hall were sold in 1948, and the pictures were subsequently on loan (see below).
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 17 December 1999, lot 61 (£34,500), to the present owner.
Henrietta Strickland, Catalogue of the Pictures at Howsham, 1852, mss., recorded on the staircase.
A. Oswald,'Howsham Hall - II', Country Life, LXXVII, 1935, pp. 221-223.
Los Pinceles de la Historia. El Origen del Reino de la Nueva España, 1680-1750, Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, 1999, pp. 87-90.
York, City Art Gallery, circa 1948.
Whitby Museum.
Mexico City, Castle of Chapultepec, 1954, an exhibition devoted solely to this series of eight paintings.
Mexico City, the British Embassy, on loan 1954-1999.

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Alan Wintermute
Alan Wintermute

Lot Essay

Professor Nicola Spinosa confirmed the attribution and identified this picture as a bozzetto for one of Solimena's Theological Virtues painted in fresco between the windows in the Church of Santa Maria di Donnalbina, Naples. This decoration, and that of the cupola depicting Paradise and the Vision of Saint Benedict with its pendentives representing the Evangelists, can be dated to the last five years of the seventeenth century. For the crossing, Solimena painted six large canvasses depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin.

Another bozzetto relating to this series of the Virtues depicts Faith with a similar niche behind her (The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California; see N. Spinosa, La pittura Napoletana del '600, Milan, 1984, fig. 752). Two more, depicting Hope and Humility (?) (not showing the niche behind the Virtues) were sold at Christie's, London, 15 April 1983, lot 13.

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