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Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Judith with the Head of Holofernes
pen and brown ink, watermark ‘LT’
8 x 7 ¾ in. (20.4 x 19.7 cm)
Sir Charles Greville, Bt. (1763-1832) (L. 549); by descent to his nephew
George Guy, 4th Earl of Warwick (1818-1893) (L. 2600); Christie’s, London, 30 May 1896, lot 170 (£3 5s. to Greville, with two others).
Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, London, 22 March 1973, lot 42.
with Thos. Agnew and Sons, London (Master Drawings and Prints, 1974, no. 8, ill. on cover).
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth; Sotheby’s, London, 6 July 1987, lot 1.
Kimbell Art Museum, Handbook of the Collection, Fort Worth, 1981, p. 140, ill.
D. Mahon and N. Turner, The Drawings of Guercino in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, Cambridge, 1987, p. 127, under no. 360.
L. Salerno, I dipinti del Guercino, Rome, 1988, p. 347, under no. 277.
N. Turner, The Paintings of Guercino. A Revised and Expanded Catalogue Raisonné, Rome, 2017, p. 529, under no. 240, ill., p. 675, under no. 386.
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These lots have been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Guercino executed two different paintings of Judith with the Head of Holofernes. One, painted in 1651 for the speziale Giacomo Zanoni, is identified with a canvas now in the Musée de Brest (inv. 69-2-1; see Turner, op. cit., no. 386, ill.). An earlier version of the subject was painted for ‘la Principessa Serenissima di Mantova’ and paid for by the Duke of Mantua in 1638, known today only from what appears to be a copy (Turner, op. cit., 240, ill., as by or after Guercino). The poses of the figures in the drawing – with Judith seen frontally and the servant in the right corner of the composition – reveal that this study more closely resembles the lost painting than the canvas in Brest. Another drawing attributed to to Guercino depicting Judith with the Head of Holofernes, executed in black chalk, is in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle (inv. RCIN 902864; see Mahon and Turner, op. cit., no. 360, ill.). It is in the masterly use of pen and ink in the present sheet, however, that the dynamism of the composition is best expressed.

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