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Angelica Kauffmann, R.A. (1741-1807)
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Angelica Kauffmann, R.A. (1741-1807)

Phryne seducing the philosopher Zenokrates

Angelica Kauffmann, R.A. (1741-1807)
Phryne seducing the philosopher Zenokrates
signed, inscribed and dated 'Angelica Kauffman. pinx: Roma 1794' (upper left)
oil on canvas
17 x 18 7/8 in. (43 x 47.5 cm.)
Commissioned by George Bowles, The Grove, Wanstead and by descent to his sister, Jane, Lady Rushout, wife of Sir John Rushout, 5th Bt., later 1st Baron Northwick, of Northwick Park, Worcestershire, and by descent through their daughter Harriet, who married Sir Charles Cockerell, 2nd Bt., who assumed the name of Rushout after the death of the 3rd Baron Northwick in 1859, to their son Charles Fitzgerald Cockerell, 3rd Bt; his sale, Phillips & Neale, London.
with Tooth, London.
Memorandum of Paintings by Angelica Kauffmann, Rome, 1794, no. 2 'For Mr Bowles of London 4 small pictures ... The Beautiful courtesan Phryne trying to seduce the philosopher Zenocrates he resists her but he does not succumb to her seductions'
A. Zucchi, Indice Della Seconda Parte Delle Opere do Angelica Kauffmann Zucchi, unpublished manuscript, Vienna, National library, no. 19.
Giovanni Gherardo de Rossi, Pisa, 1811, p. 81.
B. Baumgärtel,Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807), Bedingungen weiblicher Kreativität in der Malerei des 18. Jahrhunderts, 1987 dissertation, published by Weinheim, Basel, 1990, no. 81, pl. 94.
B. Baumgärtel, 'Der weibliche Raphael der Kunst. Werke der Angelika Kauffmann in Schweizer Sammlungen', Kunst + Architektur, April, 1995, p. 383, pl. 9.
Dusseldorf, Kunstmuseum; Munich, Haus der Kunst; and Chur, Bundner Kunstmuseum, Angelica Kauffmann 1741-1807 Retrospective, 15 November 1998 - 11 July 1999, no. 196.
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Lot Essay

This picture and its companion were one of a series of four pictures commissioned by John Bowles showing different types of female love.

Phryne was a famous Athenian courtesan and seductress of the 4th Century B.C., who acquired so much wealth by her beauty that she offered to rebuild the walls of Thebes if she might put on them the inscription that 'Alexander destroyed them, but Phryne the hetaera rebuilt them'. It is recorded that when she was being tried on a capital charge, her defender, who failed to move the judges by his eloquence asked her to uncover her bosom and that she did so and the judges, struck by her beauty, acquitted her on the spot. She was also said to have been the model for Praxiteles' Cnidian Venus and also for Apelles picture of Venus rising from the sea. Zenocrates (396-314 B.C.) was a disciple of Plato, who combined Pythagoreanism with Platonism, who was noted for his continence and his contempt for wealth. Phryne decided to attempt to seduce Zenocrates and pretended to have fled to his house from some robbers. He invited her to share his narrow bed and she tried everything to seduce him but he remained steadfast and eventually she was forced to relent. She subsequently related that he was not a man but a statue.

John Bowles who is recorded as having commissioned this and the following lot was a member of the Bowles family of North Aston. A connoiseur with considerable means, he became one of Angelica Kauffmann's most important patrons, and the largest collector of her works in England. On his death his collection and fortune passed to his sister Rebecaa, Lady Rushout, whose husband Sir John Rushout became Lord Northwick in 1797 and their son assumed the name Bowles in addition to that of Rushout.

We are grateful to Dr. Bettina Baumgärtel for her assistance with this catalogue entry.

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