Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Siena 1439-1501) and Workshop
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Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Siena 1439-1501) and Workshop

The Death of Virginia

Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Siena 1439-1501) and Workshop
The Death of Virginia
tempera and oil on panel, marouflaged
14 3/8 x 43 ¾ in. (36.5 x 111 cm.)
Private Collection, France.
with Wildenstein, New York.
Frederick W. Field, Greenacres, Beverly Hills, California.
B. Fredericksen, The Cassone Paintings of Francesco di Giorgio, J. Paul Getty Museum Publication No. 4, Malibu, 1969, pp. 23-7, fig. 11, as 'Francesco di Giorgio[?]'.
R. Toledano, Francesco di Giorgio Martini: pittore e scultore, Milan, 1987, p. 153, no. A9 (under erroneous attributions).
A. de Marchi, in Francesco di Giorgio e il Rinascimento a Siena 1450-1500, L. Belossi (ed.), Milan, 1993, p. 242, under no. 38, fig. 2, as Workshop of Francesco di Giorgio.
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Painting in Renaissance Siena 1420-1500, 20 December 1988-19 March 1989, no. 67 (cat. entry by L. Kanter), as 'Workshop of Francesco di Giorgio'.
New York, Berry-Hill Galleries, From Sacred to Sensual: Italian Paintings, 1400-1750, 20 January-14 March 1998, as 'Franceco di Giorgio Martini'.
Special notice
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Abbie Barker
Abbie Barker

Lot Essay

When this cassone front was exhibited in Painting in Renaissance Siena 1420-1500, at the Metropolitan Museum in 1988-89, Laurence Kanter dated it to after 1472, placing it within a larger group of panels painted in the 1460s and ‘70s in the workshop of Francesco di Giorgio, a key figure in later fifteenth-century Siena and beyond. He was painter, architect, sculptor and engineer, working for a period at the court of Duke Federico da Montefeltro in Urbino. This group of cassoni is divided by Kanter into two categories, one showing allegories of Chaste and Carnal Love, the other with biblical or literary subjects, including the Story of Joseph (Siena, Pinacoteca), Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (London, Victoria and Albert Museum), The Rape of Helen (Malibu, J. Paul Getty Museum) and the present lot.

The story in this instance, of the death of Virginia, is told by both Livy in Ab Urbe Condita, and Valerius Maximus. Virginia was the daughter of a centurion, betrothed to Lucius Icilius. Appius Claudius, a Roman decemvir, lusted after Virginia. When she rejected Appius, he plotted to abduct her, conspiring with one of his dependents to obtain her by laying claim to her as a former slave. The case was to come before Appius himself, shown here seated on the left under the canopy, who intended to give judgement in the dependent’s favour. Despite protests from Lucius, Appius’s scheme worked to plan, but before the girl could be led away her father snatched a knife and stabbed her to death – he declared it to be the only way he could secure her liberty.

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