Sebastiano del Piombo (?Venice 1485/6-1547 Rome)
Sebastiano del Piombo (?Venice 1485/6-1547 Rome)

Portrait of a lady, half-length, in a white shawl and headdress, at a parapet

Sebastiano del Piombo (?Venice 1485/6-1547 Rome)
Portrait of a lady, half-length, in a white shawl and headdress, at a parapet
oil on panel
27 ¼ x 21 ¼ in. (69.2 x 54 cm.)
Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), by 1908.
Dr. Carl Sanderstrom, Stockholm, by 1933.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 27 March 1968, lot 89, when acquired by Lord Kennet.
P. d'Achiardi, Sebastiano del Piombo, Rome, 1908, pp. 207-209, fig. 43.
G. Bernardini, "Quattro dipinti inediti o pochissimo noti in Roma", Bollettino d'Arte, Rome, 1911, pp. 230-232.
T. Borenius in J.A. Crowe, G.B. Cavalcaselle, A New History of Painting in Italy, Umbria, Florence and Siena, ed. T. Borenius, III, London, 1912, p. 250, note 3.
A. Venturi, Storia dell'Arte Italiana, IX, part 5, Milan, 1932, p. 82.
G. Gombosi, 'Piombo, fra Sebastiano del, propriamente Sebastiani Luciani o de' Lucianis', in U. Thieme, F. Becker, Allgemeines Lexicon der bildenden Kunstler..., XXVII, Leipzig, 1933, p. 73.
O. Sirén, Italianeska Tavlor och Technigar, Stockholm, 1933, p. 123, no. 78.
L. Dussler, Sebastiano del Piombo, Basel, 1942, pp. 86 and 141, no. 51, fig. 61.
R. Pallucchini, Sebastian Viniziano (Fra Sebastiano del Piombo), Milano, 1944, pp. 72, 135 and 171, pl. 78.
M. Lucco, L' opera completa di Sebastiano del Piombo, Milan, 1980, p. 124, no. 99.
M. Hirst, Sebastiano del Piombo, Oxford, 1981, pp. 117-9 and 147, fig. 191.
R. Contini, in the exhibition catalogue, Sebastiano del Piombo, 1485-1547, Rome and Berlin, 2008, pp. 230-1, no. 56, raising on the basis of a photograph the possibility that this is 'a copy of the lost original by Sebastiano'.
Stockholm, National Museum, Old Italian Art, 3 March-16 April 1944, no. 127, illustrated.

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Lot Essay

Judgement about this portrait has to make allowance for its condition. It was accepted as a late autograph work by Michael Hirst (op. cit., 1981) but Professor Roberto Contini (op. cit., 2008) has questioned this. Professor Mauro Lucco regards a larger panel formerly in the Dolgorukov collection as autograph. Rather larger and evidently better preserved, this differs most obviously in the position of the frontal parapet, which is placed lower, but was originally in same position as in the Kennet picture. A copy formerly in the Barberini collection and recorded as on loan in Palazzo Venezia, Rome (which Lucco, on the basis of photographs, regarded as by Sebastiano’s studio), corresponds in this respect with the Kennet picture, and suggests that this has been reduced, most noticeably on the left, but also above, and possibly at the outer edges. The Dolgorukov version corresponds in size with the picture recorded in Barberini inventories, but the Kennet picture may very well originally have been on the same scale. Despite its condition, the modelling of such passages as the right hand and what survives of the drapery seems characteristic of the artist and the picture was presumably Sebastiano’s prototype. Hirst comments that it was 'once very beautiful' (op.cit., p. 208). The survival of a version and a copy imply that the sitter was a personage of some significance.

Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), the artist, was a notable collector of old master pictures, including Titian’s Tarquin and Lucrezia, which he presented to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and old master drawings, his collection of which he sold to J. Pierpont Morgan in 1910.

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