A new addition to the oeuvre of Donato Creti, this allegorical figure relates to the composition, of slightly larger dimensions, in the Museé des Beaux-Arts, Tours, dated by Roli to the third decade of the eighteenth century (see R. Roli, Donato Creti, Milano, 1967, p. 97, no. 98, fig. 54). The present picture differs from the Tours version in the employment of a more delicate palette and the inclusion of small details, notably the figure's earring.
Whilst the picture at Tours has a pendant depicting an Allegorical female figure holding a vase (ibid., p. 97, no. 99, fig. 55), the present canvas would appear to be the companion of a Magadalen, formerly in a private collection, Bologna (see M. Riccomini, "Aggiunte al Creti", in Accademia Clementina. Atti e memorie, 24, 1989, p. 63, pl. 45). This Magdalen, thought to have been owned by the "signori conti" Fava, patrons of a generation of artists who were close to the young Donato Creti, is described by the 18th century Bolognese writer, Marcello Oretti as: 'femmina con teschio di morte in mano, figura come il naturale' (Le pitture che si ammirano nei palazzi e case nobili della città, II, c. 1780, Bologna, Biblioteca Comunale dell'Archiginnasio, ms. B 104, f. 62/24). It would therfore seem reasonable to identify the present picture as that described a few lines below: 'Sibilla, figura naturale' (ibid., f. 62/31).
These meditative works, combining grace of form and precision of contour, are characteristic of Creti's individual and poetic art which represents the last significant expression of the classical-idealist strain in Bolognese painting.