We are grateful to Professor Riccardo Lattuada for noting that this picture probably dates to circa 1695-1700.
Francesco Solimena was a prolific artist, producing a number of frescoes, altarpieces, mythological paintings and portraits. He dominated Neapolitan painting during the first half the 1700s. His paintings show the influence of the Baroque style of his predecessor, Luca Giordano. He received a number of prestigious commissions, including those from Prince Eugene of Savoy and Louis XIV of France.
This picture was once part of the art collection at Lowther Castle, which has remained the family seat of the Earls of Lonsdale since the Norman Conquest. William, 2nd Viscount Lowther, recreated Earl of Lonsdale in 1807, was responsible for many of the improvements to the estate, namely the building of the new Lowther Castle by the young architect, Sir Robert Smirke. His eldest son, William, 2nd Earl of Lonsdale, formed an impressive art collection to decorate the castle. He was also a shrewd businessman, promoting the railways in Cumberland and Westmorland as well as holding the post of 1st Lord of the Admiralty. Following his death in 1872, he was succeeded by his nephew Henry, as 3rd Earl of Lonsdale, but he died four years later. The castle then passed to his eldest son, St George Henry who, plagued by illness, died young in 1882; whereupon he was succeeded by his younger brother Hugh as 5th Earl. Hugh Lonsdale, known as "Lordy" or "Yellow Earl" was Earl of Lonsdale until 1944. On his death, the title and estates passed to his (then aged) youngest brother Lancelot, who sold the majority of the family collections in 1947 in the largest of all English 20th Century country house sales, offering a total of nearly 8,000 lots, spread over several weeks.