Diana De Rosa, called Annella di Massimo (Naples 1602-1643) Samson and Delilah, oil on canvas, 101 x 155.5 cm, framed ÜBERLANGTEXT
Private European collection, since circa 2005
We are grateful to Riccardo Lattuada for suggesting the attribution after examining the present painting in the original and for his help in cataloguing.
We are also grateful to Maria Cristina Terzaghi for independently confirming the attribution after examining the present painting in the original.
This previously unpublished painting is an ambitious work and an important addition to the oeuvre of one of the very few female artists active in Naples during the first half of the seventeenth century. It displays the richness and skill of Diana De Rosa as a painter. Her mastery in composition and her care in the execution of figures are clearly demonstrated.
On account of her talent Diana De Rosa achieved notable success as an artist. She trained, together with her younger brother Pacecco De Rosa (1607-1656) in the studio of Massimo Stanzione (1585-1656), where she derived the moniker Annella di Massimo. According to the biographer Bernardo de’ Dominici, apparently without foundation, Diana was murdered by her husband, the painter Agostino Beltrano, who was jealous of the close relationship between Diana and Massimo Stanzione. In fact, it is likely that Diana died of illness in 1643, at the age of 41, and by that time she had become one of the foremost painters of the Neapolitan artistic milieu.
This work can be compared to several works that have been grouped around the name of Diana De Rosa. She is thought to have painted the Stories of the Virgin in Santa Maria della Pietà dei Turchini in Naples. This group was added to by three more Stories of Mary executed for the church of San Giovanni Maggiore in Naples, two of which are today conserved in the Museo Diocesano, Naples (see F. Petrelli, Una luce su Annella de Rosa, in: Ricerche sul ‘600 napoletano. Saggi e documenti, Naples 2008 , pp. 87-92),
Lattuada has suggested dating the present painting to the second half of the 1630s, during Diana de Rosa’s brief maturity. Comparative paintings depicting Lucretia (Dorotheum, 23 October 2018, lot 58) and Saint Agatha (Dorotheum, 22 October 2019, lot 57), both show a highly original interpretation of Massimo Stanzione’s inventions. The model used for Delilah in this painting is the same one depicted as Lucretia. The pointed fingers of Delilah’s hands and of the handmaiden making the gesture of silence in the present painting, recall not only Stanzione’s manner, but also that of Diana’s brother, Pacecco de Rosa (1607–1656), in turn a skillful interpreter of their common master Massimo Stanzione.
The face of the handmaiden is similar to that of Saint Barbara by Diana De Rosa formerly at Sotheby’s, London (see G. Porzio: Ordine teatino e contesto artistico napoletano nel Seicento: Francesco Maria Caselli, Gaspare Del Popolo e una nota su Diana De Rosa, in: Sant’Andrea Avellino e i Teatini nella Napoli del Viceregno spagnolo. Arte Religione e Società, Naples 2012, p. 601, table 7).
Diana De Rosa had contact with Francesco Guarino (1611–1651), who also studied with Massimo Stanzione, and the two soldiers at an opening on the left of the present painting relate to similar figures on the left of Joseph interpreting the dreams of the Pharaoh by Guarino in a private collection (see V. Pacelli, in: Francesco Guarini. Nuovi contributi, p. 81 fig. 14).
Another important component for the creation of the present painting is the figure of the sleeping Samson, which clearly relates to the Samson in the work of the same subject by Artemisia Gentileschi in the Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano, Naples (see fig.1).
As a result, the present composition is a significant example of cultural exchanges and artistic collaboration between painters in the midst of the crowded, creative, competitive and fertile art production during the first half of the seventeenth century in Naples.
Lieu et date de la vente Maîtres Anciens chez Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
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10 novembre 2021
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