National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Bulletin 14, 1969

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Orazio Gentileschi and the 
Theme of "Lot and His Daughters"

by R. Ward Bissell

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It is as yet impossible to establish absolute correlations between the known paintings of Lot and His Daughters by Orazio Gentileschi and pictures of the same subject which are attributed to him in the sources. For this reason, and to facilitate reference, the two catagories are maintained below. At the same time, arguments have been presented which suggest that the following entries are in fact related: Appendix I, l to Appendix, II, i: I, 2 to II, 2; I, 4 to II, 5 and II, 6. A bibliography of those sources which have been given shortened titles in the Appendices follows Appendix II. 

Appendix I

Lot and His Daughters by Orazio Gentileschi 
Known Versions

I. GENOA, T(H)EOPHILATOS COLLECTION, early 20th century (fig. 5)

This painting, known only from the photograph reproduced, might be identified as the Lot and His Daughters executed in Genoa by Orazio Gentileschi about 1622 for Giovan Antonio Sauli (App. II, I). It was accompanied in the Palazzo Sauli by other canvases attributed to Orazio, including a Danaëand a Penitent Magdalen (Soprani, p. 3 17; C. Ratti, Istruzione di quanto puà vedersi di più bello in Genova in pittura, scultura, ed architettura ecc., vol. I, Genoa, 1780, p. 112). By 1792 only the Danaë remained in the Palazzo Sauli (Da Morrona, p. 258). A Magdalen by Gentileschi, cited as a "reclining Magdalen" by w. Suida, Genua, Leipzig, 1906, p. 156, and by H. Voss, Die Malerei des Barock in Rom, Berlin, 1924, p. 460, as in the Palazzo Negrotti in Genoa, may have been the work which Gentileschi painted for Sauli, as VOSS suggested. Apparently it is no longer in Genoa (Sterling, p. I 17, n. 30). 

2. OTTAWA, THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA (fig. 6) Documented History

Orléans Collection: Inventory II, 1752, upon the death of Louis, duc d'Orléans, with attribution to Canlassi (Stryienski, p. 176, no. 331); Inventory III, 1785, upon the death of Louis Philippe d'Orléans, with attribution to Caravaggio (ibid.). No painting representing Lot and His Daughters appears in the first official catalogue of the Orléans collection, that of L. F. Du Bois De Saint-Gelais, Description des tableaux du Palais Royal, Paris, 1727. Short of the assumption that this large canvas had been overlooked (Du Bois does list, though he misattributes, Gentileschi's Finding of Moses, now at Castle Howard), it must be supposed that the Orléans family acquired it sometime between 1727 and 1752. Among the Orléans pictures sold in London, beginning in 1798 (Cat. Lyceum, no. 166) and purchased by Henry Hope as by Velasquez (Stryienski, p. 176, no. 331). In the text it is argued that the engraving by Philippe Trière (fig. 13, from l. Couché, Galerie du Palais Royal, vol. II, Paris, 1808, pl. 87 by actual count) was based upon a smaller and varied replica of the Orléans canvas, even though the size given (4 pieds 6 pouces by 5 pieds 10 pouces, or approximately 145 by 187 cm.) corresponds favourably to the known painting. Hope Sale, 1816, purchased by Croome (Catalogue of Important Pictures by Old Masters C. 1400-1600 from the Northwick Park Collection, London, 1965, p. 26). Anonymous Sale, Stanley's, 12 June1832, lot 88 (ibid.). Thirlestane House, Sale Lord Northwick Coll., 1859, lot 1686, as by Velasquez (ibid.); bought in by George, 3rd Lord Northwick, and taken to Northwick Park; there when catalogued in 1865, no. 25 (T. Borenius, Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures at Northwick Park, London, 1921, pp. vi-vii and 19, no. 34). Sale of Spencer-Churchill Coll., Northwick Park, at Christie's, 28 May 1965, lot 22, bought National Gallery of Canada.

Earlier History-Conjectured

Several scholars have speculated that this canvas came to the Orléans collection from Turin, where it had been sent by the artist himself about 1622 (App. II, 2). The description of the painting formerly at Turin satisfies the visual evidence. The Orléans-Ottawa Lot is very similar to the version which was in Genoa at the beginning of this century and which, I believe, Gentileschi painted for Sauli (fig. 5; App. 1,1 ; II, I). If indeed the work for Turin was a replica of the Genoese example, the case would be similar to that of the Annunciation at Turin (fig. 4), which repeats with variations Orazio's altarpiece in San Siro at Genoa. Rovere's statement that the Lot was in Turin during the 18th century need not be refuted, in that there is no certain indication, as has been shown, that a Lot by Gentileschi was in France until 1752. The suggestion could be advanced that the Orléans family obtained it after the death in 1728 of Anne Marie, the daughter of Philippe I d'orléans and the wife of Victor Amadeus II or Savoy. The question of the differences in size, which in the metric system figures out to 180 X 231 cm. (70 7/8 X 91 in.), from the Turin inventory of 1631, and 180 x 205 cm. (70 7/8 X 80 3/4 in.), from the later inventories of 1635 and before 1646, need not be disturbing. The measurements of all the paintings in the above lists were approximate only, having been rounded off to the nearest whole number.

The only obstacle, then, to identifying the painting at Ottawa with the picture that was formerly in Turin is the cryptic reference by Isarlo, p. 147, to a source dated 1769 which presumably places the Lot and His Daughters in Turin at that time. This same source adds a Woman with the Attributes of Science by Gentileschi, a painting which to my knowledge is not listed elsewhere. Until this publication can be identified and its nature and validity ascertained, a more definite conclusion is impossible. It must be noted, however, that Da Morrona, p. 262, saw in Turin three paintings (in addition to the Annunciation which he names specifically) of 3 braccia wide and proportionately high which were assigned to Gentileschi.

Charles Sterling favours the view that the present work was executed by Gentileschi during his French period (1624-6), although he does suppose that it is "only a repetition of a composition conceived before the French journey, at Genoa, or rather at Turin" (Sterling, pp. 117-18). Sterling's judgement was in part based on the incorrect information regarding the history of the Turin picture as supplied by Campori and Baudi di Vesme (1870 and 1897 respectively) and as discussed below (App. II, 2), Nonetheless, there is evidence not considered by Sterling which might support the view that the canvas was painted in France. In the accounts of "The Sommes of Monnys Gentilesco Hath Recaeved" drawn up by Balthasar Gerbier on 12 September 1629(?), when Orazio was in London, there is listed "the Picture he hath maide in Englant of Lott, that wich the King hath" (Sainsbury, p. 315). This reference is undoubtedly to the work which Sandrart saw in 1628 (App. II, 5). Does the wording of Gerbier's entry imply that he had seen another example? Gerbier was in Paris in 1624 on behalf of his patron the Duke of Buckingham, and remained there into 1625 when Buckingham arrived for the
marriage by proxy of Charles I to Henrietta Maria  (C. R. Cammell, The Great Duke of Buckingham, London, 1939, pp. 357 ff.). In January of 1627, Gerbier appeared again in France (R. S. Magurn, The Letters of Peter Paul Rubens, Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 162-3). There is thus a possibility that he saw the Lot and His Daughters that later belonged to the Orléans. Yet this painting need not have been produced in France by Gentileschi; it is conceivable, as another alternative, that the picture which Orazio is said to have sent from northern Italy to Paris as a gift to Marie de' Medici represented Lot and His Daughters (Da Morrona, p. 258).

Next Page | App. 1, no. 3 to App. II, no. 3
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