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

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8 


A. Whitby, curator at Burghley House, has kindly informed me that according to tradition this panel was presented to the 9th Earl of Exeter on 18 July 1774, by Pope Clement XIV (Giovanni Vincenzo Ganganelli). Orazio's small Madonna and Child in a Landscape at Burghley House is slid to have the same provenance. It must be mentioned, however, that in the early 18th century Vertue thought he recognized paintings by Gentileschi at Stamford: "in the chappel old pictures by Gentileschi (I imagine)." Walpole Society, vol. XX, 1931-2 (Vertue vol. II), p. 34. In the text the authenticity of this version is questioned. 

Orazio for Charles I, specifically the Finding of Moses (now at Castle Howard) which was sold in 1651 along with the Lot and His Daughters and to the same buyers, also came into the possession of Charles II of Spain.


See, in addition to the discussion below, App. II, 5 and II, 6. With the exception of minor details of foliage and an accentuation of the Rames issuing from the distant town, the pjcture at Bilbao corresponds exactly to Lucas Vorstermann's engraving of the Lot and His Daughters by Gentileschi which belonged to Charles I of England (fig. 12; App. II, 5 ; H. Voss, Die Malerei des Barock in Rom, Berlin, 1924, p. 460; O. Millar in Walpole Society, vol. XXXVII, 1958-60, p. 235n.). While Orazio did execute replicas of many of his compositions (there are, for example, four generally accepted versions of his Rest on the Flight into Egypt), the variations are often more extensive than those between the engraving and the canvas at Bilbao. In addition, the Lot and His Daughters formerly in the Casa de Alba, and in the 17th century in the collection of the Marqués del Carpio, measured 3 1/2 varas or 292 cm. (115 in.) in width, very close to the present size of the Bilbao painting. Pérez Sánchez, p. 503, believes that the two paintings might be the same.

On the basis of the above considerations and the documentation collected in App. II, 5 and II, 6, the following history of the Lot and His Daughters is proposed: English Royal Collection, in the possession of Queen Henrietta Maria; sold, April 1651; restored to the Crown after 1660; passed to Henrietta Anne, daughter of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, and then to her daughter, Marie Louise, first wife of Charles II of Spain; by gift to the Marqués del Carpio y de Heliche, Don Gaspar de Guzmán, Ambassador to Rome (1677-83) and Viceroy of Naples (1683-7) under Charles II; by inheritance to the Casa de Alba; unknown; Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao, early 20th century.

In support of the above proposal, which has the virtue of explaining how the picture could have reached Spain from England, one further fact and one further theory can be introduced. First, the Marqués del Carpio also owned an Apollo and the Muses by Gentileschi which was, without question, a work of the artist's English period and which may have been painted for Charles I (App. II, 6). Secondly, and as I will demonstrate in a subsequent study, there is some reason to believe that another painting done by Orazio for Charles I, specifically the Finding of Moses (now at Castle Howard) which was sold in 1651 along with the Lot and His Daughters and to the same buyers, also came into possession of Charles II of Spain.

Appendix II

Lot and His Daughters by Orazio Gentileschi Versions of the Theme Mentioned in the Sources 


Described by Soprani, p. 317, when in the Sauli collection as "a Lot who with his daughters flees the fire of his homeland" (un Loth che con le figlie fugge l'incendio della propria patria). Sterling, p. 117, n. 36, incorrectly read "che con la famiglia" and contended that the picture was, technically. Lot's Family Fleeing Sodom. However, no such picture by Gentileschi is known, and although in a letter to Turin Orazio himself speaks of a "fuga di Lotto," the painting for the Duke of Savoy actually represented "Lot with his daughters near a rock, lying asleep on the knee of one of the daughters" (see below, no. 2). Moreover, in all of Orazio's versions of the theme, one of the daughters indicates either the distant land or the burning city itself from which they had fled. Finally, I believe that the example formerly in the T(h)eophilatos collection at Genoa (App. I, I; fig. 5) and the painting which belonged to Sauli are identical.


In a letter from Genoa dated 2 April 1623, Gentileschi informed Carlo Emanuele I, Duke of Savoy, that he had sent to Turin an Annunciation (fig. 4) as a follow-up to a "fuga di Lotto" which had apparently pleased the Duke (Baudi di Vesme, 1932, pp. 319-20; A. Griseri in Paragone, vol. XII, no. 141, 1961, pp. 27-8 and pl. 42). The Lotis also mentioned in the following inventories of the royal collection at Turin:

(a) l September 1631: "quadro del Lotto del Gentileschi, cornice dorata, larg.a p.di 4 1/2 alt.a 3 1/2" (Campori, p. 82).

(b) 1635: "Lot con le due figlie vicini a un sasso, figure intiere. Del Gentilesco. De'migliori. A. p. 3 1/2 .L. p. 4" (Baudi di Vesme, 1897, p. 43, no. 205).

(c) Before 1646: "Quadro quadrilongo, alto piedi 3 1/2 longo piedi 4 circa, rappresentante 'Lot con le sue figliole vicino ad un sasso coricato sulla ginocchia d'una d'esse figliole che dorme,' figure intiere di mano del pittore Gentileschi" (Rovere, p. 64, n. 19).

The measurements are undoubtedly in piedi liprandi, or 51.3 cm. (20Y4 in.) (Baudi di Vesme, 1897, p. 351, n. I). The size is thus given variously as 180 X 231 cm. (70 7/8 X 91 in.) and 180 x 205 cm. (70 7/8 x 80 3/4 in.). Campori, p. 82, n. 3, claimed that the Lot was among the works taken to France in 1799, that it had been recovered, and was then in the Royal Pinacoteca as no. 244. In point of fact, no. 244 refers to Orazio's famous Annunciation (fig. 4) which was in the seconda spedizione of 1799 and was returned to Turin in 1815 or 1816 (Baudi di Vesme, 1897, pp. 15,
24 and 49, n. 3 ; Rovere, pp. 78 ff., n. 102). Nor is a Lot and His Daughters included in the list of those paintings which had remained in Turin and which were to form the nucleus of a museum there (Rovere, p. 86, n. 105). When Roberto d'Azeglio, La Reale Galleria di Torino, vol. I, Turin, 1836, p. 60, and Rovere, p. 64, n. 19, wrote, the Lot was not to be found in Turin. Baudi di Vesme contradicted himself; in 1897 (p. 43 , n. I) he maintained that the Lot was then in the Palazzo Reale, whereas in a manuscript of his that was not published until 1932 (in Atti della Società Piemontese, vol. XIV, p. 320) it is claimed, on the authority of Rovere (1858; note the date), that the Lot was no longer in the royal collection. Baudi di Vesme adds, however, that it still existed there in the 18th century, where it served as a sopraporta and pendant to a St Sebastian also by Gentileschi. A publication of 1769 (alluded to, but not specified, by Isarlo, p. 147) evidently states that the Lot was then at Turin, but it has been impossible to determine the validity of this report.

It is absolutely clear, however, that there is no reason to believe, as Sterling, p. 117, n. 36, had on the basis of the incorrect information supplied by Campori (1870) and Baudi di Vesme (1897), that a Lot and His Daughters by Orazio Gentileschi was still in Turin during the 19th century. In fact, the picture for the Duke of Savoy may have entered the Orléans collection in France between 1727 and 1752 (App. I, 2). 

3. PARIS, LE BRUN SALE, II April 1791

No.43, with the attribution to Velasquez, to whom the example, in the Orléans collection (App. I, 2) was also assigned: "Loth et ses filles, petit tableau du grand dans la coli. du Palais d'Orléans. Bois. H. 9 pouces L. 1212 pouces" (Sterling, p. 117, n. 34). An 18th-century copy? Perhaps purchased by a certain Pamard of Avignon (see next entry). 

Next Page | App. II, no. 4 to 7
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