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Leda

copy after Allegri Antonio called Correggio

(Correggio c. 1489 - 1534)

The canvas entered the Borghese Collection in the early 19th century, just a few years before the purchase of Correggio’s Danaë in 1827 on the part of Camillo Borghese. Together with this Leda, the prince came into possession of the copy of Jupiter and Io (inv. no. 128) in order to ideally recompose the series of Jupiter’s loves, which Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, gave to Emperor Charles V in 1530.

This modest copy, however, only reproduces the final act of the amorous encounter narrated by Ovid, in which Leda gathers up her garments while the swan flies upwards: evidently this is a partial replica with several variations, given that in the original – held today at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin – the garments are brought to the girl by a maid while the swan flies away without looking back.

 


Object details

Inventory
122
Location
Date
17th century
Classification
Period
Medium
oil on canvas
Dimensions
cm 65 x 49
Frame

Salvator Rosa, 77 x 61 x 5 cm

Provenance

(?) Paris, collection of Pierre Crozat, 1741 (Mariette 1741, p. 32, no. 102; M. Stuffman 1965 in Borghese Archive 407, VII/I); Rome, collection of Camillo Borghese, 1812 (Inv. 1812, p. 110); Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 25). Purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1952 Augusto Cecconi Principi
  • 1953 Mauro Manca
  • 2008

Commentary

The provenance of this small canvas is still unknown. In spite of attempts to identify this work and the Jupiter and Io (inv. no. 128) with two similar compositions documented in 1741 in Pierre Crozat’s collection (this was the idea put forth by Margret Stuffmann in a letter sent to the Galleria in 1965), critics have always preferred to ignore this fascinating and highly likely hypothesis, perhaps feeling that the popularity of the originals led to the production of numerous replicas and variations over the centuries, which are held today at the most important museums of the world (see Quintavalle 1970).

If, on the other hand, we reject this theory, we must conclude that the work entered the collection of the Casino di Porta Pinciana between the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as the canvas is not mentioned in 17th- or 18-century Borghese inventories. Only in 1812 was the work first cited among the family belongings. On this occasion, it was cited together with the Jupiter and Io in the so-called ‘Room of the Venuses’, which had been arranged in one of the spaces of the Palazzo di Campo Marzio (Minozzi 2008).

In the opinion of Paola della Pergola (1955), the painting was executed by one of the followers of Francesco Albani. It is likely that Camillo Borghese intended to ideally reconstruct the series of the Jupiter’s loves; indeed several years later he purchased the splendid work by Correggio depicting princess Danaë (inv. no. 25), which, as is well known, once formed part of the collections of Charles V and of those of Rudolf II in Prague from 1598.

Perhaps made after the Rospigliosi-Colonna-Costaguti-Ferraguti Leda (Della Pergola 1955), this copy reproduces only a small part of the original panel. According to Knauer (1970), this is due to the inconvenient location of Correggio’s version, whose position on the walls of the gallery of paintings in Prague made a complete reproduction quite difficult: like many other copies, the Borghese canvas (which Knauer does not mention) only shows the detail that was well visible to painters, namely the final act of the mythical encounter, when Leda gathers her clothes while the swan flies into the sky.

Antonio Iommelli




Bibliography
  • J. P. Mariette, Catalogue des tableaux et bronzes de M. Crozat, Paris 1741 [ed. 1973], p. 32, n. 102;
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 85;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 93;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 189;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, pp. 26-27, n. 28;
  • R. Longhi, Saggi e ricerche 1925-28. Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane. La Galleria Borghese, Firenze 1967, p. 339;
  • E. Verheyen, Correggiův cyklus Amori di Giove, Umění 1968, p. 429-441, pp. 429-443;
  • K. M. Swoboda, Die Io und der Ganymed des Correggio in der Wiener Gemäldegalerie, in K.M. Swoboda, Kunst und Geschichte: Vorträge und Aufsätze, pp. 165-179, Wien 1969, p. 30;
  • A. C. Quintavalle, L’Opera Completa del Correggio, Milano 1970, p. 109;
  • E. R. Knauer, Zu Correggios Io und Ganymed, in “Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte”, XXXIII, 1970, pp. 61-67;
  • S. Staccioli, L'avventurosa storia delle Danae, in La Danae e la pioggia d'oro. Un capolavoro di Antonio Allegri detto il Correggio restaurato, Roma 1991, pp. 13-14;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 44;
  • M. Minozzi, in Correggio e l’antico, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Galleria Borghese, 2008), a cura di A. Coliva, Milano 2008, pp. 62-63.