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Portrait of a Woman

dell'Abate Niccolò

(Modena 1512 - Fontainebleau 1571)

The regular, well-defined features of the woman portrayed here forcefully recall models of Girolamo da Carpi and Parmigianino. The artist emphasises these traits through the use of dim light which allows the young woman’s bust to delicately emerge from the dark background. Elegantly dressed, with her hair gathered in a refined hairnet, she wears no jewellery with the exception of an earring with a pearl pendant, which together with the jasmine flowers in her décolletage probably alludes to her chastity.


Object details

Inventory
077
Location
Date
metà XVI secolo
Classification
Period
Medium
oil on parchment applied on canvas
Dimensions
cm 48 x 37
Frame

Salvator Rosa (59.2 x 48 x 5.8 cm)

Provenance

Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 26); purchased by Italian state, 1902.

 

Exhibitions
  • 1969 Bologna,
  • 1998-1999 Milano, Palazzo Reale (L'anima e il volto);
  • 2005 Modena, Foro Boario
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 2002-2003 Andrea Parri, restauro della cornice

Commentary

This refined portrait was originally painted on parchment and later transposed to canvas. It is mentioned for the first time in connection with the Borghese Collection in the Inventario Fidecommissario of 1833; here it is listed as work of the school of Veneto.

Following conversations with Giovanni Morelli, in 1891 Giovanni Piancastelli attributed the work to the Bolognese artist Lorenzo Sabatini, justly recognising its Emilian character, which critics had until then overlooked. In line with this suggestion, Carlo Gamba (1924) later proposed the name of Niccolò dell'Abate. Subsequently his hypothesis was strengthened by a comparison of the work in question with another one held at the Prado Museum. While Roberto Longhi (1928) accepted the suggestion with reservations, all later critics, beginning with Aldo de Rinaldis (1935), embraced the idea (Beguin 1962; Ead. 1969; Sansone 1998; Beguin 2005; Herrmann Fiore 2006). Likewise, Paola della Pergola (1955) published the work with the attribution to the artist from Modena; noting the similarities between the woman here and the female figure of the Colloque amoureux in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Algiers, this scholar pointed to a common style which placed the painting in question ‘in the sphere of works influenced by Dosso Dossi’.

Antonio Iommelli




Bibliography
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 68;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 74;
  • R. Fournier-Sarlovéze, Artistes oubliés, II. Sofonisba Anguissola et ses soeurs. Paris 1902, p. 34;
  • C. Gamba, Un ritratto e un paesaggio di Nicolo dell’Abate, in “Cronache d’Arte”, I, 1924, pp. 77-89;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 183;
  • A. Venturi, Storia dell'Arte Italiana, IX, Roma 1933, p. 605;
  • E. Bodmer, L’attività artistica di Nicolò dell’Abate a Bologna, in “Il Comune di Bologna”, IX-XII, 1934, p. 37;
  • A. O. Quintavalle, Parmigianino, Milano 1948, p. 107;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1951, p. 40;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, pp. 57-58, n. 96;
  • S. Béguin, Niccolò dell'Abate en France, in “Art de France”, II, 1962, p. 207;
  • S. Béguin, in Mostra di Nicolò dell’Abate, catalogo della mostra (Bologna, Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, 1969), a cura di S. M. Béguin, Bologna 1969, n. 23;
  • G. Godi, Niccolò Dell’Abate e la presunta attività del Parmigianino a Soragna, Parma 1976, p. 86;
  • R. Sansone, in L’anima e il volto: ritratto e fisiognomica da Leonardo a Bacon, catalogo della mostra (Milano, Palazzo Reale, 1998-1999), a cura di F. Caroli, Milano 1998, p. 124;
  • C. Stefani in P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 245;
  • F. Lucantoni, Il Museo senza confini. Dipinti ferraresi del Rinascimento nelle raccolte romane, a cura di J. Bentini, S. Guarino, Milano 2002, p. 118, n. 1 (con bibl. prec.);
  • S. Béguin, in Niccolò Dell’Abate: storie dipinte nella pittura del Cinquecento tra Modena e Fontainebleau, catalogo della mostra (Modena, Foro Boario, 2005), a cura di S. Béguin, F. Piccinini, Cinisello Balsamo 2005, pp. 355-356, n. 139;
  • 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. 29.