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ART 4 2-DAY 28 August
Died on 28 August 1652: Benjamin Gerritszoon
Cuyp, Dutch painter born in 1612.
Cuyp is the name of a family of Dutch painters of Dordrecht, of which three members gained distinction. Benjamin Gerritszoon Cuyp was the son of a glass painter. He is noted principally for paintings of biblical and genre scenes which use Rembrandtesque light and shadow effects.
Jacob Gerritszoon Cuyp [Dec 1594-1651] was the half-brother of Benjamin. Aelbert Cuyp (20 Oct 1620 - 15 Nov 1691) is the most famous member of the family. He was the son of Jacob Gerritszoon Cuyp.
The Angel Is Opening Christ's Tomb (1640, 72x90cm) _ Cuyp was not a student of Rembrandt, however, he repeated Rembrandt's subjects several times. This painting is a somewhat modified version of Rembrandt's painting of the same subject. Cuyp painted the same subject in another four versions.
— The Resurrection of Lazarus (81x126cm; 430x678pix, 78kb)
— Annunciation to the Shepherds (84x115cm; 435x599pix, 118kb)
Peasants in the Tavern (53x76cm) _ Benjamin Gerritsz Cuyp belonged to the Cuyp family of Dutch painters. He was the half-brother of Jacob Gerritszoon Cuyp, father of the most famous member of the family, Aelbert Cuyp. Benjamin is noted principally for paintings of biblical and genre scenes which use "Rembrandtesque" light and shadow effects.
— A Brawl (oval 480x646pix, 130kb)
Died on 28 August 1904: Arthur Melville.
Born on 10 April 1855, Melville was an avant-garde Scottish painter known for his wild watercolor technique that emphasized intense colors and blownout whites. When he was 28 years old he traveled to Egypt and lived in Cairo for two years. In 1882 while traveling cross country by horse on a trip from Bagdad to the Black Sea he was twice attacked by bandits. The second time he was captured, robbed, stripped and left to die naked of exposure and thirst, he was saved by the local Iraqis and was later able to help the authorities hunt down and execute the robbers. The local Pasha liked Melville but was suspicious that he might be a British spy. Melville was detained for several weeks and during this period witnessed scenes such as the one in the painting.
Awaiting an Audience with the Pasha (watercolor, 1882). The Blue Night, Venice (1897) Audrey and her Goats (1886)
Born on 28 August 1810: Constant Troyon,
School painter, specialized in Landscapes
who died on 20 March 1865.
— Troyon's students included Evariste-Vital Luminais.
The son of an employee at the Sèvres porcelain factory, he received lessons from the flower painter Denis-Désiré Riocreux (1791-1872) and the landscapist Antoine-Achille Poupart (born 1788), both fellow employees of the factory. Through Roqueplan he met Diaz, Jules Dupré and Rousseau who were later to become, like Troyon, members of the Barbizon school of landscape painters. He first painted in the forest of Fontainebleau in the 1840s, but he also visited other parts of France including Brittany, the Dauphiné and Normandy. He greatly admired seventeenth-century Dutch painting and visited Holland in 1847. Partly influenced by the paintings of Cuyp and Potter, he turned in his later career principally to animal subjects which won him considerable financial success. [Nous croyons Troyon trouillon? Non.]
— Un Paysan dans sa Charrette (main detail 877x1171pix, 148kb — ZOOM TO FULL PICTURE 2066x2548pix, 1340kb — or, for more fun than watching paint dry, but not a better picture, try this 2066x2548pix, 9794kb)
— Retour du Travail (main detail 882x1185pix, 148kb — ZOOM TO FULL PICTURE 1997x2630pix, 919kb — or, for more fun than watching grass grow, try this 1997x2630pix, 8630kb)
— Paysage Pastoral en Touraine (1860; 890x1188pix, 136kb — ZOOM to 1906x2786pix, 1376kb — or, for more fun than watching a glacier's flow, try this 1906x2786pix, 10'313kb)
— Un Garde-Chasse Mène ses Chiens dans un Bois (1860; 810x1032pix, 114kb — ZOOM to 2024x2579pix, 796kb — or, for more fun than watching a turtle sleep, try this 2024x2579pix, 8225kb)
— Le Vacher (1862; 1514x2024pix, 420kb)
— Scène Pastorale (1862, 1599x2024pix, 445kb)
— Cascade dans un Bois (1862; 1816x2560pix, 870kb)
Landscape with Oxen (1855, 39x62cm) Approaching Storm (69x96cm)
Beach At Trouville (72x118cm) La Vallée (73x93cm) Plowing (54x65cm)
Died on 28 August 1916: Henri-Joseph
Harpignies, French painter specialized in Landscapes,
born on 28 July 1819.
Although Harpignies was already twenty-seven years old when he began to study painting with Jean Achard, he had a long and successful career. Best known for his paintings and watercolors of landscapes, he also made etchings, drypoints, and a small number of lithographs that represented rural subjects.
From the mid1860s onward he received numerous medals and honors for his paintings and watercolors of French and Italian scenes.
Harpignies's work always showed a strong affinity with the ideas espoused since the 1830s by the Barbizon school. Both in his palette and treatment of light Harpignies's style owed its greatest debt to the influence of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, whom he greatly admired.
In his later years Harpignies was clearly aware of theories given visual form by the impressionists, but he remained an essentially conservative painter who carried on the Barbizon tradition through the end of the nineteenth century.
— Photo of Harpignies
Landscape at Capri (21x32cm) Bords de l'Allier (1903, 70x101cm)
untitled landscape (1903, 13x18cm) Autumnal River Landscape (1905, 58x39cm)
Goats Grazing Beside A Lake At Sunset (1899, 124x150cm)
Midday In The Meadows (1886, 57x77cm) Boys By The Sea (22x36cm)
Environs De Menton, Le Royal (66x81cm) — Pont Neuf, Paris (21x33cm)
Died on 28 August 1727: Aart (Aert,
Arent) de Gelder, Dutch Baroque
era painter born on 26 October 1645. He studied under Rembrandt
Aert de Gelder was first trained by Samuel van Hoogstraten, and then by Rembrandt himself. Gelder was the last and most devoted student of Rembrandt. He studied in his studio in 1661-1667. The style of Rembrandt’s late works profoundly influenced him. Gelder worked mostly with the subjects from Old Testament, the favorite subjects of his master and friend. He liked, just as Rembrandt did, rich accessories, and his studio remind of the old curiosity shop: it was full of old weapons, antiques, bright fabrics. He used dummies in his work and dressed them up and designed the scene as the subject demanded. He painted with broad brushes, to put paint on canvas he used a brush handle and a palette-knife, to smooth the paint on canvas he used his fingers and scratched it with the brush handle.
Born in Dordrecht, he spent all his life there. Being a wealthy man, Gelder never sold his pictures, and during his life-time was not known outside his town. Looking at Gelder’s canvases, one can easily recognize Rembrandt’s influence, as well as appreciate Gelder’s individual response to the subject.
Dutch painter, active mainly in his native Dordrecht. After studying there with Hoogstraten, he became one of Rembrandt's last students in Amsterdam. He was not only one of the most talented of Rembrandt's students, but also one of his most devoted followers, for he was the only Dutch artist to continue working in his style into the 18th century. His religious paintings, in particular, with their imaginative boldness and preference for oriental types, are very much in the master's spirit, although de Gelder often used colors - such as lilac and lemon yellow - that were untypical of Rembrandt, and his palette was in general lighter. One of his best-known works, Jacob's Dream, was long attributed to Rembrandt.
Self-Portrait at an Easel Painting an Old Woman _ same Self-Portrait at... (1685) _ In this unusual self-portrait the artist portrays himself laughing as he sits at his easel painting a portrait of an unlovely old lady. Why is he laughing? Albert Blankert persuasively argued that he has depicted himself as the ancient Greek painter Zeuxis who laughed so hard while painting the portrait of a funny old crone that he choked and died. The tale of Zeuxis's demise is found in a Roman source dated about 200 AD and was repeated by both van Mander (1604) and Hoogstraten (1678). De Gelder's Frankfurt painting was conceivably done in emulation of Rembrandt's Self-Portrait at Cologne which shows the old master laughing. X-rays and technical investigation reveal that Rembrandt may also have portrayed himself as Zeuxis laughing as he painted a portrait of an ugly old woman.
Self-portrait (?) (79x64cm) _ The artist, a student of Rembrandt, is holding in his hands Rembrandt's etching, The 100 Guilder Print. It is generally accepted as his self-portrait and as his homage to his teacher, but even if we ignore the fact that this portrait does not show a cross-eyed man we are told that de Gelder bore his affliction with good humor the evidence for this identification is flimsy.
Ernestus van Beveren, Lord of West-Ijsselmonde and the Lindt (1685)
Hermannus Boerhaave with his wife (1724) Portrait of a Boy (1700, 57x47cm)
Christ on the Mount of Olives The Jewish Bride (Esther Bedecked) (1684)
Simeon's Song of Praise (1700) Ecce Homo (1671) Abraham and Angels
Esther and Mordochai (1685, 93x148cm) _ This painting depicts the scene of the Biblical story when Mordochai, foster-father of Esther presuades the Queen to induce her husband to save the Jewish people. The artist painted several pictures of the different scenes of Esther's story.
Born on 28 August 1833: Sir Edward
Coley baronet Burne~Jones, British Pre-Raphaelite
painter, illustrator, and designer who died on 17 June 1898. Husband of
Macdonald. Uncle of novelist Rudyard
Kipling. Brother-in-law of Edward
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones; professional name of Edward Coley Jones, was born in Birmingham and educated at the University of Oxford. Trained by the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Burne-Jones shared the Pre-Raphaelites' concern with restoring to art what they considered the purity of form, stylization, and high moral tone of medieval painting and design. His paintings, inspired by medieval, classical, and biblical themes, are noted for their sentimentality and dreamlike romanticized style; they are generally considered among the finest works of the Pre-Raphaelite school. They include King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid (1884). Burne-Jones was also prominent in the revival of medieval applied arts led by his Oxford friend the poet and artist William Morris. For Morris's firm he designed stained-glass windows, mosaics, and tapestries. His windows can be seen in many English churches, including Christ Church, Oxford, and Birmingham Cathedral. He also illustrated books of Morris's Kelmscott Press, notably Chaucer (1896). Burne-Jones was knighted in 1894.
Painter and designer. Christened Edward Coley Burne. Attended Exeter College, Oxford, intending to be ordained as a minister of the Church of England. There he became familiar with the pictorial work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and was so enthusiastic that he resolved to abandon his proposed career and devote himself to art. In 1885 he went to London and met Rossetti, on whose recommendation he left the university without his degree and, after a brief period of study in the artist's studio, began in 1856 the serious work of his life without any further instruction, but with the constant advice of his only master. His earliest works were mostly pen-and-ink or watercolor.
In 1859 Burne~Jones visited Italy and studied the works of Italian masters at Florence, Siena, Pisa, and elsewhere. The early works of Burne~Jones show heavy Pre~Raphaelite influence, yet the most conspicuous characteristic of his work is its individuality for though in his early years he was undoubtedly influenced by Rossetti, and in his later years he was often imitated, his work is profoundly personal.
The sources of his inspiration were many: medieval ballads and legends, classical myths, The Earthly Paradise by William Morris (1), the poems of Chaucer (2) and Spenser (3), the Bible, allegory, and pure imagination. Whatever the source, his subjects are infused with and transfigured by a powerful and somewhat melancholy charm which was his own, expressed with a refined and delicate feeling for beauty of form and color, and illustrated with a wealth of charming and significant detail.
Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham, the son of the owner of a small framing business. His mother died within a week of his birth. He was educated at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, and, since he was gifted at drawing, attended a government School of Design on three evenings a week since 1848. In 1853 he went to Exeter College, Oxford, with the intention of eventually entering the Church. There he met William Morris, who was to become his lifelong friend and an associate in a number of decorative projects.
As the result of seeing Rossetti’s works, Burne-Jones and Morris became late recruits to Pre-Raphaelitism. Early in 1856, Burne-Jones met Ruskin and Rossetti and managed to persuade the latter to accept him as a student; he and Morris left Oxford and started their artistic careers under Rossetti’s guidance. His earliest paintings are carried out in watercolor. Burne-Jones produced a number of versions of the ballad subject Fair Rosamond: Fair Rosamond and Queen Eleonor. This story was very popular with the Pre-Raphaelites and had already been used by Rossetti and Hughes.
Meanwhile the friends founded a decorating business, the company William Morris & Co. Burne-Jones was one of the directors and his prolific inspiration and rapidity of execution made him of crucial value for the firm. While his painting moved inevitably away from the influence of Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites, his decorative work remained a continuing contribution to the evolution of Pre-Raphaelite design. He made designs of tapestries and stained glass windows. A number of the decorative designs were turned into paintings, rather than vice versa. For example, King Mark and La Belle Iseult (1862) originated as a stained glass design and is in fact painted on top of a stained-glass carton.
the mid-1860s, Burne-Jones's paintings become larger and more monumental,
suggesting his interest in Botticelli,
Burne-Jones was an extremely hard worker and, in consequence, a very prolific
artist. His Pre-Raphaelite pieces form a relatively small part of his total
work. Some art historians consider Burne-Jones's Pre-Raphaelite phase an
attack of ‘Pre-Raphaelite measles’, identifying him rather as a romantic,
a symbolist and an aesthete. Nevertheless, the influence of Rossetti
was crucial to the development of Burne-Jones’s poetic imagination. His
early works, painted under the personal guidance of Rossetti from similar
medieval and literary sources, or resulting from Burne-Jones’s own fascination
with fifteenth century Florentine art are a valuable contribution to PreRaphaelitism.
And, of course, his paintings influenced the Aesthetic movement and Art
Nouveau design to a great extend. In 1890, Burne-Jones was elected to the
Royal Academy, but resigned just three years later.
Burne-Jones is the most important and the best painter of the second wave of Pre-Raphaelites. A poetic young man from Birmingham who, like Morris, was preparing for a career in the church, he never had any academic art training and consequently developed his own very distinctive approach, using medieval models as his template but invigorating them with a completely fresh and modern look.
Burne-Jones used as his subjects a wide range of legends, myths, and spiritual stories, using images and ideas gathered not just from the Christian viewpoint as previous artists had done. He was not much appreciated — for anti-Royal-Academy artists to show their work — before he received much critical notice.
Edward Burne-Jones traveled to Italy in 1859 with John Ruskin where he saw and greatly admired the early Italian Renaissance painters like Botticelli, da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and Mantegna from whose work he took a great deal of inspiration. He greatly admired Dante Gabriel Rossetti and was deeply in his thrall until around the early 1860s when he developed his own distinctive style.
Characteristic of the Pre-Raphaelites, Burne-Jones took a very long time to compose and paint his pictures; he would frequently leave them for a time and go to work on other paintings, thus working on two or three concurrently.
Burne-Jones was one of the first artists to break away from the conventional canvas size and presentation of paintings. He was fascinated with strongly linear composition which suited his somewhat flat technique (especially with draperies) and the challenges of presenting and exaggerating the subjects with the size and shapes of his canvases. Sometimes this meant using long and horizontal fields; other times, and more often, extremely tall and narrow as in King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid and The Golden Stairs. This highly mannered style of dreamy, literary romance exaggerates and encapsulates the subject and gives it an other-world intensity that would be lost on a bigger canvas. This also altered the perception of perspective: either particularly deep or very compressed. His figures are always graceful and often possess a languid quality much copied by later Victorian artists such as Lord Leighton and Alma-Tadema. Color was not so important to him as form; indeed his coloring is often somber and drawn from a very narrow palette. Furthermore his figures often possess an androgynous quality - many of the heroes of his pictures have distinctly feminine looks.
By around 1885 his work began to achieve high prices at auction and he became collected. His reputation continued to grow very slowly but inexorably, until he eventually became the hero of the Aesthetic Movement of the 1880s. Burne-Jones was invited to exhibit at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889 where his work was a great triumph with the public. Consequently he was awarded a first-class medal, something that really established him as an important artist and made him famous in Europe. Fame at home was reinforced by the exhibition of his Briar Rose series - based on the story of Sleeping Beauty - at Agnew's gallery in London in 1890.
Burne-Jones did other design work for Morris and Co. for whom he produced art glass window designs and tapestries. He had a special love of the medium and became an expert craftsman to such an extent that he lectured on the subject at the Working Men's College. As with the tapestries, figures were his specialty. He was made a baronet in 1894.
— Photo of Burne-Jones
— Love Among the Ruins (1894, 97x160cm) — The Rock of Doom (1885, 154x129cm)
— An Angel Playing a Flageolet (1878, 75x61cm) — The Godhead Fires (1878, 99x76cm)
— The Annunciation (1879, 250x105cm)
The Tree of Forgiveness - design for The Tree of Life mosaic in the American Church, Rome (1891, 41x20cm)
Group of Four Women (22x31cm) — The Golden Stairs (1880, 269x117cm)
— The Beguiling of Merlin (1874, 186x111cm) — Pan and Psyche (1874)
— Olive Maxse (sketch) — The Three Graces (1896, 139x70cm)
— The Briar Rose: study for The Garden Court (1889, 61x91cm)
— Pygmalion and the Image: I - The Heart Desires (1878, 99x76cm)
— Pygmalion and the Image: II - The Hand Refrains (1878, 99x76cm)
— Pygmalion and the Image: III - The Soul Attains (1878, 99x76cm) Hope in Prison (216x85cm)
— Clara von Bork (1860, 34x18cm) -- Sidonia von Bork (1860) _ These two paintings form a pair. Both were inspired by the novel Sidonia the Sorceress [translation, PDF] by Wilhelm Meinhold which was translated into English by Lady Jane Wilde (mother of Oscar) in the 19th century. It is a chronicle of a beautiful but incurably evil noblewoman who killed and destroyed the entire court of Pomerania. Sidonia was a favorite with the Pre-Raphaelites who were attracted by her beauty and the occult element. The novel was a favorite book of Rossetti's and William Morris issued a reprint of it under his Kelmscott Press imprint in 1893. Sidonia was put to death for witchcraft in 1620, at the age of 80. In Meinhold's novel, Clara is married to Marcus Bork and protects Sidonia when she gets into trouble as a result of her heinous crimes, only to be repaid with a hideous fate: Sidonia gives her a philter to induce the appearance of death, and she is entombed alive. In the first painting, wearing her 'citron' dress, Clara holds a clutch of fledgling doves to symbolize her innocence, while a black cat, Sidonia's familiar, looks up at them with predatory longing. In the second painting Sidonia is a proud beauty. The inscription 'Sidonia von Bork 1560' appears on the mount, thus indicating that Burne-Jones considered her to be aged 20 in the picture. She is shown plotting some new crime. A filigree net holds her hair, whose color diverts bees from their flowers; her gown is covered with an intricate, impossible web, indicative of her wiles. In the background are glimpsed her victims, while a symbolic spider sits on the scroll bearing the artist's signature.
Died on 28 August 1665: Elisabetta Sirani,
era painter, poisoned (according to her father). She was born on 08 January
She was the daughter of Giovanni Andrea Sirani [1610–1670], who had been the principal assistant of Guido Reni. Her talent was encouraged by the writer Malvasia, who later wrote an adulatory biography of her in his Felsina Pittrice (1678).
Her prolific talent, as well as her reputed beauty and modesty, soon brought her European renown. The details of her training are unclear, but as a woman she would not have had access to an academy and (like many other professional women painters prior to the 20th century) she was probably taught by her father. Her sisters Anna Maria [1645–1715] and Barbara (alive in 1678) were also practicing artists and Elisabetta herself is known to have had female students. As women, they could not undertake any formal study of the male nude, and Sirani’s weakness in depicting male anatomy is sometimes clearly detectable in her work (e.g. Saint Jerome in the Wilderness, 1650). Sirani’s drawings employ a highly individual pen-and-wash method, eschewing outline and employing quick, blunt strokes of barely dilute ink to create striking chiaroscuro effects (e.g. Cain Slaying Abel). Her painting style is less distinctive, her fierce chiaroscuro softened by the rich brown shadows favored by her generation of Bolognese painters.
She was active by 1655, and by 1662 she had recorded about ninety works, executing at least another eighty before she died at the age of 27. None of her portraits has survived but religious, mythological and allegorical subjects were painted in full view of a crowd of admirers. She was buried in Reni's tomb, and her style is close to his - idealized, affecting, sentimental, but with strong chiaroscuro and fine color. Her sisters Anna Maria (1645-1515), and Barbara (alive in 1678) were also painters. Barbara's portrait of Elisabetta is in Bologna.
Sirani painted a wide range of subjects-portraits, allegories, religious themes- and she painted them fast. She painted so fast that it was commonly believed that she had help painting them. In order to refute the charges dignitaries from all over Europe were invited to watch her paint a portrait in one sitting. She seems to have developed her speed because of pressure from her father to make money(he took all her earnings). Also important as a teacher, she set up a painting school for women.
In seventeenth-century Bologna, which boasted such well known women artists as Properzia de' Rossi and Lavinia Fontana, Elisabetta Sirani was considered a virtuoso. In Lives of Bolognese Painters, the biographer Carlo Cesare Malavasia praised Sirani for her merit "which in her was of supreme quality." Sirani's work reflects her familiarity with models from antiquity and a profound knowledge of the foremost sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italian painters from Rome, Florence, and Bologna.
Although Sirani learned to paint in the workshop of her father, Gian Andrea (1610-1670), it is said that he opposed his daughter pursuing a career. A professional painter and engraver by age seventeen, Sirani opened her own studio early in her career, supported chiefly by private commissions. She was so prodigious an artist that by the time of her death at 27, she had completed approximately 170 paintings, 14 etchings, and a number of drawings. Several stories recounted by Malavasia attest to Sirani's rapid working methods, such as when the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici visited her studio in 1664. After he watched her work on a portrait of his uncle Prince Leopold, Cosimo ordered a Madonna for himself, which Sirani allegedly executed quickly so that it could dry and be taken home with him.
A prodigy with a vast oeuvre, Sirani built her reputation on the strength of her painting, which reflects lessons learned from the work of the Bolognese painter Guido Reni. One of the most influential Bolognese artists in the first half of the seventeenth century, Guido Reni was a natural artistic authority for Sirani who emulated the lucid organization and lyrical quality of his work as well as some of his artistic inventions.
As an example, two paintings by Sirani are, Virgin and Child (1663) and Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy, and two etchings are Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and The Holy Family with St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist. Executed by Sirani two years before her death for Signor Paolo Poggi, Virgin and Child depicts a sweet and intimate moment when the child has turned to crown his mother playfully with a garland of roses. Sirani subtly differentiates the child's soft pink skin from his mother's olive coloring. The broad, fluid brush strokes used to delineate the mother's bodice and sleeves contrast with the refined patterns of her headdress and loose curls of coarse brown hair. Sirani has effectively used a limited palette of different tones of white, red, and blue to highlight the mother and child against the dark background.
Virgin and Child was featured on a Christmas stamp issued by the United States Postal Service in 1994. It was the first time that an historical work by a woman artist was depicted on a Christmas stamp. More than 1.1 billion were circulated.
Elisabetta Sirani was born in Bologna and was primarily a painter of religious and historical themes. Her father Giovanni Andrea Sirani was a painter and Elisabetta demonstrated early in her girlhood that she was gifted not only with artistic talents but those in music and poetry. By the age of seventeen she is reputed to have produced over a190 pieces of art. Sirani died at the age of twenty-seven under mysterious circumstances and a posthumous trial failed to reveal whether there were grounds for the accusation put forth by her father that she had been poisoned.
— Coriolano was a student of Elisabetta Sirani.
Self-Portrait (1660) Porcia Wounding Her Thigh Virgin and Child (1663, 86x70cm) The Holy Family with St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist (etching 30x22cm)
Beatrice Cenci (1662, 64x49cm) _ This painting was incorrectly thought to be by Reni. Identified as a portrait of Beatrice Cenci [06 February 1577 11 September 1599], it is famous for the tragic story of its subject, a young Roman noblewoman who was immortalized by Stendhal [Les Cenci, 1839, republished in posthumous Chroniques Italiennes, 1855], Dumas père [Les Cenci in Les Crimes Célèbres, 1839], P. B. Shelley (The Cenci, a tragedy in 5 acts, 1819), Alberto Moravia (Beatrice Cenci, 1958), Francesco D. Guerrazzi (novel Beatrice Cenci), Alberto Ginastera (opera Beatrix Cenci), and others. While the canvas is traditionally attributed to Reni, its poor quality in comparison to other works of the master has led many critics to reject it as an autograph work. Instead, it could be by a painter in the immediate circle of Reni, possibly Elisabetta Sirani, who is known for rendering the master's models in abbreviated and reduced form.
Beatrice Cenci [biografia], the daughter of the rich and powerful Francesco Cenci [1549-1598], suffered from her father's mistreatment. Violent and dissolute, he imprisoned Beatrice and her stepmother in the Castle of Petrella Salto, near Rieti. With the blessing of her stepmother and two brothers, all of whom shared her exasperation at his continued abuse, Beatrice murdered her father on 09 September 1598. She was apprehended and, after a trial that captured the imagination of all Rome, condemned to death at the order of Pope Clement VIII, who may have been motivated by the hope of confiscating the assets of the family. In the presence of an enormous crowd Beatrice was decapitated in the Ponte Sant'Angelo in September of 1599, instantly becoming a symbol of innocence oppressed. It has been hypothesized that Caravaggio was present at the decapitation and was thus inspired to paint his Judith beheading Holofernes (1598). The precise and realistic rendering of Caravaggio's scene, anatomically and physiologically correct to the minutest details, presupposes the artist's observation of a real decapitation.