Logo: Silhouette of William Hunter

Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery William Hunter Collections:
GLAHA 43788

This information is © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2017

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GLAHM 43788: 'The Virgin Sewing' - click to view larger image

"The Virgin Sewing"

oil painting

AFTER RENI, Guido; (Italian; 1575-1642) ATTR GESSI, Francesco; (Italian; 1588-1649) ATTR CANTARINI, Simone; (Italian; 1612-1648)

oil on canvas (transferred from panel)
27.5 x 21.0
46.1 x 39.0
22: Studio Variant 1 PEPPER, Stephen 1984 Guido Reni, A Complete Catalogue of his Works, Phaidon, Oxford 1984
When the founder Dr Hunter bought this work in 1771, it was catalogued as by da Pesaro (Simone Cantarini 1612-1648). In fact it is a version of an early work by Guido Reni. Eighteenth-century knowledge was sometimes sufficient to establish the 'school' from which the work came, but not the precise identity of the painter. It is not known if Strange acquired this work in Italy or in France. Certainly the French court and nobility avidly bought works by Reni. In the middle of the eighteenth century Reni's first painting of this subject on copper, dating from 1606, was in the French Royal Collection. Strange managed to compare this painting - which was then still on a panel - with the version on copper that was described in Malvasia's Felsina Pittrice (1678). In that painting the Virgin has a red dress, and is accompanied by only three angels. Concluding that his painting was of lesser quality, Strange mistakenly assigned it to Cantarini, Reni's pupil. This painting corresponds in its details of a white dress and four accompanying angels to Reni's second version of the Virgin Sewing also painted on copper, which passed from Mazarin's to the French Royal Collection (engraved by Vallet, Le Blanc 42) and was known as La couseuse. J-F. Félibien, the 'French Vasari', knew and was enchanted by both versions. He described the differences in his Entretiens,1685, Vol. II p.283: 'Je me représente toujours ces deux petits tableaux où il a peint la Vierge qui coud, dont l'une qui est au Palais Mazarin est vestue de blanc, & l'autre que M. le Marquis de Fontenay apporta de Rome, est vestue de rouge.' The high quality of the present painting, and the type of pigments used suggest that it is a contemporary studio replica of La couseuse. Bequeathed by Dr William Hunter, 1783

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For more information please contact Malcolm.Chapman@glasgow.ac.uk