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Pietro Paolo Raggi (1646 - 1724)

Lot 298: Pietro Paolo Raggi (circa 1646-1724)


January 28, 1999
New York, NY, US

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THE SACRIFICE OF IPHIGENIA oil on canvas 68N by 89in. 173 by 228cm. The subject is taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses (12: 25-28). Iphigenia, the daughter of the Mycenean king, Agamemnon (at the far right of the composition), was sacrificed to appease Diana and to ensure smooth sailing for the Greek expedition to Troy. Diana is shown here hovering above Iphigenia as she is about to be slayed and the goddess will soon substitute her with a stag. The male onlooker beside Agamemnon is based upon an antique bust of Vitellius. As testimony to the interest in the antique statuary that had survived in Italy, numerous casts and copies were commissioned (most famously by King Louis XIV). Artists also integrated these fragments into their paintings, as here, and these witty conceits would be noticed and appreciated by the cultured Elite. In 1665 Bernini repeatedly stressed the importance for young artists to study and copy these casts taken from "all the most beautiful statues, bas-reliefs and busts of antiquity" (see F. Haskell & N. Penny, Taste and the Antique, 1981, p. 37 ff.). This painting by Raggi is absolutely typical of Genoese art in the final quarter of the 17th Century. Raggi's style could be described as eclectic: he absorbed the lessons taught by his Genoese contemporaries as well as being open to the influence of painters in Rome (principally Pietro da Cortona). The brocaded red velvet drapery on which Iphigenia leans, is a direct quotation from Castiglione's naturalistic depiction of the same material; see the latter's painting of Circe of approximately twenty years earlier in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence (see Literature below, cat. no. 60). Mary Newcome Schleier (op. cit.,) notes a pentimento by the artist in the position of Iphigenia, which he altered directly on the canvas but which is not visible to the naked eye. She also notes that a painting of this subject is mentioned in the Lamellini colletion: "d'un' ottima idea, e d'un colorito assai spiritoso, e franco" (R. Soprani & C.G. Ratti, Vite de' pittori, scultori ed architetti, Genoa 1797, vol. II, p. 122). Exhibited: Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, Kunst in der Republik Genua 1528-1815, Sept. - Nov. 1992, cat. no. 97 Literature: M. Newcome Schleier, in Kunst in der Republik Genua 1528-1815, exhibition catalogue, Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, 1992, p. 182, cat. no. 97, illus. plate 97.

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Old Master Paintings

January 28, 1999, 12:00 AM EST

New York, NY, US

For Sale from Sotheby's