Selected Inventory

Carlo Dolci

((Florence 1616 – 1687))

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Carlo Dolci

Allegory of Patience

Oil on canvas, 56,2 x 45,3 cm

The painting was in the family of Sir John Finch (1626-1682) until it was sold at Christie’s in 1947, together with two portraits by Dolci of Finch and of his constant companion, Sir Thomas Baines (1622-1681), both now in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Finch, evidently an ardent supporter of Dolci, owned at least two further paintings by the artist, now in the English Royal Collections: a Magdalene (dated 1670) and a superb Salomé with the head of the Baptist.
These two, together with the two portraits, were commissioned from the artist during Finch’s sojourn in Florence from 1665-1670 where he was Minister to the Grand Ducal court. The present painting, dated 1677, must either have been commissioned at the same period and completed later or was bought by Finch on his return to Florence (1680-1681) after serving as Ambassador in Constantinople (1672-1680).
At the time of the 1947 London sale, the subject of a young woman chained to a rock was incorrectly described as representing Andromeda. Gregori first pointed out that the subject is in fact an allegory of Patience; indeed the rock, and the expression of sorrow, both in the facial features and in the positioning of the chained hands, correspond precisely with the attributes of the subject as described in Ripa’s Iconologia.
Baldinucci records that Dolci painted a ‘Pazienza‘ for another avid collector of his work, Bartolomeo Corsini; the picture has not been found and it may be that Finch acquired the present painting from Corsini, though, as Baldassari points out, it is unlikely that this noted enthusiast of Dolci’s work would have relinquished such a prize.
The two paintings were given by Finch, respectively, to Catherine of Braganza and to Charles II. Baldassari suggests that the David with the head of Goliath, dated 1670, now in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, may also have been commissioned by Finch.
It would seem more probable that Dolci produced two paintings of the subject, one of which remains lost.
Baldassari argues that our painting should be numbered amongst Dolci’s most suggestive images, and that the air of plaintive melancholy with which the subject is imbued can be seen as an emblematic reflection of the artist’s own character, ever inclined to a state of religious suffering.

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