97 x 79 cm
Oil on canvas
1654


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Artwork profile

Dying Sophonisba

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino

The Expertise


The work depicts a “Sophonisba with a bowl of poison” and it is the only painting listed in the Account Book of the Master with such subject matter, rather rare. It appears to have been paid for on the 3rd of October 1654 together with a St. Sebastian (120 ducatoni for two “half figures”) by a Venetian donor Giovanni Donato Correggio, who paid the Master for other paintings between the years 1653 and 1657. Although the measures of the canvas generally employed by Guercino for half figures at life size (which in fact at this time cost 60 ducatoni) were ca. 120 x 100 cm, it seems to me very clear that this canvas has been cut along its lower right end, and that originally it might well have been ca. 15 cm larger. Thus we can assume that the picture here examined can be identified with the half figure of “Sophonisba” painted by Guercino in 1654, also considering the fact that both style and quality precisely suit what we might expect from a work of such date (29th July 1996, Sir Denis Mahon)