Continental European after 1800, Continental European before 1800, Dress and Textiles 15 Who painted Judith with the Head of Holofernes?

Topic: Artist

Previous attributions have included Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

David Saywell, Art Detective Officer, Entry reviewed by Art UK


Jacinto Regalado,

This is certainly not the type of picture associated with Vigée Le Brun, who was a portrait painter. Also, I am not convinced this is 18th century, pace the NICE Paintings entry.

Nicholas De Gaetano,

To me this is by Giovanni Ricca. His corpus of paintings is still being compiled, and he is often confused with Francesco Guarino - so if this painting can be attributed to Ricca, I think it will need to remain tentatively attributed for the time being.... But it's certainly not connected to Vigee Le Brun.

Please contact Giuseppe Porzio/Riccardo Lattuada/Viviana Farina/Nicola Spinosa to confirm the attribution. They are spearheading the compilation of this artist's works.

Jacinto Regalado,

The lighting looks influenced by Caravaggio, and 17th century seems rather more likely than 18th. Both Ricca and Guarino were 17th century painters active in the Naples area. A connection to Vigée Le Brun is quite implausible at best.

Tamsyn Taylor,

I would support an attribution to Giovanni Ricca.

Mark Wilson,

The strong colours and tenebrism of this painting certainly make it look like a Neapolitan picture of the first half of the 17th century. But I wonder if rather than looking at Giovanni Ricci, we might be better picking Francesco Guarino. The latter's painting seems to be more soft-focused that Ricci's whose line is sharper and clearer, and Guarino also seems prone to more dramatic gesture.

Jacinto Regalado,

Mark, are you referring to Giovanni Ricci (1537-1627) or Giovanni Ricca (1603-1656)?

Mark Wilson,

Ooops! Thanks for picking that up Jacinto - that's what happens when you post at half two in the morning. I meant Giovanni Ricca of course.

I was impressed by the similarity of the model here to the examples in Ricca's work you gave above, but of course painters working in the same city at the same time might well use the same people to pose for them. This seems to have a more graceful, 'soft-focus' feel to it, more characteristic of Guarino. (Maybe it's that sort of feeling in the picture that made people think of Vigée Le Brun).

If as Nicholas said above, the corpuses of the two are often mixed (and I've seen the same painting attributed to both) then I may be looking at the wrong paintings anyway. And there are lots of other painters working in Naples in a similar manner at that time as well (at least till the plague of 1656 kills most of them).

Jacinto Regalado,

Yes, at this point, only an expert would be able to say with authority whether Ricca or Guarino is a better fit, and no doubt a Ricca expert is quite familiar with that type of question.

Jacinto Regalado,

The Sellaer Judith is a Mannerist work, while ours is Baroque.

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