Continental European after 1800, Continental European before 1800 34 Who painted this image of the goddess Flora?

Topic: Subject or sitter

This is the goddess, Flora. The composition dates from the first half of the seventeenth century, and it may well be an original, not a copy. If it is from the nineteenth century it is a good copy. It looks like a Florentine painting by an identifiable artist, but which?

For a Flora with an elaborate floral arrangement on her head see, for instance, Rembrandt's 1634 painting in the Hermitage and Claude Vignon's 1650 painting in the Residenz Galerie, Salzburg.

There is currently no information in the collection’s records pertaining to the artist responsible for this picture. Further thoughts would be appreciated.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK


Al Brown,

I have a note from a while back that it resembles works by Dandini, The facial type certainly seems to be like his,

Martin Hopkinson,

For Cesare Dandini [1596-1657] , a Florentine, who seems a good candidate, see Sandro Bellesi's two books of 1996 and 2007 . A series of paintings of allegories , especially an Allegory of Intelligence are comparable in style.

Martin Hopkinson,

Auckland Art Gallery's exhibition 'The Corsini collection. A window on Renaissance Florence' apparently included a painting by Dandini of Flora. Unfortunately no copy of the paperback catalogue seems to have reached a major British library - but may be Alastair Laing has seen it? Or perhaps an image can be found in the Witt Library in the Courtauld Institute of Art?

Martin Hopkinson,

Joseph Strutt of Derby [1765- 1844], the first Mayor of that town, was known for his collection of Old Masters and helped to build The Athenaeum, a building to house an art gallery and museum.

Jacinto Regalado,

Of course, this is not the right sort of subject for Dolci, being neither a religious picture nor a portrait (though it could be a portrait of an actual lady as Flora, as is the case with the Dandini Flora).

Having reviewed these suggestions, I think Cesare Dandini is probably the most likely attribution. His work does not show the same highly crafted technique as Carlo Dolci and subject is typical of his work.

Jacinto Regalado,

The consideration of either Dandini or Dolci is based on the premise that this is a 17th century Florentine painting, which it may be, but how certain is that? Does the museum have any information as to provenance or history?

Martin Hopkinson,

The Bellesi publications do not seem to include every painting by Dandini - but he certainly had a penchant for wreaths of flowers on women's heads. The Allegory of Intelligence most comparable does not seem to have been known to Bellesi -it is on a Russian site as well as

Edward Stone,

The collection has been contacted about the suggested attribution to Cesare Dandini (1596–1657).

Jacinto Regalado,

Benezit describes Pietro Dandini as "the most talented and the most travelled of the Dandini family."

Jacinto Regalado,

Well, Marinari was a pupil (and cousin) of Carlo Dolci, which would explain the Dolci air in this painting.

Jacinto Regalado,

I regret that I don't know how to make side-by-side composites of two images, but perhaps someone who knows can do that to better illustrate the comparisons I've suggested above.

Osmund Bullock,

Here you go, Jacinto. I've used what is perhaps a slightly better image of the El Paso 'Berenice' from their website ( ). It's a pretty small size, though, so although I've jigged things around technically to fit them all together, she loses definition much more quickly than the other two if you zoom in.

Also attached is a comparison of face details between the other two (which are higher-res), and the similarity is remarkable. However I must point out that the Italian auction work is catalogued only as "ambito di" Bernardo Strozzi, i.e. 'circle of...'.

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Jacinto Regalado,

One would of course like for this to be a Strozzi, but I suppose the Florentine Cesare Dandini is still a possibility, given his marked propensity for "Flora" types. However, Dandini's faces tend to be more "mannered" or less "wholesome," so to speak.

Osmund Bullock,

Here's the face detail composite with that of the full-sized St Cecilia (Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City) added at the right (though a bit blurry).

Funnily enough the 'circle of...' St Cecilia study(?) has now resurfaced at a very reputable New York dealer as by Strozzi himself, with no qualification: . For a moment I thought they'd cut it down, but in fact it's the same size - they've just cropped the web image to make it more appealing.

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Osmund Bullock,

Apart from the disagreement as to artist, there is an interesting tangent perhaps worth mentioning here. The 'circle of...' painting, estimate at €3 - 3.5K, was unsold at the Genoa auction house Cambi in Oct 2012. The following year it was offered again with the same estimate, and in presumably a post-sale deal went for just €2.2K. Historically the nightmare process of trying to export *any* work of art from Italy would have precluded an American dealer from biting at even that price - unless they were very sure indeed it was a high-value 'sleeper'. Well, perhaps they were...but in fact things have finally (late 2017) changed in Italy for old master works valued at less than €13.5K, which no longer require an export licence. I wonder if canny overseas dealers didn't get wind of this coming a few years back, and bought and stored some lower-value works in anticipation - Bendor picked up on the possibility in 2015 (but still decided not to risk it!):

Jacinto Regalado,

I assume that a signature has been looked for and not found and that nothing is known of provenance except the name of the man who bequeathed the picture in 1909. Why is it listed as 19th century when that is not established?

Lily Getino,

Could it be Carlo Cignani? I see enormous similarities between Flora and Jesus enfant de Cignani.

Davide Valentini,

I'm not a scholar, just an enthusiast (God saves us from them!). But it seems to me that Pier Dandini is an extremely convincing option. Both paintings by him posted above, by Federico Berti and Jacinto Regalado, show characteristics which I also see in this painting. In particular I very similar (I would say peculiar) lines in nose, eyebrows, eyebrows arch, eyelids and mouth.
Since it was not done yet, I attach here a composition with the picture posted by Berti.

(NOTE!: that picture was taken slightly sideways. Also the light was not good and it looked greyish, so I simply increased the contrast a bit.)

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