GIOVANNI ANTONIO BURRINI
Dated: 1690 circa
oil on canvas, cm 121×94
The canvas depicts the portrait of a woman, seated and holding a scepter, a silver vase and a small jug of silver or gilded bronze. On the table, in the very foreground, rests the crown, while another more ornate crown holds her elegant hairstyle.
The study presented by Federico Giannini on this painting has allowed the identification of the subject as the Greek heroine Artemisia of Halicarnassus, caught in the moment of raising the jug containing the ashes of her husband Mausolus. The painting, of truly extraordinary quality, is a typical example of the Bolognese painter’s work, with its use of strong and contrasting lights further made vibrant, in this case, by flickers of light and the remarkable pictorialism. The face of the woman also returns very often in Burrini’s works, as can be seen in ‘Susan and the Elders’ in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna, and in the tondo with the ‘Portrait of a young girl with jewels’ in a private collection and reproduced in Marco Riccomini’s monograph. It is possible to identify this canvas with the one in the house of the Bolognese merchant Predieri, as reported by Marcello Oretti in 1767, but erroneously identified with a Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The confusion might have been generated by the presence of the crown that is also an iconographic attribute of that martyr. The liquid technique of painting and the no longer classicist style of the figures suggest a dating around the last decade of the seventeenth century.