Historical Portrait of Beatrice Cenci, Italian Painting, Mid-18th Century Oil For Sale
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Historical Portrait of Beatrice Cenci, Italian Painting, Mid-18th Century Oil


Italian painter, mid-18th century Historical portrait of Beatrice Cenci Not signed Daughter of Count Francesco Cenci, a violent and dissolute man, and of Ersilia Santacroce, after her mother's death was given to seven years, in June 1584, together with her older sister Antonina, to the Franciscan nuns of the Monastery of Santa Croce in Montecitorio.When she returned to her family at the age of fifteen, she found a very difficult environment and was forced to endure the oppression and the pitfalls of her father who, shortly afterwards, in 1593, married, in second marriage, the widow Lucrezia Petroni, from whom he had no children. Exile in Petrella Francesco, overburdened by debts, imprisoned and tried for crimes even infamous, twice sentenced for "nefarious offenses" to the payment of substantial sums, so as not to pay the dowry of Beatrice, he wanted to prevent her from getting married, and decided in 1595 he segregated it, together with his stepmother Lucrezia, in Petrella Salto, in a small castle in Cicolano, called la Rocca, in the territory of the Kingdom of Naples, owned by the Colonna family. In that forced imprisonment Beatrice's resentment towards her father grew. The girl also tried, with the complicity of the servants, to send requests for help to family members and older brothers but to no avail. One of the letters arrived, indeed, in the hands of the count provoking the harsh reaction: Beatrice was brutally beaten. In 1597 Francesco, suffering from mange and gout, even to escape the urgent demands of creditors, retired to Petrella, bringing with him his younger sons Bernardo and Paolo, and the living conditions of the two women became even worse. The parricide It is said that, exasperated by the violence and paternal sexual abuse, Beatrice reached the decision to organize the murder of Francesco with the complicity of the stepmother Lucrezia, the brothers Giacomo and Bernardo, the castellan Olimpio Calvetti and the farrier Marzio da Fioran called the Catalan. Twice the attempt failed: the first time an attempt was made to suppress it with poison, the second with an ambush by local brigands. The third, stunned by the opium supplied by Giacomo and mixed with a drink, was assaulted in his sleep: Marzio broke his legs with a rolling pin, Olimpio finished him by hitting him on the skull and the throat with a nail and a hammer. In order to hide the crime, the conspirators tried to simulate an accidental death by fall: a hole was opened in the rotten axes of a balcony of the Rocca di Petrella, trying to insert the corpse into it. The thing failed: the hole was too small. They then decided to throw it from the balustrade. On 9 September 1598, Francesco's body was found in a vegetable garden at the foot of the Rocca. After the funeral the count was buried quickly in the local church of Santa Maria. The family members, who did not attend the funeral ceremonies, left the castle and returned to Rome to the family home, Palazzo Cenci, near the Ghetto. The investigations Initially no investigations were carried out but rumors and suspicions, fueled by the count's left fame and by the hatred he had aroused in his relatives, led the authorities to investigate the real course of events. After the first two investigations, the first wanted by the feudal lord of Petrella the duke Marzio Colonna, the second ordered by the viceroy of the Kingdom of Naples Don Enrico of Gusman, count of Olivares, the same Pope Clement VIII wanted to intervene in the affair. The body was exhumed and the wounds were carefully examined by a doctor and two surgeons who excluded the fall as a possible cause of the injuries. A laundress was also questioned: Beatrice had asked her to wash sheets soaked in blood, telling her that the stains were due to her menstruation but the justification, the woman declared, did not seem likely. The investigators were also suspicious of the absence of blood in the place where the body had been found. The conspirators were discovered and imprisoned. Calvetti, threatened with torments, revealed the plot. Able to flee, he was later killed by an acquaintance of the Cenci, Monsignor Mario Guerra, to prevent further testimony. Even Marzio da Fioran, subjected to torture, confessed but, compared with Beatrice, he retracted and died shortly afterwards from his injuries. Giacomo and Bernardo also confessed. Beatrice initially stubbornly denied any involvement indicating Olimpio as the only culprit, but the torture of the rope won every resistance and ended up admitting the crime. Having acquired the evidence, the two brothers Bernardo and Giacomo were imprisoned in the prison of Tordinona, Beatrice and Lucrezia in that of Corte Savella. The process The trial was entrusted to the judge Ulisse Moscato and had a great public following. In the trial two of the greatest lawyers of the time confronted each other: the alatrense Pompeo Molella for the prosecution and Prospero Farinacci for the defense. Farinacci, in an attempt to lighten the young woman's position, accused Francesco of raping his daughter. But Beatrice in her depositions never wanted to confirm the defender's statement. In the end Molella's accusations prevailed and the surviving defendants were all found guilty and sentenced to death. It should be noted that the trial was marred by some procedural defects, to the detriment of the Cenci, including that of preventing the defense lawyer from giving his final plea, admitting it in the courtroom only when the sentence was issued. Cardinals and defenders forwarded requests for clemency to the pontiff but Clement VIII, worried about the numerous and repeated episodes of violence in the territory of the State, wanted to give a severe warning and rejected them: Beatrice and Lucrezia were condemned to beheaded, Giacomo allo quartering. Only for Bernard the pontiff consented to the commutation of the penalty. Bernardo, the younger brother of only eighteen years, despite not having actively participated in the murder, had also been condemned for not having denounced the plot but, for his young age, he had saved his life: he was imposed the penalty of perpetual oars, that is to say rowing for life throughout the papal galleys, and was also obliged to attend the execution of the relatives tied to a chair. In addition, the news of the commutation of the sentence was deliberately hidden and communicated only a few hours before the escaped execution. Only a few years later, after paying a large sum of money, he regained his freedom. The execution The execution of Beatrice, her stepmother and her elder brother took place on the morning of 11 September 1599 in the square of Castel Sant'Angelo crowded with people. Among those present also Caravaggio together with the painter Orazio Gentileschi and his daughter, also a future painter, Artemisia. The very sultry day caused the death of some spectators due to insolation (which also proved fatal to the young Roman Ubaldino Ubaldini, famous for his great beauty, as Stendhal recalls in his Italian Chronicles); others were killed in the crowd and someone instead slipped into the Tiber dying and drowned. The beheading of the two women was carried out with the sword. The first to be killed was Lucrezia, then Beatrice followed and finally Giacomo, who was tortured on the way with red-hot pincers, mazzolato and finally quartered. Some details related to the crucial moments of the execution are contained in the "Romance Memoirs of Giambattista Bugatti" called Mastro Titta, executioner of the Papal States from 1796 to 1864. In the text reference is made to an unspecified Report of the torture of the Cenci, from which it would emerge that, with reference to Lucrezia Petroni, "Not knowing how he should settle down, he asked Alessandro the first executioner what he had to do, and telling her he rode the plank of the log and lay over it, in what to do for the size of the body, but more shameful it lasted very great effort, but it was much greater to settle down with the neck under the cleaver, because his chest was so prominent that he could not get to place his throat on that stick in which the iron of the ax falls, because , since the tablet was not wider than a palm, it was not capable of supporting the udders ". With reference to the last moments of Beatrice's life, another nineteenth-century text, in conformity with what appears from the source cited above (probably drawing on the report contained in the Report), reports the episodes following the execution of Lucrezia Petroni, inserted in the ritual that accompanies Beatrice Cenci towards the execution stage. It should be noted that there were various attempts to alter the course of events by riots and fights, a sign of a profound popular disapproval of the death sentence ratified by Pope Clement VIII. Pope Clement VIII "Meanwhile other soldiers were on the side of Castel S. Angiolo, and the armed force around the gallows increased, the course of justice continued, when the tumult of the crowd was calmed a little. Beatrice kneeling in the chapel was so absorbed in her prayer that she paid no attention to the noise and the screams; he only recovered when the banner entered the chapel to precede it to the torture. He got up, and with the liveliness of a surprise he asked: "Is my lady mother really dead?" - she was answered affirmatively, and she threw herself at the feet of the Crucifix and prayed fervently for her soul. Then he spoke aloud and long with the Crucifix saying things too unconnected, and ended by exclaiming: - Lord you call me and I willingly follow you, because I know I deserve your mercy. He went to his brother, kissed him on the forehead, and with a smile of love said to him: "Do not be sad for me, we will be happy in heaven, for I have forgiven you." Giacomo fainted. His sister, turning to the thugs: "let's go," he said, and frankly advancing to the door, but the executioner came forward with a rope, and he seemed to be afraid of wrapping that body with it. [...] As soon as the banner came out of the chapel, and that the petty woman accompanied by two Capuchins arrived at the foot of the stage, an immediate silence made desert believe that place for the time being so noisy. Everyone wanted to hear if he was articulating a few words, and with his eyes turned to her, and with open mouths it seemed that their existence hung from her lips. Beatrice at the foot of the stage, kissed the Crucifix, was blessed by the friar; and having left the tiles, having climbed the ladder deftly, arrived very slowly at the fatal stock, no one noticed the prompt move which caused him to climb over the bench which had caused so much disgust to the Petroni; he perfectly positioned himself by inhibiting with a proud look to the executioner to touch her to remove the veil from her neck, which she threw herself on the plank floor. In a loud voice he invoked Jesus and Mary, awaiting the fatal blow, but he spent a few moments in this horrible situation, because the intimidated executioner found himself clumsy in vibrating the cleaver. A universal scream cursed him, but meanwhile the virgin's head was shown detached from the bust, and the body agitated violently. The poor Bernardo Cenci forced to be a witness of the torture of his sister fell unconscious, and for half an hour could not be recalled to the senses. Beatrice's head was drawn into a veil like that of the stepmother, and placed on the side of the stage; the body in lowering it Confiscation of assets After the execution, the properties of the Cenci family were confiscated by the Apostolic Chamber and sold at auction for 91 000 scudi, a figure absolutely lower than their real value. Most of the assets, including the large Torrenova estate, seven thousand hectares and a castle in the Agro Romano, were bought by Gian Francesco Aldobrandini, the Pope's nephew. The proceeding triggered a long series of lawsuits promoted by the survivors of the family with partial restitution of assets. In addition, the confiscation rendered the testamentary dispositions of Beatrice ineffective, who had decided to make substantial legacies in favor of various religious institutions. The profanation of the tomb Vincenzo Camuccini, witness of profanation In 1798, during the First Roman Republic, the French soldiers, who had occupied the city under the command of General Berthier, indulged in raids and requisitions: even the tombs were violated to take possession of the lead of the boxes. According to the testimony of the painter Vincenzo Camuccini, [13] who witnessed the episode while working on the restoration of Raphael's Transfiguration, some soldiers, led by their fellow countryman, entered the church of San Pietro in Montorio, began to break the slabs of the sepulchers placed on the floor. One of them opened Beatrice's case and took possession of the silver tray on which the young woman's head had been placed. The sculptor, having taken the skull, regardless of Camuccini's protests, walked away throwing it in the air for fun. The legend of Beatrice The memory in the Art Statue of Beatrice Cenci by Harriet Goodhue Hosmer, 1857 Representation of Beatrice Cenci in a photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron The events of the Cenci family, and of Beatrice in particular, could not fail to arouse interest, feelings of sincere participation and emotion, but also morbid curiosity, both among the popular strata and among the artists. The ingredients were all there: the beauty and youth of Beatrice, the gloomy family environment, the murky passions of her father, incest, revenge of the brothers, expiation and the final torture. For these reasons, the artists of the figurative arts as well as of the literary ones, particularly in the Romantic era, found numerous elements of inspiration for their works [14]. An alleged portrait of Beatrice, attributed to Guido Reni or his students [16], perhaps Elisabetta Sirani, is preserved in the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Palazzo Barberini, in Rome. The measurement shown is of the painting without frame. The painting has no frame Italian Fine Arts Authority must check this item in order to allow its exportation. This process lasts about 60 days.


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    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Dimensions
    H 25.6 in. x W 20.08 in. x D 0.79 in.H 65 cm x W 51 cm x D 2 cm
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    Rome, IT
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