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Orazio Fidani (Italy ca. 1606‑1656)

Allegory of Fidelity: A woman at half length caressing her dog

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale Week 13 – 16 June 2023

Lot 564 Orazio Fidani (Italy ca. 1606‑1656). Allegory of Fidelity: A woman at half length caressing her dog. Oil on relined canvas, 65.5 x 52 cm.

The authorship of this hitherto unknown painting, which recently surfaced from a private collection in Sweden, has kindly been confirmed by Dr Sandro Bellesi on the basis of a high resolution digital photo.
With inscription on the reverse: ”N 411”.
We would like to thank Dr Sandro Bellesi for his kind help in cataloguing this lot.


150.000 – 200.000 SEK
€ 13.000 – 18.000

In context

The present lot is a beautiful example of Tuscan painting from circa 1650, which strikes by its sensual subject as much as its rendition of light and the use of strong red and blue. Two other versions of the composition are recorded: the first, of which the present whereabouts is unknown, appeared at a sale at Casa d’Aste Pitti in Florence in 1983 and, as pointed out by Marina Mojana, Orazio Fidani, 1996, p. 92, cat. no. 29, with illustration was subsequently published by Clarice Innocenti in Paradigma, 1985; the second version is now in a private collection, Florence, after it appeared at a sale in Austria, as French 17th century, where it was recognised as a work by Fidani by F. Baldassari (Mojana, op.cit., under cat. no. 29). As pointed out by Mojana, all three versions differ from each other in some details. The present painting differs from the painting now in Florence in the use of red ribbons in the woman’s hair whereas she wears flowers in the latter.

While Innocenti proposed a date of circa 1650 for the present composition, placing it within the group of paintings of allegories of figures at half lengths, such as the Allegory of Painting and that of Music signed and dated 1649, both in private collections (Mojana, op.cit., cat. nos. 27 and 28, with ills.). Mojana prefers a slightly later date on the basis of stylistic similarities with the painting of Amarillus and Mirtillo, signed and dated 1654, oil on canvas, 232 x 348 cm, also now in a private collection (Mojana, op. cit., p. 88. cat. no. 27, with ill.). Indeed striking in both paintings is the use of strong red and blue contrasting with the flesh tones and also the handling of light.

A woman holding a dog on her lap as Allegory of Fidelity finds its source in the story of the faithful dog of Titus Labienus who did not want to leave his master as told in Plinius the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8:40 and repeated in Cesare Ripa. The half-naked woman holding a dog is perhaps here specifically to be interpreted as marital fidelity, as the half nakedness of the figure alludes to those of Madonna Lactans.

The nowadays little-known artist Fidani counts among the leading painters in Tuscany of his day, painting both religious and profane subjects. Born in Florence in 1606, Fidani received his training in the workshop of Giovanni Biliverti (1585‑1644), whose style he adopted and emulated. In 1629 Fidani became member of the prestigious Academia del Disegno in his hometown. As one of the protagonists of Florentine naturalism, his paintings adhere to the tradition of the soft and sensual style of Sigismondo Coccapani (1585‑1643), Cesare Dandini (1596‑1657), Francesco Furini (1603‑1646) and Carlo Dolci (1616‑1686), with underlying influences from the Caravaggisti. 

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Sofie Bexhed


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Amanda Rass


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