A Proposed Attribution for the Saint Cecilia in Dulwich


We published an anonymous painting held at the Dulwich Picture Gallery (here, asking our readers for their ideas on identification. We received a very convincing proposal from the Italian art historian, Alessandro Morandotti who graciously accepted to present it in a short article. We would like to extend our thanks to him.

From what we can see in the photograph published by The Art Tribune, the Saint Cecilia in Dulwich (ill. 1 ; see news item of 3/1/12) proves its Ferrara origins rather than Bologna. The painting should be studied in connection with the production of Carlo Bononi (1569-1632), an artist frequently in contact with the Carracci (particularly with Ludovico, as proven here by Saint Cecilia’s head). I believe that the figure of the angel reclining on the cloud is practically the painter’s signature and the foreshortened head of Saint Cecilia compares well to the detail of Christ’s head in the only painting by Bononi found in old documents in France, that is Christ Adored by the Angels, Saint Sebastian and Saint Bernardino (ill. 2) held at the Louvre.


1. Here attributed to Carlo Bononi (
Saint Cecilia
Oil on Canvas - 173.5 x 126.7 cm
Dulwich, Picture Gallery
Photo : Dulwich Picture Gallery

2. Carlo Bononi (1569-1632)
Christ Adored by the Angels, Saint Sebastian and Saint Bernardino
Oil on Canvas - 248 x 178 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : RMNGP


While maintaining the dialogue with Scarsellino, a constant reference point during his training, here Bononi reveals his own personal style, charming us with the brilliant quality of the draperies enveloping the saint : in pearl grays (worthy of Saraceni), yellows and bright greens.
A date close to 1620/1625 would be appropriate for this canvas, a period not too far from the artist’s presence in Reggio Emilia, where he worked at the Basilica della Ghiara (1622) and the church of San Pietro e Prospero (1622-1623).

Original text in Italian :

Per quello che fa vedere la fotografia pubblicata sulla Tribune de l’Art, la Santa Cecilia di Dulwich (ill. 1) documenta la sua origine ferrarese piuttosto che bolognese. Il quadro va infatti studiato in relazione alla produzione di Carlo Bonone (1569-1632), un pittore speso in dialogo con i Carracci (e in particolare con Ludovico, come ci ricorda qui la testa della Santa Cecilia). Mi pare che la figura dell’angelo sdraiato sulle nubi sia quasi una firma per il pittore e che la testa in scorcio della Santa Cecilia si confronti bene con il dettaglio della testa di Cristo nell’unico quadro di Bononi anticamente attestato in Francia, vale a dire il Cristo adorato dagli angeli, San Sebastiano e San Bernardino (ill. 2) conservato al Louvre.

Pur tenendo vivo il dialogo con Scarsellino, punto di riferimento costante per la sua formazione, Bononi tradisce qui la propria personale cifra stilistica, incantandoci con le lustre finitezze dei panneggi che avvolgono la santa : tra i grigi perla (degni di Saraceni), i gialli e i verdi squillanti.
Per il dipinto conviene forse una data prossima al 1620/1625, in anni non lontani dagli impegni a Reggio Emilia, tra la Basilica della Ghiara (1622) e la chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Prospero (1622-1623).

Version française


Alessandro Morandotti, samedi 7 janvier 2012



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