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Tempera painting - Tuccia (Chastity)

Tuccia (Chastity)

  • Object:

    Tempera painting

  • Place of origin:

    Siena (painted)

  • Date:

    mid 16th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Neroni, Bartolomeo (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tempera on panel

  • Museum number:

    425-1869

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

A woman in classical dress with left breast exposed stands in a wooded landscape at the bank of a river carrying a large round sieve full of water. Bartolommeo Neroni, (known as il Riccio) (1505/15?- 1571) was a Sienese painter, illuminator, architect, stage designer and engineer. His earliest works reveal the influence of Il Sodoma while his later paintings also demonstrate a close familiarity with works by Domenico Beccafumi and Baldassare Peruzzi who were also working in Siena at that time. Neroni most likely painted the two panels depicting standing women holding attributes (425-1869; 426-1869) in the V&A collection as part of a series of three donne illustre or famous women in the poetic tradition of Petrarch and Bocaccio. These panels probably formed part of a painted series of decorations for a room in a palace and may have originally formed the back of a cassapanca or bench chest such as those painted by Beccafumi ca. 1519 for Francesco Petrucci (National Gallery, London, Doria Pamphilj, Rome). 425-1869 depicts the ancient Roman maiden Tuccia, held up as an epitome of Chastity by the ancient authors Valerius Maximus, Petrarch and Pliny as, having been accused of incest, she successfully entreated the Roman goddess Vesta to help her demonstrate her innocence by allowing her to carry a sieve of water from the Tiber River to the temple of the goddess without spilling a drop.

Physical description

A woman in classical dress with left breast exposed stands in a wooded landscape at the bank of a river carrying a large round sieve full of water

Place of Origin

Siena (painted)

Date

mid 16th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Neroni, Bartolomeo (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Tempera on panel

Dimensions

Height: 74.3 cm estimate, Width: 45 cm estimate

Object history note

Purchased for £4 from the painter W. B. Spence in Florence, 1869

A note in the object file states that: 'The 2 ptgs. [425-1869; 426-1869] were removed with other ptgs. from the wall (West) of Rm. 108 (staircase) and stored temporarily in June 1917, when the Board of Education took over temporarily durint the rest of the war period, this portiono fht eMuseum for use as offices. F. W. Stokes'

Historical significance: Bartolommeo Neroni, (known as il Riccio) (1505/15?- 1571) was a Sienese painter, illuminator, architect, stage designer and engineer. His earliest surviving documented works, include illuminations for an Antiphonal, (signed, dated 1531–2, Genoa, Bib. Berio) and a fresco of The Departure of SS Maurus and Placid (1534) for the the convent of Monte Oliveto Maggiore reveal the influence of Il Sodoma. His later paintings also demonstrate a close familiarity with works by Domenico Beccafumi and Baldassare Peruzzi who were also working in Siena at that time. His figures have the sharp-nosed features favoured by Beccafumi, the soft limpid eyes painted by Sodoma and the bodies and monumental spatial composition of Peruzzi. Neroni's name is associated with several important buildings in Siena and from 1552-55 he was primarily occupied with building fortifications and making military models and drawings.
Neroni most likely painted the two panels depicting standing women holding attributes (425-1869; 426-1869) in the V&A collection as part of a series of three donne illustre or famous women in the poetic tradition of Petrarch and Bocaccio. These panels probably formed part of a painted series of decorations for a room in a palace and may have originally formed the back of a cassapanca or bench chest such as those painted by Beccafumi ca. 1519 for Francesco Petrucci (National Gallery, London, Doria Pamphilj, Rome). 425-1869 has long been described as a personification of Chastity but she may be more precisely identified as the ancient Roman maiden Tuccia, an exemplar of that virtue, and her pose suggests she orginally formed the right hand panel of the series. Tuccia is held up as an epitome of Chastity by the ancient authors Valerius Maximus, Petrarch and Pliny as, having been accused of incest, she successfully entreated the Roman goddess Vesta to help her demonstrate her innocence by allowing her to carry a sieve of water from the Tiber River to the temple of the goddess without spilling a drop. The identity of the central (missing) maiden remains unknown, although Sulpitia, praised by Bocaccio as the most highly chaste Roman matron, is a strong possibility. Like Tuccia, Sulpitia is among the illustrious women praised by Valerius Maximus and Pliny, and she appears together with Claudia Quinta (The Walters Art. Mus.; Baltimore; NG Washington respectively) in another series of virtuous women painted in the 1490s for a Sienese patrician palace.

Historical context note

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy, artists were often commissioned to create painted wooden furnishings for the domestic interior, especially for the camera (bedchamber) of wealthy private palaces. Such works were generally commissioned to celebrate a new marriage or the birth of a child and could include a lettiera (bed), spalliera or cornicioni (a painted frieze), a cassapanca (bench-chest) and a set of cassone (marriage chests) among other objects and furnishings. The decoration often included subjects associated with fertility, maternity, childbirth, marriage and fidelity and could include references to the patrons through inclusion of their coat of arms and heraldic colours, or of their personal motto or device.

Descriptive line

Tempera painting, 'Tuccia (Chastity)', Bartolomeo Neroni, mid 16th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 203-204, cat. no. 251.
Bernhard Berenson, Italian pictures of the renaissance Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1932, p. 65.
A. Venturi. Storia dell'arte italiana. 11. vols. (Milano : U. Hoepli, 1901-1940), vol. ix, pt 5, 1932, p, 450, figs. 253-54.
Maria Gibellino Krasceninnicowa, Il Beccafumi, con prefazione di A. Venturi. Siena, Istituto communale d'arte e di storia, 1933. p. 67 f., pls, xvi, xvii.
J. Pope-Hennessy, 'Beccafumi in the V. & A. Museum' in Burlington Magazine vol. 76, no. 445, (April, 1940), p. 115 f., pi. ii.
Donato Sanminiatelli, Beccafumi, Milano : Bramante, 1967, p. 171.

Production Note

Attributed to Domenico Beccafumi by Berenson, this painting and its companion piece (426-1869) were convincingly reattributed to Neroni by John Pope-Hennessy in 1940.

Materials

Tempera; Panel

Techniques

Painting

Subjects depicted

Chastity; River beds; Landscape

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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