Lot and His Daughters
Giovan Francesco Guerrieri (1589, Fossombrone (Pesaro-Urbino)-1659, Pesaro)
Oil on canvas
h: 142 cm; w: 164.5 cm
Marcantonio Borghese Collection
The subject of the painting is covered in the Old Testament (Genesis, 19, 30–38), telling the story of Lot fleeing the destruction of the town of Sodom with his family. Alone in a cave with his two daughters, they give Lot wine for two successive nights and in his drunkenness he does not realise that he lies first with one and then the other, thus guaranteeing the continuation of his line.
The canvas is part of a series of works used as supraporte (“over-door”) in the Borghese's city residence in Campo Marzio. The painting, executed by Guerrieri between 1617 and 1618, was commissioned by Marcantonio, a relative of Cardinal Scipione.
The work was long thought to be by Gerrit van Hontorst, and highlights the importance of northern painting for Guerrieri, although he was also strongly influenced by Caravaggesque light. The oil lamp, which appears in the bottom left-hand corner, brightening the nocturnal ambience of the episode and illuminating the faces of the three protagonists, highlights the headdresses and jewels of the two maidens. Again the contrast between light and dark reveals the evident movement of the hands of the three figures, demonstrating that the artist was open to innovation, anticipating by a short time the great period of candlelight art. This latter is linked to the artistic trend deriving from the luminism of Caravaggio and Bassano, whose paintings were already in Cardinal Scipione's collection at that time. The handle of the valuable jug used by the maiden to pour the wine is engraved with a dragon, which along with the eagle, are the heraldic beasts of the Borghese.
The humble yet monumental language of Caravaggio influenced Guerrieri. The elegance of the young woman’s clothes contrasts with Loth’s sober, brown mantle. The painter also took an interest in how his contemporaries in Rome used light. The canvas was probably commissioned by Marcantonio Borghese.
The Borghese Collection was acquired by the Italian State in 1902.
Della Pergola, P., Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Rome, 1959, n.134, pp. 94–95.
Emiliani, A., Giovan Francesco Guerrieri da Fossombrone, Cittadella, 1992, n.22, pp. 33–34.
Fumagalli, E., in Giovan Francesco Guerrieri. Un pittore del Seicento fra Roma e le Marche, exhibition catalogue, Verona, 1997, n.9, pp. 92–9.
Barchiesi, S., in Riflessi Divini. La cultura del vino, exhibition catalogue, Rome, 2005, n.38, pp. 132–133.
Copyright image: Archivio fotografico Soprintendenza Speciale PSAE e Polo Museale della Città di Roma.
Sofia Barchiesi "Lot and His Daughters" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=object;BAR;it;Mus11;17;en
Prepared by: Sofia BarchiesiSofia Barchiesi
TITLE: Author and Researcher
Sofia Barchiesi, a graduate and specialist in Art History and recipient of a scholarship from the School of Mediaeval and Modern Art History at Lumsa University, has been working with the Superintendency for Historical Artistic Heritage and the Museums of Rome since the late 1980s. She was responsible for cataloguing the art of the region and museums of Rome, studying the period of the Counter-Reformation particularly closely. She works with journals and writes essays, alternating her research and teaching work.
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: IT1 21