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Italian School, North Italian (c. 1530)

Diligence c.1530

Oil on canvas | 181.7 x 138.2 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 402941

King's Gallery, Kensington Palace

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  • Diligence and Fame (RCIN 402942) were given to Charles I in 1635 by Cardinal Francesco Barberini as diplomatic gifts. They were specifically chosen as "antichi" ("old") pictures, to cater to the tastes of the English King. After being attributed to Giulio Romano, Parmigianino and Frans Floris, in 2012, Alessandra Pattanaro convincingly linked the pictures to Camillo Filippi, a Ferrarese painter who worked in the studio of the brothers Dosso and Battista Dossi. Known for his richly-coloured, graceful paintings, Filippi was considered a successful painter in his own time. From the early 1550s he worked in collaboration with his two sons, Bastianino and Cesare.

    Pattanaro revised the attribution and dating of the works based on a comparison with Camillo Filippi's Allegory of Patience (Galleria Estense, Modena). Made after Giorgio Vasari's Allegory of Patience for Bernardetto Minerbetti, the work was commissioned in 1554 by Ercole II, Duke of Ferrara, for the Patience Suite at the Castello Estense. Although there are some differences in the handling of paint, in which Patience reveals a more Venetian approach to colouring (possibly because of assistance from his son, Bastianino), it is likely that due to their thematic links, Fame and Diligence were painted as part of the same decorative scheme. Diligence also demonstrates characteristics that can be related to other paintings by Filippi. The three quarter view of the face, with elongated and close-set eyes correspond closely to Allegory of Peace, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden and the Baptism of Christ, Pinacoteca dei Concordi.

    The virtue of 'Diligence' is here embodied by a full-length female figure, facing slightly to the right. She wears a long olive-brown dress with a billowing wine red robe over her left shoulder, leaving her right breast exposed. With her left hand, Diligence lifts a crown of myrtle, resting her right hand on a closed book, surrounded by objects that refer to the arts (sculpture, a palette, musical instruments), to literature (an inkwell, books) and war (a helmet). These references to the arts refer to the virtue of diligence of those who practice them. Industriousness is also a feature of diligence, represented by the hourglass on the table.

    Fame and Diligence were sold at the Commonwealth Sale, but were later recovered at the Restoration. They were then taken to France by Henrietta Maria, and hung in the Presence Chamber at Colombes, but by 1688 were hanging in the Queen's Gallery at Windsor Castle.

    Provenance

    Acquired by Charles I in 1636 from Cardinal Francesco Barberini

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas

    Measurements

    181.7 x 138.2 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    198.8 x 152.3 x 8.5 cm (frame, external)

  • Alternative title(s)

    The Arts

    Arts & Science