A rare late 16th century portrait of An African Woman holding a Clock by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) will be brought to TEFAF, The European Fine Art Fair at Maastricht by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art. A full provenance for the work by the renowned Italian Baroque artist has been established and it includes King Philip V of Spain and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. The oil on canvas portrait was painted circa 1585 and depicts a finely dressed African woman holding a gilded clock and commanding a direct gaze. She wears a necklace of coral, pearl earrings, and intriguingly presents to the viewer a timepiece of extreme luxury and technological advancement, perhaps reflecting the sitter’s, or patron’s, modernity and intellect.
During the 1580s Annibale Carracci was painting the most radical and innovative pictures in Europe. He introduced a new, broken brushwork technique to represent the effects of light on form, which gave his works an intimacy and immediacy.
In-depth research by Leeds and London based Tomasso Brothers has revealed the rich history of this unusual painting; it passed from the studio of the artist Carlo Maratti (1625-1713) to Philip V of Spain via one of Maratti’s disciples, Andrea Procaccini (1671-1734), who was painter to Phillip V and in charge of decorating the monarch’s new palace San Ildefonso in Segovia. In August 1812 the painting was made a gift to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, along with 11 other works, following his stay at San Ildefonso Palace during the Spanish War of Independence. It remained in a private collection until sold by Christie’s London in 2005. The work was shown at The Walters Art Museum and Princeton University Art Museum (USA 2013) in the exhibition ‘Revealing the African presence in Renaissance Europe’. TEFAF is at Maastricht from March 10-19.