CANTOFOLI, Ginevra
(b. 1618, Bologna, d. 1672, Bologna)

Sibyl

c. 1650
Oil on canvas, 65 x 49 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

Identified as a portrait of Beatrice Cenci (1577-99), this painting is famous for the tragic story of its subject, a young Roman noblewoman who was immortalized by Stendhal and Dumas. While the canvas was traditionally attributed to Guido Reni, its poor quality in comparison to other works of the master has led many critics to reject it as an autograph work. Instead, it could be by a painter in the immediate circle of Reni. Moreover, the identity of the sitter was also doubted. Nonetheless, misunderstanding continued throughout the twentieth century, with an alternation of confirmations and refutations regarding both the authorship and the identity of the portrayed figure. Finally, in the 1980s, the authorship of Ginevra Cantofoli was accepted and the idealised portrait of the young woman was considered as the representation of a sibyl.