(c. 1678), oil, canvas, 129 x 97,5 cm
NG S 1129, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
Although the subject of this painting was often taken to be Flora and Zephyr, it is in fact an allegory of Aurora (Dawn). Every single iconographic element actually corresponds to those on the famous Aurora, which Guido Reni painted between 1612 and 1614 in the Casino of the palace of Cardinal Scipione Borghese on the Quirinal in Rome (today Palazzo Rospigliosi-Pallavicini). On both, Reni’s fresco and our painting, Aurora is moving from left to right and scattering flowers on the ground, whose horizon we see at the lower right. Aurora is accompanied by a putto carrying a little torch: according to Giovanni Pietro Bellori, on Reni’s fresco this figure represents one of Venus’ sons, who is driving away the clouds and summoning first light (G. P. Bellori: Le Vite de’ Pittori, Scultori e Architetti moderni, 1672, cited from ed. E. Borea, Turin 1976, p. 499).
A comparison with works which are undoubtedly by Carlone shows that this picture must be dated to his last Genoese period, when the painter returned from Rome to his native city around the year 1678. This is supported in particular by the similarities to the big fresco The Free Arts in one of the halls in the Palazzo Rosso in Genoa from 1691–1692. It is possible that our painting was to have decorated a ceiling and that its original size was much bigger.
Restored: 1960, ZSV, Ljubljana.
Provenance: Unknown. Entrusted to the Narodna galerija by the Government of Slovenia in 1950.
Exhibitions: 1960, Ljubljana, No. 22; 1983, Ljubljana, No. 20; 1985, Belgrade, No. 15.
Lit.: Cevc 1960, p. 21, Cat. No. 22, Fig. 12 (Venetian, 17C); Rizzi 1970, p. 234, note 3 (perhaps Genoese work, 17C); Rizzi 1972, p. 133, No. 22, (anonymous Genoese, 17C); Zeri [& Rozman] 1983, pp. 113–114, Cat. No. 20, Fig. 6 and on the cover; Aloisi 1998, pp. 76, 79, 85, Fig. 3.