Issued 8th November 2010
This will be the first time the pair have been seen together since they left Guercino’s studio more than 300 years ago.
'King David' belongs to a private collection and is normally displayed at Spencer House.
Both paintings will be on show in Room 32 of the National Gallery in celebration of Sir Denis Mahon’s 100th birthday.
'The Cumaean Sibyl with a Putto' is one of Guercino’s finest late works - imposing in composition, rich in colour and dignified in pose and gesture. It represents one of the 12 pagan sibyls, or seers, who were reputed to have foretold the coming of Christ. The Cumaean Sibyl predicted that Christ would be born of a virgin in a stable at Bethlehem.
The painting was commissioned in 1651 by Gioseffo Locatelli of Cesena as a companion to the 'King David' but was bought by Prince Mattias de' Medici. Guercino painted a replacement for Locatelli, the 'Samian Sibyl', which is also in the Spencer Collection, Althorp.
Guercino’s 'King David' is another of the most important of the artist’s later works and is an example of the technical excellence that made him the leading exponent of the Bolognese school. In an exceptional state of preservation, its paint layering retains all of its original subtlety of touch and structure and allows for a full appreciation of Guercino’s technique. 'King David' is a recurrent protagonist in Guercino’s work, most often appearing in depictions of the exploits of youth, but in this case a specific set of attributes have been deployed to emphasise this is the sage David of later years.
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