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The sibyl was an oracle of Apollo from the Greek island of Samos who prophesied that Jesus would be born of a virgin, as the inscription on the scroll indicates: ‘Hail Zion, chaste maiden who has much suffered’.

The painting was made for Gioseffo Locatelli of Cesena in 1651 as a companion to the 'King David' (private collection). These pendants were later in the Spencer collection and the frame was designed by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart for Spencer House in London. The ‘Samian Sibyl’ is related to the Cumaean Sibyl, also in the Gallery’s collection.  

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