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Cain smiting Abel with God's Expulsion of Cain from the Garden of Eden
oil on canvas
6618 x 5234 in. (167.9 x 134 cm.)

Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 28 January 1999, lot 335.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, Milan, 20 November 2007, lot 124.
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Lot Essay

The Old Testament story of fraternal jealousy and murder is shown here with the full force of the Riccis' combined abilites. The collaboration between Sebastiano and his nephew Marco began in around 1718, when they executed a series of wall paintings for the Villa Vescovile di Belvedere in Belluno. In the present work, Sebastiano would have been responsible for the figures of Cain killing his borther in a jealous rage, and the younger artist would have undertaken the landscape setting. The powerful stone arch, which provides a proscenium for the expulsion of Cain from Eden in the background, is typical of Marco's work, combining as it does a strong sense of the theatrical with a desire for naturalism.

It was previously suggested that the figures might have been the work of Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, who travelled with Marco in the company of Charles Montagu, later 1st Duke of Manchester, to England in the summer of 1708. The two painters collaborated on several canvases for Narford Hall, Norfolk, as well as several theatrical and operatic productions and decorations for Lord Manchester's London home and Castle Howard, Yorkshire. It is difficult to diferentiate here between the work of Pellegrini and his teacher, Sebastiano, whose work understandably influenced the younger painter's style, and also because Marco was collaborating with both artists at this period. However, the assured fluidity of execution of the figures has led to the conclusion that Sebastiano, rather than his less experienced pupil, was the author.

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