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After Carlo Dolci - St. Agnes


After Carlo Dolci (1616-1686), Italian
St. Agnes, undated copy
OIL ON CANVAS, 25 x 19 ½ inches
Gift of Mrs. Theodora Willard Best

Carlo Dolci's portrayal of the early Roman St. Agnes includes her identifying attribute, a lamb. The lamb was also an early Christian symbol of Jesus in his sacrificial role and may have represented Agnes' devotion to him as well as her own martyrdom. She was killed at the age of thirteen for refusing marriage to a Roman prefect because she had already devoted her life to Jesus. Like many of Dolci's works, including the two others reproduced in the Athenaeum's collection, St. Agnes centers upon the subject's head and torso bathed in a bright, dramatic light against a dark backdrop to accentuate her emotional state, a signature characteristic of Italian Baroque art.