This series of seasons by Giovanni Paolo Castelli (Lo Spadino) highlights how for centuries, artists have continued to represent the human form through nature.

Born in Rome in 1659, Lo Spadino began his artistic endeavours learning still-life from his older brother Bartolomeo.

Lo Spadino was influenced by the Flemish masters who would create luscious still-life paintings of flowers and fruit. He developed his own style of still-life, a theatrical late baroque style of sumptuous tumbling fruit, vibrant in colour, created using masterful painting skills.

This series of work by Lo Spadino representing the Four Seasons will be coming up for auction at Dorotheum, Vienna. A leader in still-life from the late 17th and early 18th century, the painting style of these anthropomorphic allegories of the seasons suggest that the series of pictures were produced in the middle of the artist's career, around the last decade of the 17th century.

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The figure of Spring is composed of seasonal flowers, set like a statue in an elegant garden setting with courtly figures in the background. Summer is composed of vibrant fruit and flowers with a wreath of corn in its head, set in a more rustic landscape with figures harvesting the corn in the background.

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By contrast, Autumn is represented by a much more dynamic and bucolic figure, raising a bunch of grapes to his mouth while in the background dancing peasants celebrate the harvesting of the grapes. Winter is a figure in profile, composed of cabbages, leeks, citrus fruits and other seasonal elements, while in the background, under a stormy sky, people sit by a hut are lighting a fire.

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In the past 10 years, prices for Lo Spadino have doubled at auction. In 1992, in Christie's, A Rabbit with a halved Melon, Grapes, Pomegranates, Apples and Plums and a Glass Bowl of Fruit on a rocky Bank sold in a sale in London for £43 200, against an estimate of £15 500 – 20 700. In 2006, a still-life by the artist sold for £145 500 (estimate: £60 600-91 000.) See more realised prices for Lo Spadino here.

The auction at Dorotheum will also feature an exceptional painting by the Florentine painter Felice Ficherelli. The painting portrays Saint Praxedis, a young Roman patrician who offered the first Christian martyrs comfort and relief. Praxedis kneels in the foreground, whilst a dead martyr can be seen in the background as Praxedis wrings a sponge soaked with his blood. he celebrated Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer replicated Ficherelli's work.

171017Ficherelli Felice Ficherelli (1603 - 1660) Saint Praxedis, oil
Dorotheum, 17th October, 2017

The painting by Ficherelli was owned by the same family for centuries and will, according to it's documented history, be offered at auction for the very first time at Dorotheum. There are two other known copies of the Saint Praxedis painting, one by Ficherelli himself, which hangs in a private collection in Ferrara, the other is Vermeer's version. The painting offered for sale at Dorotheum appears to be the first of the three versions and therefore the original on which the other two were modelled.

Dorotheum's auction will take place from 17th - 19th October, 2017. The sale will feature Old Master paintings, 19th Century paintings, Works of Art and jewellery. Check out more here.

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