possibly circle of Titian, The Abduction of Persephone

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
The Abduction of Persephone
Medium and support
Oil on wood
Overall height: 34 cm, Overall width: 133 cm
possibly circle of Titian
Catalogue Number


This panel was, presumably, part of a frieze illustrating the Loves of the Gods but the present writer is unable to attach any other panel to it, either by the same hand or another. The painting was attributed to Dosso Dossi by Berenson in 1907 but this attribution was not retained in later editions of his lists. It is clearly inaccurate but it may in part have been prompted by the pose of the woman at lower right, which does have something of the gesticulating clumsiness of the later Dosso. Even so, none of the other figures is at all like those in his work nor are the colours and textures like his. The figure of Persephone is surprisingly poorly drawn and lacks substance but the running man before the chariot seems to have a faint echo of Pordenone and Pluto himself is a little reminiscent of Paris Bordone, of whom Professor Humfrey also thought when he was consulted.1 However, it is not Paris’s work, as Dr Andrea Donati has kindly confirmed.2

The present writer is inclined to think that this picture is by one of the minor painters who gravitated round Titian; the colours and lighting of the landscape are reminiscent of those of Titian’s work of the early 1520s. The estimated date is c.1530–40.

by Paul Joannides


Bernard Berenson, The North Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, New York and London : G. P. Putnam, 1907, p. 209, Dosso

Adolfo Venturi, Storia dell’arte italiana, vol. 9, pt 3, Rome : Ulrico Hoepli, 1928, p. 976, Dosso

Amalia Mezzetti, Il Dosso e Battista Ferrarese, Ferrara : Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara, 1965, No. 67, Venetian near Bonifazio

Oliver Garnett, 'The Letters and Collection of William Graham: Pre-Raphaelite Patron and Pre-Raphael Collector', The Walpole Society, vol. 62, 2000, d43, p. 308, as circle of Bonifazio de’Pitati, previously attributed to Schiavone/Schidone (Edward White; his sale, Christie’s, London, 5 April 1872 [8] as ‘Schiavone’, bought William Graham £2 10s; WG inventory 362: £89/sale 455, bought Agnew [3949] 26 g


  1. Professor Peter Humfrey, private communication, 2020.

  2. Dr Andrea Donati, private communication, 2020.


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