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Gallery Text

This composition formed part of Giaquinto’s program of ten altarpieces designed for the sacristy of the church of San Luigi di Palazzo in Naples. Here the Neapolitan artist portrays the fulfillment of the Virgin’s Purification, an event taken from the Gospel of Saint Luke in which Mary presents the Christ child to the Lord after forty days of ritual “purifying.” Like other works from the series, this painting stresses the Virgin’s faith and humility in carrying out this obligation for new mothers, in spite of her divine purity, which made such a ritual unnecessary. Giaquinto focuses the narrative by casting a softened light on the central scene, with the Virgin balanced to her right by the priest Saint Simeon, and to her left by a kneeling maid offering two turtledoves.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Corrado Giaquinto, Italian (Molfetta 1703 - 1765 Naples)
The Presentation in the Temple
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Purification of the Virgin
Work Type
c. 1764-1765
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Campania, Naples
Italian, Neapolitan
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2220, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, Rococo and Neoclassicism in the Eighteenth Century
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
287 x 181 cm (113 x 71 1/4 in.)
framed: 303.2 x 195.9 x 7.6 cm (119 3/8 x 77 1/8 x 3 in.)
San Luigi de Palazzo, Naples, until c. 1815 (?). William Noel-Hill, 3rd Lord Berwick (1773-1842), purchased while Ambassador to Sardinia (1808-24) or while Ambassador to Naples (1824-33), and brought back to England. Church of the Advent, Cambridge, MA, sold; to [Edward F. Cloran, Boston], sold (as by F. Solimena); to Mrs. Ralph Pulitzer, Boston, July 26, 1957, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1958.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Mrs. Ralph Pulitzer
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Giuseppe Sigismondo, Descrizione della città di Napoli e suoi borghi, Presso I Fratelli Terres (Naples, 1788), p. 332

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1972), p. 85

Civiltà del '700 a Napoli, 1734-1799, Centro Di (Naples, 1979), pp. 300-302, cat. no. 163c, repr. p. 301

Irene Cioffi and Prof. Nicola Spinosa, The Golden Age of Naples: Art and Civilization Under the Bourbons, 1734-1805, exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts and The Art Institute of Chicago (Detroit, 1981), pp. 107-116, cat. no. 25c., repr. 114

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 59, color plate; pp. 109, 358, repr. b/w cat. no. 777

R. Ward Bissell and Andrea Derstine, Masters of Italian Baroque Painting, Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI, 2005), pp. 94, 97, under no. 30, repr. as fig. 3

Exhibition History

1, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, 08/10/1981 - 11/01/1981; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 12/21/1981 - 03/08/1982

Ideal [Dis-] Placements: Old Masters at the Pulitzer, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, 10/24/2008 - 10/03/2009

32Q: 2220 18th-19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu