Inventory of the collection of Lorenzo Chigi Montoro. 1697, f. 717 v. [Archivio di Stato Vaticano, Archivio Patrizi-Montoro, armadio A, tomo 46 (bis) pos. 600 e ss.; see Refs. Pedrocchi 2000 and Dorotheum 2011], lists "quattro quadri di nove e otto con cornice intagliata e dorata con istorie diverse del Romanelli, sc. 800".
Lione Pascoli. Vite de' pittori, scultori, ed architetti moderni. 1, Rome, 1730, p. 95, states that Romanelli painted four pictures for Lorenzo Chigi, representing Ulysses, Cleopatra, Venus, and Polyxena.
Serie degli uomini i piu' illustri in pittura, scultura, e architettura. 11, Florence, 1775, p. 103, states that Romanelli made four paintings for Lorenzo Chigi depicting Venus, Polyxena, Ulysses, and Cleopatra.
Inventario dej Quadri che si trovano nel Palazzo Chigi. 1776, c. 12r [Archivio di Stato Vaticano, Archivio Patrizi Montoro, B78, cc. 1114; see Ref. Dorotheum 2011], lists "quattro quadri, in misura di 7 e 9 per traverso rappresentanti quattro Storie diverse: cioè due Istorie Sagre e due Profane, con sue cornici Indorate et intagliate all'antica= Dipinti da Francesco Romanelli".
Filippo Baldinucci. Notizie dei professori del disegno da Cimabue. . . 5, Florence, 1847, p. 422, states that Romanelli made four paintings ("quadri da sala") for Lorenzo Chigi: Venus, Polyxena, Ulysses, and Cleopatra.
Federico Zeri and Elizabeth E. Gardner. Unpublished manuscript. [ca. 1970–80], ascribe this picture to the late 1650s, "surely after the artist's return to Viterbo in 1658," and believe it belongs to the series of four pictures by Romanelli executed for Lorenzo Chigi [see Refs. Pascoli 1730 and Baldinucci 1847]; identify the patron as Lorenzo di Lorenzo, Marquess of Montoro, a member of the secondary branch of the Chigi family that settled in Viterbo; note that one of the set, "Ulysses Recognizing Achilles among the Daughters of Lycomedes" (Chrysler Museum, Norfolk), was with the MMA picture until the late 1940s when they were both for sale on the art markets of Paris and New York; mention a third picture, identical in style and close in size to these, representing "The Death of Cleopatra" (Patrizi-Montoro collection, Rome, the direct descendants of Lorenzo Chigi), and note that the fourth work with Venus is missing; comment that a label from the MMA picture, which cannot be later than mid-eighteenth century, attributes the picture to Romanelli, but creates confusion by stating that it belonged to a series with two profane and two religious scenes.
James Thompson. Unpublished manuscript. 1971–72, unpaginated, dates it 1635–40 and links it with Romanelli's "Achilles Surprised Among the Daughters of Lycomedes" in the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk; entertains the possibility that these works are the "profane half" of the group of four picures, two Sacred and two Profane, mentioned in the inscription originally on the reverse of the MMA painting [see Notes]; as an alternative, hypothesizes that the MMA picture and the one in Norfolk were part of a series, including a Venus, Polyxena, Ulysses [featured in the Norfolk picture], and Cleopatra, executed by Romanelli for the Chigi family, and mentioned by both Pascoli and Baldinucci [see Refs. 1730 and 1847]; suggests, furthermore, that a "Cleopatra" in the Patrizi collection [Rome] may have been part of the same group, as it is comparable in size and style.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 176, 478, 609, call it the Sacrifice of Iphigenia.
Federico Zeri. Letter to James Thompson. March 31, 1972, notes that he recently visited the Palazzo Patrizi in Rome and was unable to locate an "Acis and Galatea" by Romanelli, but was able to securely identify a "Death of Cleopatra" by him, similar in measurements and style to the MMA and Chrysler pictures [see Ref. Zeri and Gardner 1970–80].
Bernhard Kerber. Letter to Elizabeth Gardner. 1975, cites a Triumph of Venus in the Cassa di Risparmio, Viterbo (Italo Faldi, "Restauri e acqusizioni al patrimonio artistico di Viterbo," Palazzo dei Priori, June 10, 1972, no. 16, 228 x 255 cm); notes that in his entry Faldi identifies it with the Venus from Romanelli's series mentioned by Pascoli [Ref. 1730] and states that it came from the Palazzo Chigi-Albani delle Rovere at Urbino.
Bernhard Kerber. "Beiträge zu Giovanni Francesco Romanelli." Giessener Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte 3 (1975), pp. 195, 198–99, ill., compares it to a study for this picture in the Albertina, Vienna, noting that the composition of the painting is more expansive.
Sylvia Hochfield. "Conservation: The Need is Urgent." Art News 75 (February 1976), p. 28, comments that the picture's state of preservation causes an imbalance in the colors.
Bernhard Kerber. "Addenda zu Giovanni Francesco Romanelli." Giessener Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte 4 (1979), pp. 6, 13–14 n. 45, identifies the four Romanelli paintings mentioned by Pascoli and Baldinucci [Refs. 1730 and 1847] as the MMA's "Sacrifice of Polyxena," "Achilles among the Daughters of Lycomedes" (Chysler Museum, Norfolk), "Death of Cleopatra" (Palazzo Patrizi, Rome), and "Venus" (Cassa di Risparmio, Viterbo); accepts Faldi's dating of the series to the last quarter of the 1640s or the beginning of the 1650s.
Donald Posner. "Pietro da Cortona, Pittoni, and the Plight of Polyxena." Art Bulletin 73 (1991), p. 406, ill., dates it "probably in the 1650s" and believes the subject matter "depends on Cortona," comparing it to his "Sacrifice of Polyxena" in the Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome; notes that Romanelli's Polyxena (like Cortona's) "remains the passive victim".
Anna Maria Pedrocchi. Le Stanze del Tesoriere: la Quadreria Patrizi, cultura senese nella storia del collezionismo romano del Seicento. Milan, 2000, p. 272, catalogues Romanelli's "Death of Cleopatra" in the Patrizi collection, Rome; notes that the Lorenzo Chigi Montoro inventory of 1697 lists four different histories ("istorie diverse") by Romanelli and the Chigi Montoro inventory of 1776 lists four different histories, two sacred and two profane, by the artist; believes that the "Death of Cleopatra" and the MMA "Polyxena"—due to the label on its back and its measurements—formed the pair of "profane histories" mentioned in the later inventory, pointing out, however, that the two "sacred histories" cannot be traced; dates the Cleopatra soon after 1642.
Alte Meister. Dorotheum, Vienna. April 13, 2011, pp. 116, 118, ill., under no. 450, dates the series to the late 1630s or early 1640s, noting that the Chigi family made payments to Romanelli during that time and comparing the composition of "The Death of Cleopatra" to the painter's "Arion and the Dolphin" of 1642; cites a Chigi inventory of 1681 [probably an error for 1697] listing four paintings of various stories by Romanelli.