Leighton painted many head-and-shoulders studies of this approximate size and type, and in 1881 A. B. Stewart sold, in addition to Lucia, two others, called Teresa (whereabouts unknown) and Lily (Richard Green Gallery, London). Lucia and Lily have frames of the same style, and originally the three works may have been installed as a group. While Lucia must be the original title of the present work, there is not enough evidence to assume that the young woman who sat for the picture was Italian, that Lucia was really her name, or that, as the Ormonds (1975) have suggested, she was painted in 1874. Titles of this kind could also be construed simply as romantic or could have been intended to suggest that the young women were models, not portrait sitters.
A similar half-length figure, in the same pose as Lucia and with the same sort of costume, was exhibited under the title Rubinella at the Grosvenor Gallery, London, in 1880 (sold, Sotheby's, London, November 26, 1985, no. 36). The pose was one of the artist’s favorites, and he used it when Dorothy Dene modeled in the early 1880s for Antigone (private collection). Lucia may date from the late 1870s, and A. B. Stewart was probably its original owner.
The stencil on the reverse (see fig. 1 above) indicates that Leighton bought the prepared, stretched canvas from the supplier Roberson. Two pieces of commercially primed canvas were fixed to the stretcher with the primed surfaces facing out, which, it was thought, would offer protection from industrial pollution.
[2012; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
A. B. Stewart, Rawcliffe Lodge, Glasgow (until 1881; sale, Christie's, London, May 9, 1881, no. 91, as Lucia, for £262.10.0 to Agnew); [Agnew, London, 1881; sold to Wolfe]; John Wolfe, New York (from 1881); his cousin, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, New York (until d. 1887)
Walter Rowlands. "The Miss Wolfe Collection." Art Journal, n.s., (January 1889), p. 13, as a woman's head by Leighton.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hand-Book No. 1: The Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection and Other Modern Paintings. New York, 1894, p. 20, no. 70, as "Head of a Woman, 'Lucia'".
Arthur Hoeber. The Treasures of The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. New York, 1899, p. 100.
Edgcumbe Staley. Lord Leighton of Stretton, P.R.A. London, 1906, p. 261.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 59.
Leonée Ormond and Richard Ormond. Lord Leighton. New Haven, 1975, p. 162, no. 228, as "Lucia", about 1874(?), noting that the name of this Roman model occurs in a notebook of that year (Royal Academy XI).
Barbara Coffey. Letter to Lucy Oakley (August 9, 1978), identifies the model as Dorothy Dene and supposes it to be a study for Leighton's "Antigone" of 1882.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 209, ill.
Victorian and Traditionalist Pictures. Christie's, London. June 5, 2008, p. 106, under no. 43, notes that it was one of three similar paintings owned by A. B. Stewart, the others being "Lily" (lot no. 43) and "Teresa" (present location unknown).
Rachel Boyd. Nineteenth Century Paintings. Exh. cat., Richard Green at Three London Galleries. London, 2008, p. 54.
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 274, 284–86, no. 135, ill. (color).
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