Charles Dickens, visiting Rome early in 1845, discovered himself haunted by a portray. It was, he stated, ‘nearly unattainable to be forgotten’. It was of a younger lady with a white turban, trying again over her shoulder in the direction of the artist. Dickens noticed in her eyes ‘celestial hope, and a good looking sorrow, and a desolate earthly helplessness’.
The portray’s topic was Beatrice Cenci. She had been executed in September 1599, aged 22, alongside along with her mom and her brother, for the homicide of her father, Depend Francesco Cenci. Some historians have doubted Beatrice’s declare, made at trial, that Francesco raped her; there is no such thing as a doubt that he was violent and abusive.
Dickens was one in every of many moved by the portray; it impressed works from each Shelley and Stendahl. Nevertheless it wasn’t linked to Beatrice till the late 18th century. It was later attributed to the Bolognese artist, Guido Reni, who was stated to have seen Beatrice in her cell, or else on her technique to her execution.
It’s now regarded as by Ginevra Cantofoli, one in every of a number of forgotten ladies artists in Bologna in the course of the Baroque interval – and never of Cenci in any respect. Maybe an execution and an erasure go collectively, Romantic projections of 1 lady’s struggling serving to obscure and flatten two ladies’s lives.