In the most extreme versions of her legend, the young woman comes out unscathed from each trial, leading to her final martyrdom. Swallowed in her whole by the dragon, she is rejected when her crucifix irritates the digestive system of the monster. The rich patrons of the later Renaissance appreciate such an allegory of irreproachable virtue.
Raphael executed around 1518 two paintings on this theme. The version of the Vienna Museum is the most dramatic. The body of the foul beast encircles the young woman who remains standing with a great calm brought by her confidence in her crucifix. In the Louvre version, Margaret moves away from the beast.
Towards the end of his career, Titian conceived an even more dramatic composition. The position of the girl is similar to that of Vienna's Raphael but she is frightened. The beast is under her bare foot in the foreground in a mixture of dark tones that increases the horror by voluntarily reducing the readability.
The standing Margaret looks down at her enemy. She turns her back on another apocalyptic danger, the fire of Venice far away. This heterogeneous scene becomes more logical if it appears as a cluster of threats around the heroic Christian and not as a victory. Clothes and hair are impeccable, which does not match with a regurgitation, even miraculous.
Two almost identical versions are known of Titian's St. Margaret. One of them, in the Prado, is dated circa 1559.
The other version, oil on canvas 198 x 168 cm after a reduction of height in the mid-20th century, had belonged to the collection of King Charles I. It is signed by Titian near a vanity but was probably realized in major part by his workshop, perhaps simultaneously with the autograph version. The quality of the light of the Venice fire makes propose for its completion a later date, around 1565.
This painting is estimated $ 2M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on February 1, lot 27. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
SOLD for $ 2.17M including premium