Martha rebukes her vain sister (copy after Lupicini) 1899
Biblical scene. A beautiful young woman sits at a table covered with red cloth, on it a mirror, jewelry box and other precious objects. She looks at the viewer with a smile. She is dressed in a blue and white robe richly decorated with lace and red and gold embroidery. A servant in a yellow dress is standing behind her and arranges her long curls. Next to her stands her sister, in a simple dark dress with red sleeve edging, around her head a white veil, her hands raised in a pleading, wrestling posture.
Oil on canvas 133 x 106 cm
Signature: none discernible, but based on the Dorotheum attribution probably present.
Private collection Austria.
The painting is a faithful copy in identical format of a work by Francesco Lupicini (ca. 1590-1656), painted ca. 1625-1630, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) Vienna (for original see cross-references). The scene was a common topos in 17th and 18th century painting. The Lupicini Orginal is part of the canonical collection of images published by David Teniers ca. 1660 as Theatrum Pictorium (#241), and appears in many variations by numerous artists. The biblical context is: Martha of Bethany implores her sister Mary (Magdalene) to renounce vain worldly things. The scene depicted is not described in the Bible, but both sisters (siblings of Lazarus raised from the dead) appear in the Gospels of Luke and John.
Adams probably made this work to demonstrate his ability to paint in an "old master" manner. The fact that Adams painted copies of other people's works and his own is proven by several examples: Romeo and Juliet after Angeli, Künstlerhaus Stifterportrait Metternich-Winneburg (after older model), Helene Odilon (own copy), or in portraits of Emperor Franz Josef (own copy) and especially emperor Charles, where three versions of the same portrait exist in different formats and backgrounds by the artist. The Lupicini copy is faithful to the original in all details. The darker hue of Adams' copy compared to the original may be due to the different lighting conditions and quality of the image between a layman's photograph (kindly provided by the owner) and the museum-quality image from the KHM. The damage in the canvas, which was present at the time of acquisition at the Dorotheum auction in 1995, has since been restored.
The Lupicini original in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
Unknown. Auction Dorotheum Vienna 20.3.1995 Lot#230. Private property Austria.