The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Oracle

Object Details

Title:

The Oracle

Artist/Maker:

Camillo Miola (Biacca) (Italian (Neapolitan), 1840 - 1919)

Culture:

Italian

Date:

1880

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Object Number:

72.PA.32

Dimensions:

108 × 142.9 cm (42 1/2 × 56 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

The Pythia, a virgin from the local village selected in ceremonies that established her as Apollo's choice, sits atop the sacred tripod as the Delphic oracle. To the left is the omphalos, the most sacred object at Delphi, regarded as the center of the earth. A plinth on the right bears an inscription describing Apollo's conquest of Delphi with the Cretans, who became his first priests.

The prophetess went to the tripod on the sacred seventh day of each month, the day of Apollo's birth, nine months of the year, to await the god's inspiration; her inspired utterances were later interpreted by a priest. The ancient Greeks considered the Delphic oracle--both Apollo's divine prophecy and the prophetess through whom it was spoken--the final authority on almost any matter, whether religious, political, or social.

Camillo Miola merged academic and classical traditions to construct his view of the classical past. He filled the canvas with seemingly archaeologically accurate costume, architecture, and furnishings, and painted in a highly detailed style to create an ancient world that appears fully real.

Provenance
Provenance
by 1880 -

Pinacoteca Provinciale (Naples, Italy)

- 1972

Private Collection [sold, Parke-Bernet, New York, February 24, 1972, lot 273, to Ira Spanierman.]

1972

Ira Spanierman, born 1928 (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
IVa Esposizione nazionale di belle arte (1880)
  • Palazzo dell' Esposizione (Turin), 1880
Bibliography
Bibliography

IVa Esposizione nazionale di belle arti: Torino-1880; Catalogo ufficiale generale, exh. cat. (Turin: Vincenzo Bona, 1880), p. 82, no. 534.

Rocca, Maria, principessa della. L'arte moderna in Italia: Napoli; Studii, biografie e schizzi della principessa Maria della Rocca, con disegni autografi dei principali artisti viventi (Milan: Fratelli Treves, 1883), p. 147.

De Gubernatis, Angelo. Dizionario degli artisti italiani viventi: Pittori, scultori e architetti (Florence: Tipi dei successori Le Monnier, 1889), p. 303.

"Notizie ed Osservazioni: Le opera d'arte della Provincia di Napoli." In Napoli nobilissima: Rivista di arti figurative, archeologia e urbanistica 12 (1903), p. 30.

Càllari, Luigi. Storia dell'arte contemporanea italiana (Rome: Ermanno Loescher & C., 1909), p. 216.

Celentano, Lubrano. Esiste un'arte moderna in Italia? [...] (Milan: Libreria Editrice Milanese, 1912), p. 71.

Giannelli, Enrico. Artisti napoletani viventi: Pittori, scultori, incisori ed architetti; Opere da loro esposte, vendute e premii ottenuti in espozizioni nazionali ed internazionali (Naples: Melfi & Joele, 1916), pp. 336, 338.

Sapori, Francesco. "La XII mostra d'arte a Venezia: II. La scultura straniera; III. La pittura italiana." Emporium 52, nos. 307-8 (July-August 1920), p. 18.

Comanducci, A. M. Dizionario illustrato dei pittori, disegnatori e incisori italiani moderni e contemporanei. 3rd ed., rev. by Luigi Pelandi and Luigi Servolini (Milan: Leonilde M. Patuzzi, 1962), p. 1197.

Parke-Bernet, New York. Old Master and Nineteenth Century Paintings and Drawings. February 23-24, 1972, p. 26, lot 273.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 87, ill.