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Provenance

Count Grigory Stroganov [1829-1910], Rome.[1] (Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Rome, 1927); purchased 1931 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[2] gift 1939 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1929
Il Settecento italiano, Palazzo delle Biennale, Venice, 1929, no. 20.
1932
An Exhibition of Italian Paintings Lent by Mr. Samuel H. Kress of New York to Museums, Colleges, and Art Associations, travelling exhibition, 24 venues, 1932-1935, mostly unnumbered catalogues, p. 46 or p. 52, repro.
1938
Exhibition of Venetian Painting From the Fifteenth Century through the Eighteenth Century, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 1938, no. 51, repro., as Saint Helen Finding the True Cross.
1938
Tiepolo and His Contemporaries, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1938, no. 3, repro., as Saint Helen Finding the True Cross.
1938
Venetian Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, Seattle Art Museum; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Montgomery Art Museum, Alabama, 1938, no cat.
1989
Sebastiano Ricci, Villa Manin di Passariano, Udine, 1989, no. 70 (cat. by Aldo Rizzi).
1994
The Glory of Venice: Art in the Eighteenth Century, Royal Academy of Arts, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museo del Settecento Veneziano - Ca'Rezzonico, Venice, 1994-1995, no. 8, repro. (shown only in Venice in 1995).
2010
Sebastiano Ricci. Il trionfo dell'invenzione nel Settecento veneziano., Exhibition Facilities, Ex Convitto, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, 2010, no. 27, repro.
Bibliography
1932
Frankfurter, Alfred M. "Eighteenth Century Venice in a New York Collection." The Fine Arts 19 (December 1932): 30.
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 169, no. 183, as The Finding of the True Cross.
1942
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 243, repro. 177.
1950
Pallucchini, Rodolfo. "Giunte a Sebastiano Ricci." Proporzioni 3 (1950): 214.
1952
Palluchini, Rodolfo. "Studi Ricceschi I, Contributo a Sebastiano." Arte Veneta 6 (1952): 83.
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 233, repro., as The Finding of the True Cross.
1960
Pallucchini 1960, 17, repro.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 114, as The Finding of the True Cross.
1966
Levey, Michael. Rococo to Revolution. New York, 1966: 32, fig. 15.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 102, repro., as The Finding of the True Cross.
1969
Daniels, Jeffery. "Sebastiano Ricci: The Last Phase." Apollo 90 (1969): 9, color pl. 3.
1972
Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972: 175.
1973
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XVI-XVIII Century. London, 1973: 128-129, fig. 256.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 304, repro., as The Finding of the True Cross.
1976
Daniels, Jeffery. L'opera completa di Sebastiano Ricci. Milan, 1976: 137, no. 521, color pl. 63.
1976
Daniels, Jeffery. Sebastiano Ricci. Hove, 1976: 153, nos. 529-b, fig. 313.
1976
Martini, Egidio. "Due bozzetti di Sebastiano Ricci e alcune osservazioni sulla sua tecnica pittorica." In Atti del Congress internationzale di studi su Sebastiano Ricci e il suo tempo. Milan, 1976: 37.
1976
Pallucchini, Rodolfo. "Sebastiano Ricci e il rococò europeo." In Atti del Congresso internazionale di studi su Sebastiano Ricci e il suo tempo. Milan, 1976: 15-16.
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. Washington, 1979: I:398-400, II:pl. 284.
1980
Fornari Schianchi, Lucia. In Arte e Pietà. I patrimoni culturali delle opere pie. Exh. cat. Museo Civico, Palazzo Pepoli Campogrande, and Conservatorio del Baraccano. Bologna, 1980: 328.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 351, repro., as The Finding of the True Cross.
1987
Cirillo, Giuseppe, and Giovanni Godi. La Pinacoteca Stuard di Parma. Parma, 1987: 146.
1988
Tanzi, Marco. In Bozzetti, modelli e grisailles dal XVI al XVIII secolo. Exh. cat. Fondazione Lungarotti at Museo del Vino, Torgiano. Milan, 1988: 74.
1996
De Grazia, Diane, and Eric Garberson, with Edgar Peters Bowron, Peter M. Lukehart, and Mitchell Merling. Italian Paintings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 224-230, color repro. 227.
Technical Summary

The support is a medium-fine, plain-weave fabric. The warm yellow-white ground has a rough, pebbled texture and is visible above the incised line that defines the arched top of the composition. The ground influences the overall tonality and texture of the surface design. The seraphim heads at the upper left are less finished than the others and are drawn with a darker brown than in the pendant. Otherwise, the painting technique is identical in the two sketches. X-radiographs reveal several pentimenti. The shadowy image of arms and a partial torso below the left arm of the cross suggests that the left angel was placed higher or that an additional angel was planned. The angel at the upper right originally gazed outward. The legs of the figure kneeling before the cross were shifted downward.

Cusping is present only along the right edge. Small, scattered losses are concentrated at the edges. The heaviest retouching occurs over areas of abrasion in the background sky. The varnish has darkened slightly. A file at the Frick Art Reference Library notes that the painting was relined in 1929. The Gallery's files report that Stephen Pichetto relined, removed discolored varnish, and restored the painting about 1931.