Saint Cecilia
Guido Reni (Italian, 1575-1642)
On View

Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, was venerated for her chastity. According to legend, on the day of her forced marriage to a pagan, Cecilia used the cadence of wedding music to sing to God in her heart. Seventeenth-century representations often visualize this private melody by depicting Cecilia as a musician. In this painting by Guido Reni, she holds a violin in an unusual position—balanced on a table rather than cradled against her shoulder or chest—though the careful placement of her fingers suggests knowledge of the instrument. Cecilia’s upturned eyes guide her music heavenward. In the saint’s dedicated church in Rome, devotees used this painting for meditation, imagining Cecilia’s devout song, perhaps mingled with audible music filling the church around them.


  • Artist Name: Guido Reni (Italian, 1575-1642)
  • Title: Saint Cecilia
  • Date: 1606
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 37-3/4 x 29-1/2 in. (95.9 x 74.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1973.23.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Commissioned by Cardinal Paolo Emilio Sfondrati, Rome, 1606, sold 1608 to;
Cardinal Borghese Caffarelli, Scipione, by descent to heirs;
Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Canino (1775-1840), Rome, by 1812, ceded in 1820 to;
Maria Louisa Josephine, Duchess of Lucca (Queen of Etruria), by inheritance to her son Carlo Lodovico di Borbone, Duke of Lucca; 1824-1840, brought to London for sale in 1840;
Marquess of Lansdowne (1854-1952), Lansdowne House, Bowood, Wiltshire, as Domenichino.
[David M. Koester, New York].
Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., New York, by 1962.
Robert Manning, New York, sold 29 May 1970 to;
[Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York, sold to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Baroque Painters of Bologna and Neighboring Cities: A Loan Exhibition

  • New York, Finch College, Museum of Art, 1962-02-27 to 1962-04-08
Desauvage, Grégory, Liège Museum No. 3, 1, 13
Sandrart, Joachim von, Academia nobilissimae artis pictoriae, p. 185
Matthiesen, P.; and D. Stephen Pepper, Apollo, pp. 459, 460
McCorquodale, Charles, The Connoisseur, p. 204-205
Cavalli, Gian Carlo, Mostra di Guido Reni, p. 52
Cerkovnik, Esma, " nos immutabimur" - Music and Conversion in Rome in the First Half of the 17th Century, Figure 6 p. 166
Bullard, E. John, Arts Quarterly, pp. 14, 37
edts Elizabeth Cropper and Lorenzo Pericolo, Felsina pittrice = Volume nine, Life of Guido Reni / Lives of the Bolognese painters., fig. 48 Part 1: p. 246, p. 267 ; Part 2: p. 204 (ill.)
Choix de gravures à l'eau forte, d'après les peintres originales et les marbres de la galerie de Lucien Bonaparte, pp. 5, 98
Pepper, D. Stephen, Art Quarterly, pp. 326, 339
Stockholms Auktionsverk, Stora Kvalitén, pp. 176-79
Gnudi, Cesare; and Gian Carlo Cavalli, Guido Reni, no. 7, pl. 11
Pepper, D. Stephen, Guido Reni: A Complete Catalogue of His Works, p. 221
Renato Miracco, Italian Treasures in the U.S. An Itinerary of Art, p. #39
Buchanan, William, Memoirs of Painting, with a Chronological History of the Importation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution, p. 289
Garboli, Cesare; and E. Baccheschi, L'opera completa di Guido Reni, no. 28 p. 88
Apollo, p. 61
Waagen, G. F., Treasures of Art in Great Britian, p. 152
Manning, Robert L., Baroque Painters of Bologne and Neighboring Cities, no. 6
The Age of Corregio and the Carracci: Emilian Painting in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, p. 446
Jameson, Anna, Companion to the Most Celebrated Private Galleries of Art in London, no. 13 pp. 301-302
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio; Rossella Vodret Adamo; Museo di Palazzo Venezia, Caravaggio's Rome: 1600-1630, p. 290
Oregon Journal,
Rowlands, Eliot W., The Collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Italian Paintings 1300-1800, no. 30
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 41
Walker Art Gallery, Foreign Schools Catalogue, p. 163
Simon, R., Discoveries . . . in Una Nuova Luce, pp. 45-49
Campori, Giuseppe, Raccolta di cataloghi ed inventarii inediti, p. 205
Francillon, Timothée, Lanzi, Luigi, Traduction abrégée de la Storia pittorica della Italia de l'Abbé Lanzi, p. 244
Seletsky, Robert E., Early Music, fig. 1 pp. 286-287
Scannelli, Francesco, Il microcosmo della pittura, p. 354
Pergola, P. della, Arte antica e moderna, no. 238 p. 454
Guido Reni 1575-1642, no. 10 p. 185
Ambrose, S. E., Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures Belonging to the Marquess of Lansdowne, K. G. at Lansdowne House, London and Bowood, Wilts, no. 29 p. 26
Laclotte, Michel, Curiosité. Études d'histoire de l'art en l'honneur d'Antoine Schnapper, p. 420
Mirimonde, Albert P. de, Sainte-Cécile: Métamorphoses d'un thème musical, pl. 128
Captured Emotion: Baroque Painting in Bologna, 1575-1728, pl. 24 p. 72
Bellori, Giovanni Pietro, Le vite inediti di G. P. Bellori, p. 12
Pérez Sánchez, Alfonse E., Pintura italiana del s. XVII en España, p. 181
Ebert-Schiffer, Sybille; Andrea Emiliani, and Erich Schleier, Guido Reni e l'Europa: Fama e Fortuna, fig. 14 pp. 179, 180
Kurz, Otto, Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien, p. 214
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 976 p. 358
McCorquodale, The Baroque Painters of Italy, pp. 34, 37
Audio Tour
English | Español
Audio Tour Transcript
English | Español
English | Español
Transcripción de Audioguía
English | Español

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via the reproduction request form.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Reproduction Request Form