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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Roman Elephant

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) worked hard for most of the 17th century embellishing Roman public spaces with monuments, fountains and other three-dimensional flourishes. When the Pope wanted a fresh way to display an ancient obelisk, Bernini figured out how.

Yet the artist's self portrait in old age suggests something like self-doubt, or perhaps regret. Given his remarkable energy and ambition, Bernini must have found it difficult to watch his powers wane.

In the Bernini portfolios preserved as part of the Royal Collection, these design sketches for Roman fountains alternate with baroque angels and studio nudes  everything unified by the same audacious hand.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Three Bathers Surprised by a Monster

Three Bathers Surprised by a Monster
c. 1621-23

After the tenderness of yesterday's red chalk drawings by Guercino, the ink-and-wash sketches look extravagant. These are part of a large group by Guercino brought together by George III in the middle of the 18th century and preserved to this day in the Royal Collection.

Assassination of Amnon at the Feast of his Half-Brother Absalom

Assassination of Amnon at the Feast of his Half-Brother Absalom

Allegory of the Toll of Death

Alexander the Great Enjoining Secrecy on his Friend Hephaestion
c. 1631

Martyrdom of Saint James the Greater
c. 1627

Jupiter & Semele
c. 1625-26

Semiramis Receives a Messenger
c. 1645

Sophonisba with the Bowl of Poison
c. 1630

c. 1620

c. 1642

Youth in Contemplation
c. 1640-50

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Red Chalk


A collection of  drawings in red chalk by Guercino (1591-1666). He counted among the 17th century Italian painters I scarcely knew at all until experiencing the work directly, finding it scattered across Rome among churches and palaces and small museums.

Hundreds of the artist's drawings are preserved today in the Royal Collection, these among them.



Youth in Profile

Head of Youth

Man with Hat

Woman Looking Down

Woman Bating

Venus & Cupid

Dead Christ Supported by an Angel

Monday, December 15, 2014


Fantastic Landscape with Urn

St Catherine of Alexandria

Domenichino (1581-1641) was a generation younger than the Carraccis. He joined their Accademia in Bologna around the turn of the century and became the favorite pupil of Annibale Carracci, following him to Rome as an assistant on the great fresco projects there. Later, Domenichino would complete his own independent fresco cycles in 17th century Rome, and these would become objects of study for succeeding generations of artists. The great Poussin himself is known to have felt a particular respect and fondness for the painting of Domenichino.

Italian Landscape

Kneeling Figure

Figure with Javelin

Figure with Large Club

Half-length Figure

Bound Figure


Design for Base with Figures

Design for Candlestick Base

All drawings from the Royal Collection.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Carracci Collective

Drawings from the Royal Collection firmly attributed to the three Carracci and their Academy but not identified with an individual artist.