Friday, October 20, 2017

Fourteen 17th-century Graphic Artists of Europe

Isaac Oliver
Moses striking the rock
ca. 1600
drawing
Royal Collection,  Windsor

"Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.  And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.  And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!  And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?  And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place?  it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.  And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.  And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.  And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?  And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also."

 from the book of Numbers, chapter 20, in the Authorized or King James version of the Bible (1611)

attributed to Agostino Ciampelli
Young woman seated on the ground
ca. 1600
drawing
Royal Collection, Windsor

Leendert van der Cooghen
St Bavo
1662
drawing
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

follower of Daniele Crespi
St Sebastian attended by holy women
1622
drawing
Prado, Madrid

Abraham Bloemaert
Adoration of the Magi
1624
drawing
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

Willem Basse after Titian
Virgin and Child with Saints
ca. 1628-48
etching
British Museum

Carlo Maratti
Assumption of the Virgin
ca. 1645-55
drawing
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Simone Cantarini
Baptism of Christ
before 1648
drawing
Prado, Madrid

Herman van Swanevelt
Winding mountain road with travelers
ca. 1650-55
drawing
Royal Collection, Windsor 

Giovanni Coli
Inspiration of St Mark
ca. 1651-81
drawing in blue wash
British Museum

"The subject of the drawing is the Evangelist St. Mark writing his gospel.  In front of the figure are his crozier, mitre and cope, symbols of his office as first Archbishop of Alexandria, while his lion appears at his side.  That he was previously identified as St. Jerome, who is frequently accompanied by a lion, is understandable, since the lion in the drawing is not winged, as he usually is in other representations of St. Mark.  However, the symbols of office rule out such an identification, since St. Jerome was a cardinal and not an archbishop.  Moreover, St. Jerome is rarely shown in such intense communication with the Holy Spirit.  St. Mark was the patron saint of Venice, and a Venetian subject is not surprising in the oeuvre of Coli, who together with Filippo Gherardi was active in Venice in the years 1662-69."

 Nicholas Turner, from Italian Drawings in the British Museum: Roman Baroque Drawings, ca. 1620-ca. 1700 (British Museum Press, 1999)

attributed to Alessandro Algardi
Study for liturgical vessel
before 1654
drawing
Royal Collection, Windsor

Bartolomeo Biscaino
Holy Family with St John the Baptist
before 1657
drawing
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Salvator Rosa
Studies for the Death of Empedocles
ca. 1666-73
drawing
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

"This drawings is a splendid account of the philosopher Empedocles throwing himself into the crater of the volcano Etna as described in the writings of the poet Diogenes Laërtius.  . . .  Empedocles hoped that vanishing without a trace from the top of the volcano would make people believe that he had been raised up to join the Olympian gods.  He did, however, prove a common mortal when the volcano spat out one of his sandals."

 curator's notes from Statens Museum for Kunst

Giacinto Brandi
Figures seeking refuge from the Deluge
before 1691
drawing
British Museum

Views of Rome

Giacomo Brogi
Rome - Castel Sant'Angelo, with dome of St Peter's in the distance
ca. 1856-81
albumen silver print
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Castel Sant'Angelo
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

Giacomo Brogi
Rome - Colosseum
ca. 1856-81
albumen silver print
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Colosseum
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

MUSEUM

See how the knife rests,
how it reigns there
in its glass case,
free from the soldier's hand.

And how unchanging the statue is.
Feel how far  from this bulging brow,
from the shadows
of this wooden cheek 
the model is.

How I too would like
to go out in the light
of the thing that remains,
having been.

 by Umberto Fiori (b. 1949), translated by Geoffrey Brock

Tommaso Cuccioni
Rome - Pantheon
(with added bell towers, soon to be removal)

ca. 1860
albumen silver print
National Gallery of Canada

Raphael
Rome - Interior of the Pantheon
ca. 1506
drawing
Cabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, Florence

Alinari & Cook
Rome - Interior of the Pantheon
ca. 1890
albumen silver print
National Gallery of Canada

Tommaso Cuccioni
Rome - Palazzo Farnese
ca. 1860-75
albumen silver print
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Rome - San Michele dei Frisoni with St. Peter's behind
1932
lithograph
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Colonnade of St Peter's
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

James Anderson
Rome - Fountain at the Villa Medici
ca. 1865
albumen silver print
National Gallery of Canada

IN THE PALM OF MY RIGHT HAND

in the palm of my right hand
I hold a man without a head
and his sky-blue car

in the palm of my left hand
I hold a small pool of water fringed
with elderberry bushes and yellow reeds

when I press my hands together
I put the headless man
and his sky-blue car

into the small pool
with the tall elderberry bushes
and yellow reeds

 by Dacia Maraini (b. 1936), translated by Martha Collins

Arthur Severn
Rome - Sketch in the Forum
ca. 1860-90
chalk and gouache
National Gallery of Canada

Giacomo Brogi
Rome - Spanish Steps
ca. 1856-81
albumen silver print
National Gallery of Canada

Richard Wilson
Rome from the Villa Madama
ca. 1765
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Canada

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Nocturnal Rome

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Church Domes
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Trajan's Column
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Santa Francesca Romana
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

ROME

You lived through two great epochs, proud capital.
The emperors adorned you, and the popes;
And all roads led to you, and all men heard of your glory
And bowed to your power;
And you borrowed the robes of beauty
And crowned yourself queen of the world.

Then Bernini came
And over you flourished his wand.
And straightway coiled and knotted draperies covered you
In volutes and curlycues.
Your jewels he bartered for paste,
Your brocades for shoddy,
And all his baroque followers made a mock of your beauty
With bombastic outcries and gesticulations.
Then at last, only yesterday,
Came young Italy to crown your dishonor
With her enormous and too-imperishable Monument.

Yet still, under the stuffs and the uproar,
One may rediscover your majesty 
In marble ruins,
And stern old medieval churches,
And renaissance pictures done in the grand style.

by Harriet Monroe (1860-1936), published in 1929 in Poetry, the magazine she founded and edited. Despite their self-image as arts revolutionaries, pioneer Modernists like Monroe carried forward a good deal of Victorian aesthetic baggage. Sneering at the Roman Baroque had become a dead cliche by the time Monroe was putting it on paper in the Twenties. But she was not wrong about one thing (and one that has never been disputed by anybody)  i.e., the stupefying ugliness of the Victor Emanuel II Monument at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, began in 1911 and completed in 1925.

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Dioscuro, Pollux, Piazza del Campidoglio
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Santa Maria del Popolo, Piazza del Popolo
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Small Churches, Piazza Venezia
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Rome - Between St Peter's and the Sistine Chapel
1936
lithograph
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Rome 
1927
woodcut
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Still-life and Street
1937
woodcut
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Sicily - Cave Dwellings near Sperlinga
1933
woodcut
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Sicily - Temple of Segesta
1932
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Sicily - Selinunte
1935
woodcut
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Sicily - House in lava near Nunziata
1936
lithograph
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Sicily - Mummified Priests in Gangi
1932
lithograph
National Gallery of Canada

Late 17th-century / Early 18th-century European Drawings

Giulio Benso
Abduction of the Sabine women
before 1665
drawing
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Giulio Benso
Adoration of the Shepherds
before 1665
drawing
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Andrea Pozzo
Religion assisted by Virtues, pointing to the portrait of Vittorio Amedeo II, Duke of Savoy
1680s
drawing for engraving
British Museum

"According to the writer of the inscription, whose identity remains unknown, the drawing was sent from Rome by Francesco Maria Guelfi (1659-1744), a member of the novitiate of S. Andrea al Quirinale, who, like Andrea Pozzo himself, was a Jesuit.  It is an early preparatory study, in reverse and with minor differences, for the print engraved to a larger scale by Georges Tasnière (d. 1704), a French engraver who worked extensively for the House of Savoy.  . . .  The finished composition shows Painting, accompanied by a putto or genius, at work on a portrait of the young Duke Vittorio Amedeo II (1666-1732), whose likeness she takes from that of his ancestor, the Blessed Amedeo IX, Duke of Savoy, who died in 1472.  Watching Painting from nearby are Faith, Hope and Charity, with Justice, Fortitude and Prudence a little in the distance.  Among the principal differences between drawing and print are the appearance in the latter of two putti in the lower left (corresponding in position to the empty space in the lower right of the drawing) holding a tablet containing the coat of arms of Francesco Gonteri, who had commissioned the print; and of a further female allegory, lower right."

"As Giuseppe Dardanello has observed, the print is a thinly veiled piece of flattery of the then regent Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoy, the young Duke's mother, who features as Religion in the composition.  Indeed, the 'Allegory' alludes to her government's cultivation of the arts and literature as well as her promotion of her family's interests.  Vittorio Amedeo II was only nine years old when, on 12 June 1675, he succeeded to the duchy at the death of his father, Carlo Emmanuele II.  Maria Giovanna Battista's regency was characterised by her detestation of France and a desire to encourage in her son the pursuit of pleasure so that she might extend her own power at his expense.  He eventually resisted this strategy and in due course took on the government of his own lands himself, becoming King of Sicily and Sardinia in 1713 and 1720, respectively.  The date "1688" on the inscription may not necessarily indicate the date of the drawing itself."

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
St Jerome writing in the wilderness
before 1670
drawing
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Carlo Maratti
Death of St Francis Xavier
ca. 1675
drawing for Gesù altarpiece
British Museum

"This is an early compositional study for Maratti's altarpiece in the Gesù, Rome (chapel in the right transept) commissioned by Padre (later Cardinal) Giovanni Francesco Negroni in 1674, but completed only in 1679.  The drawing and the painted altarpiece have few characteristics in common beyond their tall, somewhat narrow format, which would have been dictated from the start by Pietro da Cortona's altar design, conceived in the last year of his life.  Yet despite such significant discrepancies, Schaar argued persuasively for a firm connection between the painting and the drawing, in accordance with the early inscription at the bottom of the sheet.  It is likely, as Schaar pointed out, that the drawing was executed at a very early stage in the design process, prior to Andrea Carlone's involvement in the chapel decoration from July 1674, taking responsibility for the vault that was to have been assigned to Gaulli.  This can be deduced from the appearance of Christ in the sky, whose figure, subsequently incorporated in the programme of Carlone's frescoed vault showing the coronation of the saint by the Trinity, is not present in later compositional sketches or in the altarpiece itself.  In two intermediate compositional sketches, in the Accademia de San Fernando, Madrid and in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, the figure of Christ has been substituted by an image of the saint himself, being carried heavenward by angels.  In two further drawings, again in the Accademia de San Fernando, Madrid and in the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf this motif has, in its turn, been replaced by putti and angels scattering flowers, as in the finished painting.  Presumably this change was effected after it was decided to sculpt, in stucco relief sited between the broken pediments of the elaborate frame, an effigy of the saint in glory in the process of making his way heavenward, thereby avoiding the need to duplicate this motif in the altarpiece itself.  Another compositional study exists in the Biblioteca National, Madrid, apparently showing the saint lying on the right, as in the British Museum drawing."


Francesco Cozza
Triumph of the Blessed Juan de Sahagún
before 1682
drawing
British Museum

"The attribution to Cozza was first proposed by Dr. Erich Schleier, and is supported by the drawing's resemblance in style to the few surviving studies certainly by the artist and by the similarity of the group of the Trinity to that in Cozza's painting of the 'Holy Woman Martyrs' in the Berlin Gallery.  The identification of the subject as the fifteenth-century Spanish Benedictine saint Juan de Sahagún is due to Dr. Jennifer Montagu.  Juan de Sahagún, or Giovanni di S. Facondon was born in Sahagún (León, Spain) before 1430, transferring to Salamanca in the 1450s, where he died in 1479; he was beatified in 1601 and canonised in 1691.  The Blessed Juan de Sahagún is represented in the drawing with his many attributes: the chalice and host symbolise his extraordinary devotion to the Eucharist; the Demon of Discord at his feet, accompanied by the discarded arms lying on the ground, allude to the civil disturbances in Salamanca which he helped to quell; the belt he is undoing from his waist is an allusion to his rescuing a boy from a well by hoisting him up with his belt; and the woman running in the background, holding a cup with a serpent inside it and putting a finger to her lips, is the woman of loose morals from whom he was able to detach a nobleman and who, in revenge, gave him a slow poison, from which he died.  This violent death seems to justify the martyr's palm held by one of the angels at upper right; the other holds a lily, presumably referring to his chastity.  From the drawing's painstaking finish, and from the blank space beneath it, which was probably intended to carry an inscription, it seems likely that the drawing was made for a print, though no such print has yet been identified. 

Claude Lorrain
Forge of Vulcan with three cyclops-workers and Vulcan on a throne - scene from the Aeneid
before 1682
drawing
British Museum

Paolo Gerolamo Piola
Rest on the Flight into Egypt
ca. 1690-94
wash drawing
Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas

Pietro Lucatelli
St Alexander of Bergamo and St Bartholomew
ca. 1690-97
drawing
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Filippo Lauri
Monk ordering destruction of pagan statues
before 1690
drawing
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Giuseppe Passeri
David and Abigail
ca. 1670-1700
drawing
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Giuseppe Passeri
Assumption of the Virgin
ca. 1686
drawing
British Museum

"This is a preparatory study for a print, in the same direction, by Arnold van Westerhout (1651-1725).  The composition of the present drawing is based on two earlier painted versions of the subject by Passeri.  One, datable 1686, is a fresco, in square format, in S. Maria in Aracoeli, Rome, and shows the Virgin almost full face, with two angels to the left particularly similar in pose to their counterparts in the later, engraved version.  The second is an upright rectangular canvas of approximately the same date as the fresco, in the Pinacoteca Comunale, Rimini, in which the Virgin turns to the right, as in the engraving.  In each step, from fresco to painting to engraving, the composition was simplified and the number of putti and angels reduced."

Giuseppe Passeri
Christ driving money-changers from the temple
ca. 1710
drawing
Royal Collection, Windsor

Giuseppe Passeri
Angel appearing to Hagar and Ishmael
before 1714
drawing
British Museum

 notes on the drawings are by Nicholas Turner, from Italian Drawings in the British Museum: Roman Baroque Drawings, ca. 1620-ca. 1700 (British Museum Press, 1999)