Mattia Jona, Master Drawings and Prints, Japanese Prints - Piazzetta Guastalla 5, 20122 Milan, Italy, tel (+39) 02 8053315

Alessandro Magnasco, male Saint adoring the Crucifix


Red chalk and pen with brown ink, 211 x 155 mm. On the verso a light sketch, in reverse, for half figure of the Saint on the recto.
I attribute here the drawing to Alessandro Magnasco, with a quite early dating (late seventeenth century, beginning of the eighteenth). There are strong similarities with relatively early drawings in red chalk as in pen and red chalk. See, for example, the drawing offered at Christie's, Rome, in May 1986 (Disegni dal XVI al XX secolo, lot 562, red chalk, 184x143 mm.)
Moreover, the young page that holds the tiara is very similar, in reverse, to the page near Theodosius in the painting Theodosius Repulsed from the Church by Saint Ambrose, in the the Art Institute of Chicago, an example of painting by Magnasco at the change of the centuries, still strongly influenced by Genoese baroque painting.
According the manuscript notes written on the mount by a previous anonymous owner, our drawing was sold at Sotheby's, Florence, in 1979, as Bolognese School. On the mount are also recorded two attributions: to Piazzetta and to Sebastiano Ricci. The latter is meaningful. In fact the drawing presents concordances in handling and also in the composition with drawings and paintings by Ricci, whose contacts and friendship with Magnasco began in Milan at the end of the XVII century.

Alessandro Magnasco was born in Genoa to a painter father who died when he was a child. As a young man he went to Milan where he joined the workshop of Filippo Abbiati. In 1703 he was employed by the grand duke in Florence, where he remained for six years before returning to Milan. In Florence he was influenced by the pittura caricata e giocosa of Jacques Callot, Salvator Rosa and Giandomenico Ferretti, and he specialized in supplying figures for other painters' landscapes to make money. Subsequently, he became very successful and remained until 1735. Magnasco spent the last fourteen years of his life in his native Genoa.


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