Mattia Jona La Portantina +39 02 8053315

(Genoa 1639 - Rome 1709)

Red chalk, heightened with white, on beige paper, 435 x 293 mm.
PROVENANCE: Luigi Grassi (Rome 1913-1994) Lugt 4465; Mela collection, Florence.
The main study in this drawing, the half-length male figure, is connected with the figure of Christ as appears in a group of four drawings by Baciccio in the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf. See D. Graf, Die Handzeichnungen von Guglielmo Cortese und Giovanni Battista Gaulli, Düsseldorf 1976; nos 458-461. This is quite evident comparing our with one of these drawings: the large standing figure of Christ in pen and grey wash. The comparison also shows that the two studies for a left hand under the arm of the man are both related with the hand of Christ bearing the cross.
The four drawings in Düsseldorf, dated circa 1685 by Dieter Graf, are to be related to the depiction of the subject Domine, Quo Vadis, but I do not know a pictorial realization of them. A painting by Gaulli of this subject is known, but dating from the mid-seventies and different in composition. (see: F. Petrucci, Baciccio: Giovan Battista Gaulli 1639-1709, Rome, 2009, no. D30, p. 582).
A few remarks about the other studies of hands that appear on the sheet. The pair of hands at bottom left are possibly connected, as Vittorio Azzoni kindly suggested, with the portrait of monsignor Giuseppe Renato Imperiali, ca. 1686 (see: F. Petrucci, op. cit, no. A69, p. 436). The left hand drawn on the top of the sheet is just a variant study for the left hand at bottom.
It seems to me that our drawing compares very well with other published sheets of studies in red chalk touched with white, which are all similar for dimensions, technique and for the handling of chalk, with a sober use of sfumato. See M. Fagiolo dell'Arco, D. Graf, F. Petrucci, Giovanni Battista Gaulli detto il Baciccio, catalogue of the exhibition in Ariccia, 1999: nos. 65a and 65b (tav. 4 and 5). See also F. Petrucci, Baciccio, Rome, 2009; nos. B.12.1, B.12.2, B.12.3, B.13.1, B.16.1, B.16.2, C.15.1, D.66.11 (all illustrated).
I compare here our drawing with two of those drawings, dating to the eighties and nineties.

Price: 7.800,00 €

Born in Genoa, Gaulli in 1657 moved to Rome, eventually becoming Gianlorenzo Bernini's protégé. He was accepted as a member of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1662, and the next year he received his first public commission, for an altarpiece in the church of San Rocco. In 1672, Gaulli was awarded the prestigious commission for decorating the interior of the Jesuit church of Il Gesù in Rome; the ceiling fresco, illustrating the Triumph of the Name of Jesus (1678-79), is a masterpiece of High Baroque illusionism and theatricality. Gaulli received many ecclesiastical commissions for decorative cycles and altarpieces. He also painted portraits and mythological and religious works for private patrons, among whom were several popes. Early works by the artist show his Genoese heritage in their broad, painterly manner and warm, dark palette. Gaulli also experimented with Bolognese classicism in the 1660s. In his later years, he moved away from the grandeur of the High Baroque towards a more classical style. Many drawings by the artist have survived, in a wide range of media; almost all are studies for paintings.