Lot 27
  • 27

Fabrizio Boschi

45,000 - 60,000 GBP
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  • Fabrizio Boschi
  • st. lucy before the magistrate
  • Red chalk and wash heightened with white, squared in black chalk;
    bears numbering in pencil: 106; in pen and brown ink lower right: 121


Laid down . All around a pen and brown ink framing line. Overall fresh and in quite good condition. Small losses: two on the left margin and one at the lower margin. Slight rubbing at the corners and two small tears to the right margin at the level of the statue of Jupiter. Surface dirt and a few tiny stains scattered on the sheet. Sold unframed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This handsome sheet was first attributed to Boschi by Catherine Monbeig Goguel. It is a splendid example of his qualities as a draughtsman, and of his great skill in the use of red chalk and red wash, a medium that he particularly favoured.  Catherine Monbeig Goguel, who studied the drawing in the original, has pointed out the close stylistic similarity between this drawing and Boschi's painting The Gathering of the Manna,1 which is signed with the artist's monogram and is an early work, datable to the last decade of the 16th century.  In the catalogue of the 2006 Boschi exhibition, Riccardo Spinelli stressed the rarity of works surviving from this early period when Boschi appears already to be an accomplished painter.  The present drawing shows a very similar treatment of the figures, which dominate the scene, in the rectangular and crowded composition. The figure of Saint Lucy compares closely in type and pose with the woman who stands holding out her tunic to catch the falling manna.  Therefore the drawing can plausibly be dated to the same period as the painting.  In 1597 Boschi worked for the convent of the Dominican nuns of St. Lucy in the via San Gallo, Florence.  He painted the central altarpiece for the convent church, The Assumption of the Virgin with Saints.2   The Florentine biographer Baldinucci, who describes that altarpiece in his life of Boschi, writes: 'Nella parte bassa della tavola è la santa martire Lucia, titolare della chiesa, col segno di suo martirio'.  Although it is unlikely that such an elaborate scene could have been painted below the Assumption, it is possible that this impressive composition, vaguely reminiscent of the one by Lorenzo Lotto, was done in relation to a commission from the nuns of the Dominican convent, now destroyed. 

Fabrizio Boschi was a talented artist and as a young man joined the bottega of Passignano.  He soon distinguished himself by taking part, with many of the other important artistic figures of the time (Cigoli, Santi di Tito, Poccetti, Boscoli, Empoli, et al.), in the creation of the ephemeral decorations for the marriage of the Grand Duke Ferdinando I and Cristina of Lorraine in 1589.  The following year Boschi was chosen as 'festaiolo per San Lucha', an important honour and an opportunity only given to talented artists, active in Florence.4

This sheet is a great addition to the corpus of the artist's drawings, and shows Boschi's ability in creating, at an early stage in his career, a successful and elaborate composition enriched by many details.  Riccardo Spinelli, having seen the drawing in the original, confirms the attribution to Boschi but has suggested a later dating to the middle of the second decade of the 17th century.

1. Gallerie fiorentine, on loan to the Comando Interregionale della Guardia di Finanza per l'Italia centro-settentrionale; see Fabrizio Boschi (1572-1642), exhib. cat., Florence, Casa Buonarroti, 2006, p. 66, no. 2, reproduced p. 67
2. Ibid., p. 16, reproduced fig. 3
3. Filippo Baldinucci, Delle Notizie de' Professori del Disegno da Cimabue in quà, ed. F. Ranalli 1846, reprint Florence 1974-75, vol. III, p. 640
4. For the festival of San Luca, on the 18 October, both well-known artists and newly admitted ones were engaged in decorations to celebrate the patron saint of the Accademia del disegno