Lot 238
  • 238

Jacopo Zanguidi, called Il Bertoia

14,000 - 18,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Jacopo Zanguidi, called Il Bertoia
  • The Creation of Eve
  • Black chalk over stylus;
    bears old attribution in pen and brown ink: Parmigiano and on the verso in pen and brown ink, partly covered by a modern hinge: Parmig...


Dr. and Mrs. Hugh Squire, 
their sale, London, Sotheby's, 28 June 1979, lot 56, purchased by Ralph Holland


Newcastle, 1982, p. 4, no. 15, reproduced pl. III B


D. DeGrazia, Bertoia, Mirola and the Farnese Court, Bologna 1991, p. 120, no. D33, reproduced fig. 193; p. 125, under no. D50 and p. 128, under no. D61

Catalogue Note

This is a preparatory study for The Creation of Eve, part of the decorative scheme of the Stanza dei Sogni in the Palazzo Farnese at Caprarola (fig. 1).  As was noted in the 1979 sale catalogue, this connection was first suggested by A.E. Popham.  The Stanza dei Sogni, frescoed by Bertoia circa 1570-71, is located in the winter apartments of the piano nobile and was probably used as a bedroom.  Its entire decoration is based on the depiction of various dreams from the Old Testament.  As Diane DeGrazia suggested (loc. cit.), it is likely that the Holland drawing is the second of three known studies by Bertoia for the same composition.  The first, in the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, is very much a preliminary thought, in an oval, with the figure of God the Father descending towards Eve, surrounded by several angels and putti.1  Bertoia at first must have conceived this scene in an oval format but later changed it to a circular one.  In the final study in Christ Church, Oxford, which is the closest to the fresco, the arrangement of the figures is very similar to the present drawing. In the Holland study Bertoia has focussed on the three main figures and their immediate surroundings.  Below the figure of Adam the slight indication of an oval shaped scene is further evidence of the connection to this exquisite room at Caprarola. 

Diane DeGrazia, writing about the present drawing, stresses the similarity between the pose of the figure of Adam and the early studies for Jacob asleep,3 preparatory for the central oval fresco of Jacob's Dream in the vaulted ceiling of the same room.  This large and elongated oval dominates the centre of the vault, while at the corners are four roundels: The Creation of Eve, Elijah in the Wilderness, Nebuchadnezzar's Dream of the Tree and Joseph's Dreams.  Other dreams, in rectangular frescoes flanked by small landscapes, are represented in the four lunettes which complete the ceiling.4   From a letter dated July 1570, in which Alessandro Farnese expressed his gratitude to Cardinal Guglielmo Sirleto, it appears that he was probably responsible for the choice of these familiar stories from the Old Testament.Around each of the scenes, Bertoia devised an elaborate and sumptuous decoration with colourful grottesche, and white and gold stucco cornices reminiscent of both Ancient and Renaissance Rome. 

The handsome and still well preserved Palazzo Farnese at Caprarola is one of the most elaborate and luxurious 16th century palaces outside Rome.  It was begun in 1559 by Giacomo Vignola for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, over the unfinished fortress started by Paul III Farnese (1534-1549) before his pontificate.  After the death of Taddeo Zuccaro in 1566, Federico Zuccaro briefly directed the cantiere of Caprarola but he was soon dismissed by Alessandro Farnese and replaced by Bertoia who was hired as capomaestro in 1569.  At his death, the direction passed to Giovanni de' Vecchi.  

Bertoia was solely responsible for designing and executing the decorative scheme of the entire Stanza dei Sogni and all the preparatory studies which survive are from his hand.The decoration and execution of the room is highly sophisticated and its colouring of a palette that could only be achieved by the grace and skill of a Parmese artist.

1.  DeGrazia, op.cit., p. 120, under no. D33, reproduced fig. 194
2.  Ibid., p. 128, no. D61, reproduced fig. 195
3.  Ibid., figs. 185, 187 and 190, the last of these sold London, Sotheby's, 4 July 1994, lot 62
4.  Ibid., p. 78, no. P4 
5.  Ibid., p. 78 and p. 80, note 12.  Guglielmo Sirleto (1514-1585), an influential cleric and an erudite scholar, was created cardinal in 1565 at the request of Carlo Borromeo.  He became bishop of San Marco in Calabria in 1566, and bishop of Squillace in 1568.  In 1570 he was nominated librarian of the Vatican Library which he enriched with many valuable texts.
6.  For a listing of the preparatory drawings for the Stanza dei Sogni, see DeGrazia, op.cit., p. 78