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35

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Giovanni Battista Gaulli, called Il Baciccio
CHRIST AND THE VIRGIN WITH SAINT NICHOLAS OF BARI
Estimate
50,00070,000
LOT SOLD. 112,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
35

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Giovanni Battista Gaulli, called Il Baciccio
CHRIST AND THE VIRGIN WITH SAINT NICHOLAS OF BARI
Estimate
50,00070,000
LOT SOLD. 112,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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Giovanni Battista Gaulli, called Il Baciccio
GENOA 1639 - 1709 ROME
CHRIST AND THE VIRGIN WITH SAINT NICHOLAS OF BARI
Pen and brown ink and shades of grey wash, over black chalk, squared in black chalk, within chalk framing lines
417 by 247 mm
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Sale, Vienna, Dorotheum, 13 April 2005, lot 45;
sale, London, Christie's, 8 July 2008, lot 38;
sale, New York, Sotheby's, 26 January 2011, lot 539;
with Jean-Luc Baroni, London,
from whom acquired by the present owner


Literature

F. Petrucci, Baciccio: Giovanni Battista Gaulli 1639-1709, Rome 2009, p. 549, no. C.23.2, reproduced

Catalogue Note

This handsome and highly pictorial sheet is one of Gaulli's final studies for the altarpiece commissioned by the Genoese banker Paolo Girolamo Torri, to decorate the altar of his chapel, in the Roman church of Santa Maria Maddalena (fig. 1).  The chapel was built between 1694 and 1696, on the church’s left transept.  The altarpiece, still in situ, was executed between 1697 and 1698.  The present drawing, typical of Gaulli's animated and energetic penmanship, is, like the altarpiece, in a fairly elongated vertical format, but there are certain differences from the final composition: the crozier and crown of St. Nicholas are yet not included, and the saint’s pose, and also that of the Madonna, are slightly different from their painted counterparts.  There are also variations in the putti to the left, which in the painting have become kneeling angels.  

 

As Macandrew and Graf noted, Gaulli frequently changed his mind while developing his compositions, and even the presence, as here, of squaring on a drawing is no proof that the design was irrevocably fixed, and would be followed in the final painting.1 The artist’s particular working method is often witnessed by a succession of preparatory studies, and explains the many changes and alterations that can often be seen in even apparently very finished drawings by the artist.  

 

In the case of the present sheet, this working method is illustrated by the existence of another elaborate compositional drawing, sold in New York in 2011 and now in a private collection, where although the format is slightly wider, the Madonna and the St. Nicholas are in the same positions as in the final painted work.2  All the same, in comparison to that drawing, the present sheet appears to be more finished, and less of a working study, so it is not easy to say which drawing must have been made first.  In any case, both sheets are important documents of Gaulli's working method, and of the artist's imaginative and lively artistic mind, always in search of better solutions for his compositions.  Other studies for the painting are in Düsseldorf and Oxford, and an oil modello, formerly in Palazzo Ruspoli, Nemi, is in the collection of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Rome.3

The subject, an unusual one, has been elucidated by Robert Engass.4  St. Nicholas, at the Council of Nicaea in 325, condemned the Arians, provoking the members of the Council to take away the symbols of his office.  The Virgin, however, approving of his defence of the Trinity, miraculously restored them to him.

1. H. Macandrew and D. Graf, ‘Baciccio's Later Drawings, A rediscovered group acquired by the Ashmolean Museum,' Master Drawings,vol. X, no. 3, 1972, p. 235

2. Sale, New York, Sotheby's, 26 January 2011, lot 545; Petrucci, op. cit., p. 549, no. C.23.1, reproduced

3. For a detailed account of the drawings, see: K. Wolfe, in Giovan Battista Gaulli Il Baciccio 1639-1709, exhib. cat., Ariccia, Palazzo Chigi, 1999-2000, p. 179, under no. 39 (the oil modello).

4. Robert Engass, The Painting of Baciccio, University Park 1964, p. 96

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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