Lot 22
  • 22

Bernardo Strozzi

18,000 - 22,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Bernardo Strozzi
  • The Adoration of the Shepherds
  • Pen and brown ink

Catalogue Note

This previously unidentified study for an Adoration of the Shepherds is a rare example of the draftsmanship of Strozzi's early career.  It appears not to be related to any known painting, but it can be compared stylistically with a number of sheets by the artist.  The composition is very compact and the adoring figures are crowded around the Madonna and Child, separated only by a column in the background, just behind the Madonna's head.  Towards the top right of the composition is a monk, possibly a Capuchin, overlooking the scene - perhaps a subtle autobiographical reference, as around 1609 Strozzi abandoned his own monastic life in order to care for his mother and sister, supporting them all through his work as a painter. 

The drawing is characterized by a strong and vigorous use of the pen and ink, and almost the whole surface of the sheet is covered with an abundance of vertical lines, which not only define the volumes of the figures, but also suggest areas of light and shadow and fill the space around.  This use of strong parallel lines is evident in several sheets by Strozzi, including among others Children and small Angels dancing around the Christ Child, formerly in the collection of Janos Scholz and now in the Morgan Library,1 A group of figures around an altar, formerly in the collection of Jacques Petithory, now in the Musée Bonnat at Bayonne,2 Madonna and Child and St. John the Baptist and St. Nicholas and Justice, both in Palazzo Rosso in Genoa,3 The Vision of St. Dominic in the Schlossmuseum, Weimar.4 

From a digital image, Camillo Manzitti has kindly confirmed the attribution to Strozzi and proposed a dating of around 1615.

1. New York, Morgan Library, inv. no. 1981.101; see M. Newcome, 'Oil Sketches and drawings by Bernardo Strozzi,' Antichità Viva, XXXII, 1993, pp. 14-24

2. Bayonne, Musée Bonnat, inv. no. RF 50959; see La donation Jacques Petithory au musée Bonnat, Bayonne, exhib. cat., Paris, musée du Luxembourg, 1997, p. 274, no. 278, fig. 278

3. Genoa, Palazzo Rosso, inv. nos. D 2914, D2912; see Bernardo Strozzi, exhib. cat., Genoa, Palazzo Ducale, 1995, p. 284, no. 90, reproduced, p. 286, no. 92, reproduced

4. Weimar, Schlossmuseum, inv. no. KK9578; R. Cobianchi, 'Iconographic and visual sources for Bernardo Strozzi's Vision of St Dominic,' The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXL, 1998 (October), reproduced p. 672, fig. 22