Both of these fine sheets appear to relate to an important commission given to Roncalli by Orazio Rucellai in circa 1603/1604, to decorate his newly constructed family chapel, in Sant'Andrea della Valle, Rome. The decoration, which included four lateral walls, four pendentives and a cupola, also consisted of an altarpiece depicting The Archangel Michael vanquishing the Rebel Angels, for which the present drawing and the one in the Uffizi, both posed in the same manner as the Archangel, must surely be considered preparatory. Though the vast majority of the decorative cycle, including the altarpiece, was already severely deteriorating by the 18th Century, probably due in part to the fact that it seems to have been painted in oil on stucco, a record of the altarpiece is fortunately provided by an engraving, executed in 1618 by Philippe Thomassin (fig.1).
1. S. Prosperi Valenti Rodinò et al, Disegni dei Toscani a Roma (1580-1620), Florence 1979, p. 52, no. 29, fig. 34, reproduced
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