72
72
Giovanni David
A NIGHTMARE
Estimate
14,00018,000
LOT SOLD. 43,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
72
Giovanni David
A NIGHTMARE
Estimate
14,00018,000
LOT SOLD. 43,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

|
London

Giovanni David
CABELLA 1743 - 1790 GENOA
A NIGHTMARE
Pen and black and grey ink with grey and brown wash, heightened with white and yellow, over black chalk, set within a fictive mount, drawn with a blue wash border and black ink framing lines
236 by 306 mm
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Sale, Milan, Sotheby's, 8 May 2001, lot 435;
with Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd., London and New York, Master Drawings, 2002, no. 27
Private collection

Literature

A. Cera, ed., Disegni, acquarelli, tempere di artisti italiani dal 1770 al 1830 ca., Bologna 2002, Vol.I, unpaginated, no. 7;
M. Newcome Schleier and G. Grasso, Giovanni David: Pittore e incisore della famiglia Durazzo, Turin 2003, p.52, no. D20;
A. Lafont, ‘Genova alle origini del romanticismo francese: Girodet e Gros in Italia’, in Piero Boccardo, Clario Di Fabio and Philippe Sénéchal, ed., Genova e l’Europa: Opere, artisti, committenti, collezionisti, Cinisello, Balsamo 2003, p.251, fig.11;
C. S. Ackley, ‘Master drawings from the collection of Horace Wood Brock’, The Magazine Antiques, February 2009, p.55, illustrated p.53, fig.2

Catalogue Note

Giovanni David was supported throughout his career by the Genoese diplomat Giacomo Durazzo, in exchange for privileged access to his work.  His patron's broad interests enabled David to travel extensively, to England, Holland and France, and also to work in a wide variety of media: not just drawings, but prints, stage designs, wax sculptures and paintings in oil and fresco.  Durazzo also ensured that David studied in the early 1770s under Domenico Corvi in Rome, where he went on to receive a prize in painting at the Accademia di San Luca in 1775.1  

The present drawing depicts the entrance to Hades, the underworld.  Death is represented by the skeleton to the left of the composition, who holds the brazier from which the bare-chested woman lights her torch.   The nightmare intensifies as a winged demon hovers over the central female figure, holding thunderbolts and snakes in his hands.  To the upper left sits King Minos, judge of the dead, who is accompanied by the three-headed dog Cerberus.  To the right of the composition are the three fates, who in turn all handle the thread of human life.

This is an imaginative and ambitious composition demonstrating David's immense creative powers.  Stylistically, it can be compared to another highly finished drawing, An allegorical scene, in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which also includes the skeletal figure of death and the three fates.2

1. M. Newcome, 'Drawings by Giovanni David' in Master Drawings, 1993, vol. 31, no. 4, p. 469

2. Inv. no. 1978-62-2; Newcome, op.cit., fig. 4

Old Master & British Works on Paper

|
London