Very typical of Pietro da Cortona's vigorous use of the red chalk, both recto
of the present sheet can been associated with Cortona's painting of the Triumph of Bacchus
(fig. 1), now in the Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome.1
In fact, this study could be a first idea for the figure of a reclining woman in the lower right corner of the painting, although the there she is reversed, and is accompanied by a young faun playing, instead of a sleeping child. A full compositional study by Cortona, in the Albertina,2
preparatory for the Capitoline painting, shows that the artist made extensive and significant changes during the process of preparing this elaborate composition. Even the main figure of the triumphant Bacchus appears reversed in the final painting, and in a rather different pose. Also, the urn 'all'antica'
drawn on the verso
can be found, in a more ornate version, to extreme right of the painting, just behind the reclining female figure.
Typical of the graphic style of Pietro da Cortona, the present sheet must date from around the 1630s. The exact dating of the painting is uncertain, but it appears to have been executed before 1639, when a representation of the subject, apparently this one, was listed in the inventory of the Sacchetti collection.
1. Rome, Pinacoteca Capitolina, inv. no. 58
2. Vienna, Albertina, inv. no. 893; see V. Birke and J. Kertész, Die Italienischen Zeichnungen der Albertina, Vienna/Cologne/Weimar 1997, vol. I, p. 463, reproduced