Lot 117
  • 117

GIOVANNI BATTISTA PIRANESI | Study of a young man seated, seen in profile

18,000 - 22,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Piranesi, Giovanni Battista
  • Study of a young man seated, seen in profile
  • Black chalk
  • 130 by 114 mm; 5 1/8 by 4 1/2 in


Sale, London, Sotheby's, 4 July 1988, lot 79;
Private Collection, France;
sale, London, Sotheby's, "Master Drawings from a Distinguished European Collection", 6 July 2010, lot 52,
where acquired by the present owner

Catalogue Note

This quick sketch, probably a study from life, depicting a gentleman wearing a greatcoat, seated on a ladder-back chair, effortlessly captures the essence of the figure in Piranesi's energetic style. Hylton Thomas writes that these studies, whether in chalk or ink, reveal the artist's fascination with action and movement, as Piranesi looked to build up a repertory of figural motifs to be used whenever necessary. Indeed, such was Piranesi’s prolificacy and enthusiasm as a draughtsman that an early biographer, Jacques-Guillaume Legrand, recorded that the artist carried sheets of paper and chalk with him and sketched constantly in his spare moments, with many of these figure studies, such as the present work and lot 123, constituting some of the artist’s most attractive and spontaneous drawings.1

We are very grateful to Andrew Robison who has proposed a slightly earlier dating for the present work to the late 1740s. Robison relates our sheet to a red chalk drawing of A Man Writing, previously on the New York art market,2 noting that both works probably depict the same figure and may well have been drawn at the same time.

1. H. Thomas, The Drawings of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, London 1954, pp. 25-27
2. Sale, New York, Christie’s, 30 January 1997, lot 97