Old Master Drawings

Old Master Drawings

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 9. An Allegory of Abundance in a drawn circle.

Giulio Pippi, called Giulio Romano

An Allegory of Abundance in a drawn circle

Auction Closed

January 27, 05:29 PM GMT


120,000 - 160,000 USD

Lot Details


Giulio Pippi, called Giulio Romano

Rome 1499 - 1546 Mantua

An Allegory of Abundance in a drawn circle

Pen and brown ink and reddish-brown wash

218 by 226 mm

Jonathan Richardson, Senior (1665-1745), London (L.2184);
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), London (L.2364);
Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), London (L.2445);
with Samuel Woodburn, London,
where acquired in 1836 by Lord Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere (1800-1857), London (L.2710b);
by descent to the 5th Earl of Ellesmere, 6th Duke of Sutherland,
his sale, London, Sotheby's, The Ellesmere Collection, Part II, 5 December 1972, lot 55;
John Winter;
Private collection
Catalogue of the Ellesmere Collection of Drawings at Bridgewater House, London 1898, no. 127;
F. Hartt, Giulio Romano, New Haven 1958, vol. I, p. 304, no. 289

Giulio Romano was particularly celebrated and recognized in his time for his innovative designs and his restless imagination in creating harmonious and illusionistic interiors. This elegant drawing, representing an allegory of Abundance, incorporates many familiar elements from Giulio’s repertoire found in the decoration of both Palazzo Te and the Palazzo Ducale, Mantua. His style frequently involved appropriations of antique sources in his narrative, and as so often in Giulio’s works, the motifs in the present drawing are loosely inspired by the Antique. 

This sheet is most probably a preliminary study for a stucco roundel, as indicated by the indications of a circular shape lightly drawn around the composition. The graceful contours of the figures are characteristic of Giulio’s interest in depicting visually pleasing forms, resulting in a harmonious ensemble. This is especially evident in the beautiful figure of Abundance, seated on a stool with leonine feet, surrounded by her attendants, one kneeling and holding a large cornucopia springing out from an acanthus leaf. The drawing is executed with a typically delicate and fluid use of the pen and ink, complemented by generously applied light red wash. Some of the shadowing at the center of the composition is accented with reassured parallel lines.

Frederick Hartt dated this handsome sheet to circa 1528. It does not seem to relate to any surviving or known decoration, and may record a discarded design.

Giulio, one of the most influential of Raphael’s pupils, arrived in Mantua in 1524 when Federico Gonzaga ruled the city as the fifth marchese, a title he had assumed in 1519. In 1530 the emperor Charles V conferred on him the title of duke. The Gonzaga family had ruled the Mantuan state since the early 14th century. In the 15th and 16th centuries their passion for art attracted to Mantua artists as illustrious as Mantegna and Giulio Romano, to serve the family’s growing prestige and need for visual propaganda. 

The provenance of this sheet from the renowned Ellesmere sale is extremely distinguished. It is one of several drawings by Giulio dispersed from the Richardson collection, which than passed to two other great collectors of Italian drawings, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Thomas Lawrence, before entering the collection of Lord Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere (1800-1857), who acquired them in 1836 from the dealer Samuel Woodburn (1786-1853).