LOTS 30-52: PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
The range of designs contained in the volume highlights the creativity and variety of the silversmith’s highly skilled craft, and also illustrates the level of patrons who could have been responsible for these religious and secular commissions. Fuhring has pointed out the presence, for example, of several other designs in the album that incorporate papal coats-of-arms, including, in addition to Paul V, Borghese, those of Urban VIII, Barberini (1623-1644), Clemens IX, Rospigliosi (1667-1669) and Alexander VIII, Ottoboni (1689-1691).
Later, the album was owned by the French architect and collector Hippolyte Destailleur (1822-1893), and according to Peter Fuhring it was most probably Destailleur who assembled it in its current form, a convincing hypothesis, given that the collector put together many other albums of drawings and prints that he acquired, singly or in larger groups. In this case, it seems that the original, earlier album was taken apart, and the 49 individual sheets window mounted, inserted into the pages of another, larger album of 55 leaves. Fuhring has identified the watermark found in the pages of this second, larger album as a French mark (Heawood 1227), possibly from the Auvergne, and used in Paris from 1667, so the second album as we see it today could in fact have been created at any time after that date. Destailleur then seems to have covered the newly created volume with an unrelated but period 17th-century French binding – a remboitage very much in keeping with his taste, and his fervent activity as a collector. Finally, Destailleur added some drawings to the original group, attaching them to the versos of certain original pages, in some cases alongside other drawings that had been trimmed and glued on the versos at an earlier date (bringing the total number of drawings included in the album to 144). In fact, as Fuhring has noted, one of these earlier additions to the contents of the original album, a small design glued onto the verso of page 21, incorporates the arms of Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661), indicating that the smaller album was most probably already in France at a relatively early date, by the second half of the 17th Century, or the beginning of the 18th Century.
In addition to the group of Roman drawings already discussed, the album also includes some sheets that appear to be slightly earlier in date, and others attributable to the workshops of Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) and Giovanni Paolo Schor (1615-1674), presumably added by Destailleur, who interestingly believed the majority of the drawings in the album to be by Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674-1755), and a few by Pietro da Cortona.
One of the two drawings inserted into the first page of the present album is a design for a frontispiece (cut at the top), which Fuhring attributes to Giovanni Paolo Schor. That drawing bears an extensive French inscription, apparently 18th-century, in a drawn cartouche: Recueil de deissins / de / Cartouches, Vases, Pieds de Croix / Aubenistieres Reliquaires, / Brule parfums, Feux de / cheminées, Tables, Flambeaux Aiguières / etc., / par Ghezzi, P. de Cortone / et / autres Maistres. Facing it, on the inside of the front cover of the volume, Destailleur himself has written, in pencil: très beau recueil -325 dessins- / Le chevalier P. Leone Ghezzi né à Rome 1674-1755 / Pierre Berettini dit de Cortone – 1596-1669, followed by his initial. Since there are no inscriptions on any of the individual drawings suggesting attributions to either of these artists, Fuhring has suggested that not only the pencil inscription, but also the one inside the cartouche on the facing page could actually have been written by Destailleur.
Destailleur did, however, add his own very recognizable inscriptions, minutely handwritten in pencil, on many of the individual drawings throughout the album, attributing numerous drawings to Ghezzi and a few to Cortona, and individually numbering every single study in the album, even when several appear on the same sheet (thereby achieving the total of 325 drawings that he mentions in his inscription). Destailleur’s collector’s mark is also applied to the recto of almost every single drawing in the album.
Among the later sheets added most probably by Destailleur himself, there is a design for a silver plaquette with Diana and Endymion (p. 101), bearing the a convincing attribution to the Neapolitan painter, sculptor, and architect Domenico Antonio Vaccaro (1678-1745).
Hippolyte-Alexandre-Gabriel-Walter Destailleur (1822-1893) was an architect and a man of letters, but above all a very passionate collector of drawings, prints and books. During his life he assembled several albums of drawings and prints. He sold his first collection of drawings and prints of ornaments and architecture in 1879, to the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin. Subsequently, he formed even better and more extensive collections, and in 1889 gave to the Cabinet des éstampes de la Bibliothèque Nationale all his drawings and prints of theatrical subjects, and six volumes containing 1328 drawings relating to the city of Paris.
The other parts of his vast collection were dispersed by way of several sales, during his lifetime and after his death. In the sale held by Damascène Morgand in Paris on 26-27 May 1893, lot 68 is described using exactly the same wording that appears in the cartouche on the first page of this album.
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