In the catalogue of the 1981-82 exhibition devoted to the Castel Sant’Angelo frescoes (see Exhibited), Filippa M. Aliberti Gaudioso proposed that this drawing, though possibly based on a lost drawing by Perino, could plausibly be attributed to Domenico Rietti, called Lo Zaga, one of Perino’s principal assistants at the end of his career, rightly pointing out the stylistic as well as the compositional similarities between this study and the related fresco of Perseus liberating Andromeda, for which she also proposed the name of Lo Zaga. Like the fresco, the figures in this drawing are elongated, with small heads, but though the two compositions correspond quite closely, the format of the drawing is less attenuated than its frescoed counterpart, and the three groups of figures are closer to each other. Furthermore, the artist gives much more attention in the drawing to the figures than to the other compositional elements, and the background is only very quickly sketched, giving a strong overall impression of a working preparatory study for the fresco. The work in the Sala di Perseo started in the spring of 1545, and was completed the following summer, just before the decorations in the Sala Paolina.
In the 17th century, as Catherine Monbeig Goguel has recognised (loc. cit.), the drawing was most probably in the illustrious Paris collection of the German-born banker Everhard Jabach, and indeed it must have been in his second collection, since it appears to correspond with a sheet listed in the inventory compiled in 1696, following Jabach’s death: 'Perino del Vaga. Un paisage de marine où Persée vient de délivrer Andromède à la plume lavé et haussé sur papier bleu. Long de 16 1/3, et haut 8 2/3 pouces.'
Not surprisingly, the Louvre has a retouched copy of this same composition which originates from Jabach's first collection, acquired by Colbert for Louis XIV, in 1671.2
Other drawings that are in some ways related to this include two pen and wash sketches, in a private collection, which Mario Di Giampaolo published as preliminary ideas, later abandoned, for the frieze decoration in the Sala di Perseo, also attributing them to Lo Zaga (see Literature). The similarities, when compared both to the present sheet and to the final frescoes are, though largely generic, and the rectangular scenes are much less complex. A very damaged drawing of the same composition, catalogued by Suzanne Folds McCullagh and Laura Giles as ‘After Perino del Vaga’, is in the Art Institute of Chicago (see Literature).3
1. Oberhuber did not want to judge the authorship of the drawing without seeing it in original; Bernice Davidson, however, cautiously opined (loc. cit.) that it ‘seems to me to be a contemporary copy, though possibly a shop work’.
2. Paris, Louvre, inv. no. 4312
3. Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, inv. no. 1922.5447
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