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Ecce Homo
Ansaldo, Giovanni Andrea
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Ansaldo, Giovanni Andrea

Voltri, Genoa, 1584 - Genoa, 1638

See author's file

Ecce Homo

First third of the XVII century. Wash, Pencil, Pencil ground, Grey-brown ink on dark yellow paper.
Not on display

The old attribution to Ansaldo is unquestionably correct, and the economical pen-and-wash style corresponds precisely with that of his documented drawings in the same technique, for example the Birth of St. John the Baptist in the Kunsthalle, Hamburg, which is a study for his picture in

S. Giovanni Battista, Loano, datable towards the end of Ansaldo´s career (inv. no. 52198; Binghamton and Worcester, 1972, no. 29). The Prado drawing would seem to belong to this same period, for not only is there a resemblance in the monumental architectural setting but also in the facial type of the figures. The physiognomy and expression of Zacharias about to inscribe John´s name on the tablet resting on the altar in the Hamburg drawing is close to that of the high priest at the balcony mockingly showing Christ to the people in the present study. The purpose of the Prado drawing is unknown, but the long, horizontal format suggests it may have been made as the design for a decoration to be painted on the inside wall of a church facade, with the balcony perhaps appearing above a central doorway.

The ambitious architectural backdrop of the Ecce Homo is only partly finished in pen and wash. The remaining areas sketched in with only black chalk include the far side of the cornice surrounding the upper level of the chamber and the inside of the barrel-vaulted loggias to the right and left, which terminate in a rounded archway. Since the drawing is unfinished, it is possible that the artist may have decided to change his architectural background as he worked on the design, or else the entire project may have been abandoned. It is worth noting in passing that in Ansaldo´s celebrated fresco of the Assumption of the Virgin in the cupola of S. Annunziata del Guastato, figures of the Apostles are placed on balustrades arranged on two levels at the base of the composition.

The formal and technical conception of the present sheet perpetuates well into the early seventeenth century the tradition of the pen-and-wash drawings of Luca Cambiaso and his followers, in which figurative form is reduced to its geometrical rudiments and subtle gradations of tone to simple contrasts of light and dark. This approach to the medium may be readily seen here in the summary representation of the spectators—three to each side of the three central protagonist — partaking in the drama like supporting actors in a theatrical performance. As often occurs in Cambiaso´s drawings, and those of his followers, the secondary figures are often perfunctorily drawn according to formula.

Finally, an influence emanating from beyond Genoa may be noted in the architectural backdrop of the Ecce Homo, which is distantly inspired by the work of Veronese (1528-1588), whose grand figure compositions were greatly enhanced by noble settings of the same scale and grandiloquence.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Chicago, Art Services International, 2008, p.188,207

Technical data

Inventory number
Ansaldo, Giovanni Andrea
Ecce Homo
First third of the XVII century
Wash; Pencil; Pencil ground; Grey-brown ink
Dark yellow paper
Height: 192 mm; Width: 392 mm
Bequest of Pedro Fernández Durán y Bernaldo de Quirós, 1931

Bibliography +

Mena Marqués, Manuela, Catalogo de Dibujos.Vol.VI. Dibujos Italianos del Siglo XVII, [s.n], Madrid, 1983, pp. 25, Fig. 2..

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de dibujos. Dibujos italianos del siglo XVI (por Nicholas Turner, con la colaboración de José Manuel Matilla), V, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2004, pp. 188, 207.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International, Chicago, 2008, pp. 188,207.

Other inventories +

Inv. Legado Pedro Fernández Durán, 1931. Núm. 1852.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in pen and ink. Back

Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

De Miguel Ángel a Annibale Carracci. Un siglo de Dibujos Italianos en el Museo del Prado
25.10.2008 - 26.07.2009

Un siglo de dibujos italianos en el Museo del Prado. De Miguel Ángel a Annibale Carracci
23.11.2004 - 13.02.2005

Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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