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Moses and the Israelites following the pillar of fire
Novelli, Pietro
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Novelli, Pietro

Monreale, Sicily (Italy), 1603 - Palermo, Sicily (Italy), 1647

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Moses and the Israelites following the pillar of fire

First half of the XVII century. Grey-brown wash, Pencil, Pencil ground, Grey-brown ink on yellow paper.
Not on display

Moses guided the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt and into the Promised Land. God showed them the way by appearing to them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). In this drawing the pillar appears at top left, framed by an oval cloud. Moses, protected by soldiers with lances, points to the pillar with his staff as he leads a vast procession of the Children of Israel down a hillside. The crowds pass a temple on a hilltop in the distance, its fenestrated drum, topped with a dome and lantern, resembling many a Baroque church in Sicily.

The drawing was formerly attributed to the seventeenth-century Genoese painter Bernardo Strozzi, but its style is entirely in keeping with that of the seventeenth-century Sicilian painter Pietro Novelli, (called il Monrealese). Novelli´s drawings share the same idiosyncratic handling and delicate penlines drawn with a fine nib, in long, flowing, serpentine lines. A good comparison may be made with Novelli´s Assumption of the Virgin, in the Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, Palermo, which is perhaps a design for the painter´s altarpiece in the Chiesa dei PP. Cappuccini at Ragusa, datable around 1643.

Monrealese first trained with his father, Pietro Antonio Novelli (1568-1625), and in 1618 began working under Vito Carrera (1555-1623). Most of his early work was painted in Palermo and much of it shows the influence of Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), who visited the city in 1624. At the beginning of the 1630s Monrealese visited Naples and Rome, coming into contact with the work of the High Renaissance masters Michelangelo and Raphael, as well as that of Caravaggio and Jusepe de Ribera. The work of Ribera would profoundly affect the painter´s later style (Turner, N.: Italian Masterpieces. From Spain´s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, 2014, p. 136).

Technical data

Inventory number
Novelli, Pietro
Moses and the Israelites following the pillar of fire
First half of the XVII century
Grey-brown wash; Pencil; Pencil ground; Grey-brown ink
Yellow paper
Height: 454 mm; Width: 304 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, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1983, pp. 157-158.

Di Stephano, Guido, Pietro Novelli Il Monrealese, S.F. Flaccovio Editore, Palermo, 1989, pp. 286-287.

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. 194, 323.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International, Chicago, 2008, pp. 194,323.

Turner, N., Pietro Novelli ' Moses and the Israelites following the pillar of fire' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp. 136.

Other inventories +

Inv. Legado Pedro Fernández Durán, 1931. Núm. 1005.

Inscriptions +

Lugt Suppl 747b
Printmaking. Secondary support

PFD [Anagrama de Pedro Fernández Durán]
Printmaking. Secondary support

Printmaking. Secondary support

Bernard Strozzi

Exhibitions +

Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court. Museo Nacional del Prado
16.05.2014 - 31.08.2014

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

Pietro Novelli e il suo Ambiente
10.06.1990 - 31.12.1990

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

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