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Saint Anne and the Immaculate Conception
Cesi, Bartolomeo
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Cesi, Bartolomeo

Bologna, 1556 - Bologna, 1629

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Saint Anne and the Immaculate Conception

Ca. 1600. Wash, Pencil, Pencil, Grey-brown ink on dark yellow paper.
Not on display

St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, is the elderly female saint kneeling on the floor in the interior of a temple and the heavenly apparition that takes place above her head foretells her conception of Mary, the child in the upper register of the composition in a flowing dress, standing on a crescent moon, symbol of the Immaculate Conception, who in her turn would be the mother of Jesus. Winged angels, to either side of Mary, hold symbols of her sacred life as well as of her purity. Further scenes from the story of the conception of the infant Mary are represented in the background, in the openings between the piers. On the left is the Annunciation to Joachim, Anne´s husband for twenty years, during which period the couple had remained childless: the angel Gabriel appears to Joachim in the desert, at a shepherd´s but to which the old man had retreated. On the right is the Meeting of Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate, at the edge of Jerusalem. After telling Joachim that his wife would conceive a child, the angel Gabriel told him to meet his wife at the gate.

This is a finished modello, with the upper half squared for transfer, for the composition of a painted altarpiece, known from two versions. The earlier of the two, datable after 1591, was formerly over the altar in the Cappella Desideri, S. Francesco, Bologna, and is now in the city´s Pinacoteca Nazionale. A later version of the composition is in the church of S. Maria della Pietà, or dei Mendicanti, also Bologna. The drawing´s overall composition is followed in both paintings, but there are nevertheless a number of differences of detail, as well as some subtle changes to the relationships between the principal elements of the design. The most important of these latter concern the central section of the upper register, with the figures of God the Father, the Dove of the Holy Spirit, and the youthful Virgin Mary.

The drawing is characteristic of Cesi´s finished, pen-and-wash studies, which he made as modelli for his more important painted compositions. In this example, the artist´s precision of touch and careful indication of the principal lights and darks within the design reveal the extraordinary diligence of his working method. The habit of producing finished pen-and-wash studies for paintings such as this continued in Bologna until well beyond the middle of the seventeenth century and was adopted by such painters as Francesco Albani (1578-1660), Guido Reni (1575-1642) and many others (Text drawn from Turner, N.: From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International-Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, p. 158).

Technical data

Inventory number
Cesi, Bartolomeo
Saint Anne and the Immaculate Conception
Ca. 1600
Wash; Pencil; Pencil; Grey-brown ink
Dark yellow paper
Height: 385 mm; Width: 240 mm
Bequest of Pedro Fernández Durán y Bernaldo de Quirós, 1931

Bibliography +

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., I Grandi Disegni Italiani Nelle Collezioni Di Madrid, Silvana Editoriale D'Arte, Milán, 1978, pp. nº 18.

Mena Marqués, Manuela, Catalogo de Dibujos.Vol.VI. Dibujos Italianos del Siglo XVII, [s.n], Madrid, 1983, pp. 58-59.

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. 158, 294.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International, Chicago, 2008, pp. 158,294.

Other inventories +

Inv. Legado Pedro Fernández Durán, 1931. Núm. 1859.

Inscriptions +

disegno del quatro di S´Anna ne la Chiesa de´mendicanti a Bologna
Inscribed in pen and ink. Secondary support

le gustó muchísimo a Carderera
Inscribed. Back, Secondary support


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

Dibujos Boloñeses
04.03.2003 - 25.05.2003

Displayed objects +

Attributes of the Virgin / Attributes of Mary

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

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