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Sibyl
Romano, Giulio (Giovanni Francesco Penni)
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Romano, Giulio (Giovanni Francesco Penni)

Rome (Italy), 1499 - Mantua (Italy), 1546

Romano, Giulio (Giovanni Francesco Penni) See author's file

Sibyl

1525 - 1530. Blurred / softened / rubbed, Pencil, Prepared with a stylus on paper Not on display

This is the most Raphaelesque of all the sixteenth-century Italian drawings in the Prado, the confident style of drawing in black chalk echoing that of Raphael´s own late drawings in the medium, above all his studies for heads in the Transfiguration in the PinacotecaVaticana, in the British Museum, London, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and elsewhere. Here in the Prado drawing, the execution is finer and more calligraphic, as in the distinctive "hook-like" folds of drapery that are so much a trait of Giulio´s method of drawing in pen and wash.

In antiquity, Sibyls were soothsayers and, by the end of the Middle Ages, the Church interpreted their prophecies as foretelling the Christian story. This figure of a Sibyl is seen seated amongst blocks of stone -her left arm resting on one of them and her left foot on another- reading from the tablet she holds up in front of her. In one of the most accomplished passages of drawing, her bodice opens up at her side to expose the lower part of her right breast. Feeling that this detail might be thought too erotic, the artist has drawn a slightly enlarged alternative, in the top right corner, showing the right upper arm and thorax clad in a loose fitting, sleeved garment that discreetly covers the figure´s upper body.

From its style, the drawing would appear to date from the mid-to-late 1520s. It seems possible that it was made early on in Giulio´s stay in Mantua, where he arrived in 1524, rather than while he was still in Rome completing commissions left unfinished at Raphael´s death. This is suggested by the figure type, with its slender proportions and somewhat elastic limbs, which already hints at those found in the artist´s mature painted works done in Mantua following designs of his own.

Since black chalk drawings from Giulio´s Mantuan period are virtually unknown, perhaps the best stylistic comparison that can be made between the Prado sheet and a drawing in this medium unquestionably by Giulio is with his Portrait of G. F. Penni: Study for a Head in the "Allocution of Constantine" in the British Museum, London, done in the very early years of the 1520s (inv. no. 1949-2-12-3; Pouncey and Gere, 1962, no. 72). This is a so-called "auxiliary cartoon" for the figure immediately adjacent to Constantine in the Allocution of Constantine in the Sala di Costantino, decorated by Raphael´s pupils after his death, and it seems that Penni served as a model for the figure in the fresco. There are notable similarities in handling between the two drawings, for instance in the sweeping lines of diagonal, parallel hatching that indicate the mid-tones and in the firm contours that define the principal forms. The same unfussy, economy of detail is also a feature shared by both drawings (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. 70).

Technical data

Inventory number
D001805
Author
Romano, Giulio (Giovanni Francesco Penni)
Title
Sibyl
Date
1525 - 1530
Technique
Blurred / softened / rubbed; Pencil; Prepared with a stylus
Support
Paper
Dimension
Height: 265 mm.; Width: 211 mm.
Provenance
Bequest of Pedro Fernández Durán y Bernaldo de Quirós, 1931; I. Brun</br></br>

Bibliography +

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de dibujos, V, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2004, pp. 70, 378.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International, Chicago, 2008, pp. 71,378.

Other inventories +

Inv. Legado Pedro Fernández Durán, 1931. Núm. 462.

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
Madrid
23.11.2004 - 13.02.2005

Update date: 02-05-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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