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Studies for a section of architectural decoration [Galleria Farnese(¿?)]
Carracci, Annibale
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Carracci, Annibale

Bologna, 1560 - Rome, 1609

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Studies for a section of architectural decoration [Galleria Farnese])?¿(

1597 - 1601. Wash, Pencil, Grey-brown ink on dark yellow paper.
Not on display

Annibale Carracci established the early Baroque style in Italy with Caravaggio (1571-1610). Annibale`s naturalistic style was based on the Antique and on Raphael, and unlike Caravaggio`s sombre realism, continued the representational tradition of the Italian Renaissance. Annibale`s style evolved in Bologna, where he worked together with his brother Agostino (1557-1602) and their cousin Ludovico. In 1582 the three Carracci established an academy of painting, later known as the Accademia degli Incamminati, in which drawing the human figure from life was one of the fundamental tenets, a discipline that had been much neglected in the preceding decades.

In 1594 Annibale was summoned to Rome by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese, who commissioned him to decorate the ceilings of the camerino (c.1596-97) and the gallery (1597-1601) in the Palazzo Farnese. The frescoes of scenes from ancient mythology on the gallery`s ceiling is Annibale`s masterpiece, with its ingenious and seemingly weightless architectural framework, witty interpretation of the narratives set in different formats, extraordinary luminosity and beautiful harmonies across an array of pastel colours. Exhausted by the effort of painting the gallery ceiling and distressed by the death of his brother Agostino soon after it was completed, Annibale`s work began to suffer, and in 1605 he fell seriously ill. His output diminished further until his death four years later.

As a draughtsman, Annibale had no rival in the early Baroque period in Italy. His forceful hand is easily recognisable in the unerring pen lines of this impressive, double-sided sheet. The studies are generally connected with the planning of the ceiling decoration of the Galleria Farnese in the late 1590s. In the recto study, a nude youth sits on a ledge, in front of a niche containing a statue of the Three Graces. In his right hand he brandishes a laurel crown, symbol of military victory, and in his left he holds a baton. The putti playing, drawn on the verso, were doubtless intended to decorate the architectural framework on the recto. The same architectural scheme is studied in another drawing by Annibale in the collection of the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris.

Michel Pastoureau and Gail Feigenbaum have proposed an alternative identification for the Prado and École des Beaux-Arts drawings, suggesting that they may have been made for a hypothetical painted frieze in the hall named the Sala dei Fasti Farnesiani, the decorations of which celebrate the family`s military accomplishments. Annibale was to have painted this room on completion of the Galleria. The military attributes of the youth in the Prado drawing favour of such an interpretation (Turner, N.: Italian Masterpieces. From Spain`s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, 2014, p. 100).


Technical data

Inventory number
Carracci, Annibale
Studies for a section of architectural decoration [Galleria Farnese(¿?)]
1597 - 1601
Wash; Pencil; Grey-brown ink
Dark yellow paper
Height: 489 mm; Width: 381 mm
Bequest of Pedro Fernández Durán y Bernaldo de Quirós, 1931

Bibliography +

Vitzthum, W., Two Drawings by Annibale Carracci in Madrid and a Comment on the Farnese Gallery, Master drawings, 1964, pp. 45 / lám. 39.

Martin, John Rupert, The Farnese Gallery, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1965, pp. nº 42 / lám. 146-147.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., I Grandi Disegni Italiani Nelle Collezioni Di Madrid, Silvana Editoriale D'Arte, Milán, 1978, pp. lám. 17.

Pastoureau, Michel, 1980-1981, pp. 453.

Mena Marqués, Manuela, Catalogo de Dibujos.Vol.VI. Dibujos Italianos del Siglo XVII, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1983, pp. 52.

Weston-Lewis, Aidan, Annibale Carracci and the antique, Master drawings, 30/3, 1992, pp. 310, nº 26.

The Drawings of Annibale Carracci, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1999, pp. nº 74.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de dibujos, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2004, pp. 172-174, 284.

Turner, N., En: Enciclopedia del Museo del Prado, T.F. Editores: Fundación Amigos, 2006.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International, Chicago, 2008, pp. 172.

Turner, N, Annibale Carracci 'Studies for a section of architectural decoration [Galleria Farnese?]' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp. 100.

Other inventories +

Inv. Legado Pedro Fernández Durán, 1931. Núm. 138.

Inscriptions +

Lugt. nº. 841
Front, lower left corner

81 (E. Durand). [Aunque al principio esta numeración podría parecer de Crozat, está situada demasiado arriba en la hoja y la caligrafía no es la misma que se suele encontrar normalmente en dicha numeración]
Inscribed in pen and ink. Front, lower right corner

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

Dibujos Boloñeses
04.03.2003 - 25.05.2003

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

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