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The Annunciation
Attributed to Cesi, Bartolomeo
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Attributed to Cesi, Bartolomeo

Bologna, 1556 - Bologna, 1629

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The Annunciation

Late XVI century. Black chalk, Red chalk on dark yellow paper.
Not on display

In her 1983 catalogue, Mena Marques rightly brought attention to the very high quality of this drawing and suggested the style could be Sienese, from the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth. Although some Tuscan elements do seem to be displayed here -for example the particular use of the red chalk- the handling has more in common with Emilian drawing of the period. A number of late sixteenth-century Bolognese artists working in the tradition of Correggio (c. 1489-1534) and Parmigianino (1503-1540), also draw in this same way, filling the sheet with densely wrought shading, among them Denys Calvaert (c. 1540-1619).

Fundamental to an understanding of the drawing is its unashamed borrowing from the composition of Federico Barocci´s famous etching of the Annunciation, datable shortly after 1584 (Cleveland and New Haven, 1978, no. 75; Turner, 2000, pp. 138, n. 2, and 145, fig. 133). Not only is the broad, upright rectangular format of the two works similar, but in both the Prado drawing and Barocci´s etching a window appears in the upper center of the wall at the back of the space, through which an outdoor landscape may be glimpsed. Whoever made the Annunciation in the Prado, he certainly based his design on that of Barocci´s famous etching, but with the participants less idealized and more homely in demeanor.

The figure types and treatment of the folds of drapery are similar to those found in drawing D2995, an undoubtedly authentic work by the master -in spite of the difference in technique of the two drawings. The Virgin´s facial features, with her rosebud mouth and sharp, pointed little eyes, recall those of the winged angel, right center of drawing D2995, who holds the model of a temple in both hands, as well as some of the other figures in the same drawing. Likewise the rounded, slightly meandering loops of drapery at the Virgin´s knees as she kneels on the little pedestal seem analogous to those of St. Anne in the other drawing.

Moreover, the handling fits exactly with that of the few other compositional studies in red chalk now generally accepted as by Cesi. These include a double-sided sheet in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, likewise in red chalk, showing on each side two Virtues standing to either side of a cartouche (inv. PD. 32-1958). Another is an Adoration of the Shepherds, on the art market, New York (sale, Christie´s, 22 January 2004, lot 27, as Giulo Morina); both the compiler and David Scrase proposed an attribution of the ex-New York drawing to Cesi on the grounds of its similarity to that in the Fitzwilliam. Finally, it is worth remarking that Cesi´s fresco of the Annunciation in the choir of the Certosa at Maggiano, Siena, shows a different composition to that of the Prado drawing, though there are nevertheless a number of interesting parallels in detail and general design (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. 160).

Technical data

Inventory number
Attributed to Cesi, Bartolomeo
The Annunciation
Late XVI century
Black chalk; Red chalk
Dark yellow paper
Height: 245 mm; Width: 212 mm
Bequest of Pedro Fernández Durán y Bernaldo de Quirós, 1931

Bibliography +

Mena Marqués, Manuela, Catalogo de Dibujos.VI. Dibujos Italianos del Siglo XVII, [s.n], Madrid, 1983, pp. 206.

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. 160, 294.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International, Chicago, 2008, pp. 160,294.

Other inventories +

Inv. Legado Pedro Fernández Durán, 1931. Núm. 93.

Inscriptions +

École Espagnole

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: 01-02-2023 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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