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The Birth of the Virgin
Attributed to Bagnacavallo
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Attributed to Bagnacavallo

Bagnacavallo, Ravenna, 1484 - Bologna, 1542

Bagnacavallo See author's file

The Birth of the Virgin

First half of the XVI century. Grey-brown wash, White lead, Pencil, Pencil ground on tinted paper.
Not on display

A former owner of this impressive drawing believed it to be from the hand of the Bolognese painter Bartolomeo Bagnacavallo, who, according to Vasari, travelled to Rome together with Biagio Pupini (active between 1511 and 1551) when Raphael was active there, from 1508 to 1520. The precise nature of Bartolomeo´s association with Raphael remains elusive: he is often referred to as his pupil, as in the inscription on the present drawing; and it is commonly believed that he helped Raphael with the decoration of the Vatican Logge, though there is no documentary evidence to substantiate this claim. The present drawing is certainly highly Raphaelesque, not only in the treatment of the figures and their spacing within the composition but also in the handling of the materials, which recalls that of the compositional studies by Raphael and his studio for the Biblical scenes on the ceiling of the Vatican Logge. On the other hand, the style of the Birth of the Virgin does not fit entirely satisfactorily with that of the few drawings generally accepted as by Bartolomeo, for instance an example in the Louvre (inv. no. 8890; Paris, 2001, no. 15). Not only are these more antiquated in conception, but they also seem to reflect more strongly the draughtsmanship of his associate Biagio Pupini (active between 1511 and 1551).

What is clear, however, is that the Birth of the Virgin was made by an artist active in Bologna, or nearby, during the first half of the sixteenth century. In the event that the traditional attribution to Bartolomeo proves unacceptable, other possible candidates for its authorship include: Innocenzo da Imola (c. 1490-c. 1545) and Giovanni Battista Ramenghi, called Bagnacavallo junior (1521-1601), Bartolomeo´s son, whose activity as a draftsman is now slowly beginning to emerge.

Turning again to the old inscription, upper left, the collector responsible for penning it remains unknown. The writing of two important Roman collectors of the late seventeenth century Giovanni Pietro Bellori (1613-1696) and Padre Sebastiano Resta (1635-1714), who were both fine connoisseurs, is different. It remains to be seen whether or not it is the same as yet another collector of this same period, Giorgio Bonola (1657-1700), who often annotated his drawings rather in this way.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Chicago, Art Services International, 2008, p.58,209

Technical data

Inventory number
Attributed to Bagnacavallo
The Birth of the Virgin
First half of the XVI century
Grey-brown wash; White lead; Pencil; Pencil ground
Tinted paper
Height: 182 mm; Width: 230 mm
Bequest of Pedro Fernández Durán y Bernaldo de Quirós, 1931

Bibliography +

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. 58, 209.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International, Chicago, 2008, pp. 58,209.

Other inventories +

Inv. Dibujos, Fondo Antiguo. Núm. 1075.

Inscriptions +

Del Ramenghi / scolaro di Raffaele [Bartolomeo Ramenghi, llamado Bagnacavallo, que tradicionalmente estaba considerado discípulo de Rafael] y debajo, a grafito, de mano posterior: C. Salviati [Cecchino del Salviati o Francesco Salviati (1510-1563)].
Inscribed with pen and ink. Front, upper right corner

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: 27-01-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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