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The Capture of Christ
Cambiaso, Luca
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Cambiaso, Luca

Moneglia, Liguria, 1527 - El Escorial, Madrid, 1585

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The Capture of Christ

Third quarter of the XVI century. Wash, Pencil, Pencil ground, Grey ink, Grey-brown ink on yellow paper.
Not on display

The drawing belongs to a collection, mostly by Cambiaso´s workshop, formerly preserved in an old album. According to Renaissance tradition, a painter needed to prove himself as an inventor of figure compositions: these were not the casual groupings of scenes from everyday life that might take his fancy, but the great actions of human history, from the Bible, mythology, ancient history and literature. The painter, like the poet, needed to stir human emotion, which he did by interpreting traditional stories afresh, eliciting thereby the admiration of his contemporaries.

This fundamental art-theoretical tenet of the time, coupled with Cambiaso´s position as leader of the most important painters´ studio in Genoa, helps explain his significant production of finished compositional drawings. Far from helping solve problems that had arisen in the long preparatory process leading to the creation of a specific painting or paintings, they seem to have come into being as a result of a process of fostering artistic invention and may well have had a didactic purpose. They show the painter cultivating his own ideas in the orchestration of a given theme. Cambiaso´s sequence of drawings dedicated to Stories from Christ´s Passion, of which the present study is a fine example, must have come about as a result of such an exercise. The fact that so many drawn compositions devoted to these Stories are known, often from a number of versions of varying quality and often without a single corresponding pictorial rendering, would seem to bear out this hypothesis.

The Prado drawing well conveys the movement of a crowd of soldiers, caught in a moment of great excitement. The agitated movements of the soldiers are complimented by the bowed and humiliated figure of Christ, bundled along by his captors. As the eye moves further back into space into greater darkness, the movement of the soldiers slows. The sense of spectacle provided by this nocturnal event is enhanced by the single source of illumination, the torch held aloft by the lead soldier on the left. The flickering torchlight provides a fitting accompaniment to the sudden movements of the figures in the main group, while the darkness of the background is equally appropriate to the slower progress of the rest (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. 110).

Technical data

Inventory number
Cambiaso, Luca
The Capture of Christ
Third quarter of the XVI century
Wash; Pencil; Pencil ground; Grey ink; Grey-brown ink
Yellow paper
Height: 212 mm; Width: 300 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 7.

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. 110, 243.

Enciclopedia del Museo del Prado, V, T.F. Editores: Fundación Amigos, Madrid, 2006, pp. 1789.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International, Chicago, 2008, pp. 110.

La invención del cuerpo. Desnudos, anatomía, pasiones, Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte,, 2018, pp. n.23.

Other inventories +

Inv. Legado Pedro Fernández Durán, 1931. Núm. 342.

Exhibitions +

La invención del cuerpo. Diálogos entre arte y anatomía
San Sebastián
23.11.2018 - 22.02.2019

La invención del cuerpo. Diálogos entre arte y anatomía
02.07.2018 - 04.11.2018

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

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