Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, A Pastoral Journey, a drawing in paint

Genoa, Italy, around AD 1650

Castiglione (1609-64) was a Genoese painter and etcher. His particular talents lay in depicting animals and figures in light-filled landscapes. The theme of the present work may be either biblical or pastoral as no specific subject appears to be represented.

This composition is painted in brush and red-brown oil paint. Castiglione diluted the paint with linseed oil which he then applied to the paper with fluid, freely flowing brush strokes. It is a superb example of his more 'painterly' style, that is, it appears more like a painting than a drawing. Although some details do appear in his paintings, most notably the woman on the horse, it was not made as a preparatory sketch for a painting. Rather, it is a finished work of art in its own right.

This drawing once belonged to Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), the famous collector of antiquities and British Envoy in Naples. He became one of the first Trustees of The British Museum and sold or gave much of his collection to the Museum. He had a particular fondness for oil sketches and it is known that this work and an unrecorded pendant by the same artist hung in his palace in Naples.

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More information


I. Jenkins and K. Sloan, Vases and Volcanoes: Sir Willi (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)


Height: 425.000 mm
Width: 570.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1997-6-7-10


Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


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