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drawing

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Nn,7.51.3

  • Description

    Right hand of Artemisia Gentileschi holding a brush. 1625 Black and red chalk

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1585-1656
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 219 millimetres
    • Width: 180 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Signed, dated and inscribed in red chalk: 'Faict a Rome par Pierre Du Monstier Parisien, Ce dernier de Decemb.re 1625./ aprez la digne main de l'excellente et sçavante Artemise gentil done Romanine' (Made in Rome by Pierre Dumonstier, Parisian, the last day of December, 1625, after the worthy hand of the excellent and skilful Artemisia, gentlewoman of Rome.)

        Verso: 'Les mains de l'Aurore sont louées et renommées pour leur rare beauté. Mais celle cy/ plus digne le doit estre mille fois plus, pour scavoir faire des merveilles,/ qui ravissent les yeux des plus Judicieux.' (The hands of Aurora are praised and renowned for their rare beauty. But this one is a thousand times more worthy for knowing how to make marvels that send the most judicious eyes into raptures.)
  • Curator's comments

    This is not a study of a generic hand, but the hand of the famous and talented Italian painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, whom Dumonstier apparently met in Rome. An elegant and calligraphic inscription across the top of the sheet proudly proclaims that the drawing was, `made in Rome by Pierre Dumonstier, Parisian, the last day of December, 1625, after the worthy hand of the excellent and skilful Artemisia, gentlewoman of Rome.' An inscription on the verso goes on to compare the painter to the goddess Aurora. In short, the hand, poised with a delicate grip on a fine-tipped brush, is a substitute for the artist herself, making this a symbolic portrait.

    Pierre Dumonstier II was a member of an extended family of artists, at least five of whom, from the sixteenth to the early seventeenth centuries, specialized in portrait drawings in chalk. Pierre II (sometimes called `le neveu', the nephew) appears, from extant sheets, to have been less prolific than his cousin Daniel Dumonstier. Louis Dimier, in his `Histoire de la peinture de portrait en France au XVIe siècle`, catalogued only ten chalk drawings by Pierre Dumonstier II.(n.1) Dumonstier's habit of inscribing his drawings provides some chronological ordering as well as some indications of his travels. Mariette, in his brief entry on Dumonstier for his `Abécédario`, mentions having seen a drawing signed and dated 1625, with a note that it had been drawn in Turin.(n.2) Accepting this, the drawing of Artemisia's hand would have been made not long after Dumonstier's arrival in Rome. In 1625 Artemisia Gentileschi had been back in Rome for five years, following a seven-year period in Florence. Dumonstier's drawing and its adulatory inscription have frequently been cited in the recent literature on Artemisia as evidence of her fame and high standing at this point in her career.(n.3)

    The ten drawings catalogued by Dimier were (with the exception of the present sheet and one copy after Raphael) all portraits or drawings of heads in red and black chalk, sometimes with additional coloured chalks. Since then another drawing of a hand has appeared, a `Hand Holding a Handkerchief` (fig.1; Horvitz collection) (n.4) similar in format and technique to the present drawing, the Horvitz `Hand` was done in Rome and bears a signature and a date (12 June 1627). Although it is not known to whom the hand belonged, it is, like Artemisia's hand, modelled with subtlety and eloquently posed to convey a sense of refinement and grace.

    Text by P. Stein, 2005 as cited below.

    Fig.1 PIERRE DUMONSTIER II, `Hand Holding a Handkerchief`, 1627, black and red chalk, heightened with white chalk on cream antique laid paper, 245 x 190 mm, The Horvitz Collection, Boston (1.1997.47).

    Notes
    1 L. Dimier, `Histoire de la peinture de portrait en France au XVIe siècle`, Paris and Brussels, 1924-6, II, pp.300-4.
    2 P. de Chennevières and A. de Montaiglon (eds), ``Abécédario`de P. J. Mariette`, vols 1-6, Paris, 1851-60 (reprinted 1966), II (1853-4), p.131.
    3 See M. Garrard, `The Intake of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art`, Princeton and Oxford, 1989, pp.63-4; R. Bissell, `Artemisia Gentileschi`, Pennsylvania, 1999, pp.39; K. Chistiansen and J.W. Mann, exhib.cat., `Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi`, New York, 2002, pp.268 and 339.
    4 A. L. Clark (ed.), exhib.cat., Cambridge, Toronto, Paris, Edinburgh, New York and Los Angeles, `Mastery and Elegance: Two Centuries of French Drawings from the Collection of Jeffrey E. Horvitz`, 1998-2000, p.416, no.Aii7.

    Lit.: P. Stein, in exhib. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art and London, BM, 'French Drawings from Clouet to Seurat', 2005, no. 12 (with previous literature).

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  • Bibliography

    • Stein 2005 13 bibliographic details
    • Prat 2013 p. 407, fig. 969 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (French Roy XVIIc)

  • Exhibition history

    2005/6 Nov-Jan, New York, Met Mus of Art, Clouet to Seurat/BM
    2006 June-Oct, BM, Clouet to Seurat/BM
    2016-17 Sept-Jan, BM, 'French Portrait Drawings' (no cat)

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1835

  • Acquisition notes

    VC (Anon Lugt 2508). The drawing was part of Lot 104 in the Sloman Sale containing 5 items.

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    Nn,7.51.3

  • Additional IDs

    • 1835,0711.35.3
Study of a woman's right hand (said to be that of Artemesia Gentileschi) holding a brush; frilly cuff at wrist. 1625 Black and red chalk, with charcoal

Study of a woman's right hand (said to be that of Artemesia Gentileschi) holding a brush; frilly cuff at wrist. 1625 Black and red chalk, with charcoal

Image description

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