- Museum number
The Adoration of the Shepherds; with the Virgin cradling the Infant at centre
Pen and brown ink and brown and grey wash, heightened with white
- Production date
- 1528-1538 (circa)
Height: 276 millimetres
Width: 188 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This drawing was traditionally believed to be a study by Correggio for his painting known as the 'Notte', now in Dresden. The connection with one of Correggio's most celebrated masterpieces explains the enormous price of £14.10 shillings paid for it by the BM from the Lawrence-Woodburn sale of 1860. This was the top price for any of the Correggio drawings in the sale and even more than was paid for Michelangelo's 'Epifania' cartoon.
A.E. Popham dismissed the old attribution, and following a suggestion of Philip Pouncey, tentatively attributed both this and a related drawing at Weimar, also originally from Lely's collection (Popham, 1957, fig. 35; Frucco, 2010, no. 40, fig. 48), to the Bolognese painter Pellegrino Tibaldi (1527-96). This attribution was repeated in Pouncey and Gere's BM catalogue of drawings by Italian XVIc. artists working in Rome. Diane Degrazia challenged this attribution in the 1984 Washington-Parma catalogue, observing that there were no drawings by Tibaldi of comparable character and that the dependence on Correggio's composition made it much more likely to be the work of one of his immediate followers. She suggested that it was by Giorgio Gandini, and compared it to studies such as the 'Virgin and Child with saints' in the Galleria dell'Accademia, Venice (Washington and Parma no. 29: Frucco, 2010, no. 16, fig. 21) and the Holy Family at Windsor (A.E. Popham and J. Wilde, 'The Italian Drawings of the XV and XVI Centuries in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle', London, 1949, no. 339, p. 233, fig. 74; Frucco no. 43, fig. 46). Degrazia's attribution has not been accepted by all authorities: Nicholas Turner in his review of the 1984 exhibition commented 'it is not impossible that the old attribution to Correggio of No. 30, and of a companion drawing at Weimar, could be correct, as Popham once supposed, and it seems certainly nearer the mark than that to the dim Giorgio Gandini del Grano supported by Miss De Grazia', and more recently it has been ascribed to Pietro Faccini (died 1602). Despite these doubts the style of the drawing does accord closely with that of Gandini.
Lit.: A.E. Popham, 'Correggio's Drawings', London, 1957, pp. 82-3, no A.50, p. 181, fig. 34 (as Tibaldi ?); P. Pouncey and J.A. Gere, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, artists working in Rome', London, 1983, no. 271, pp. 168-9 (as Tibaldi); D. Degrazia, in exhib. cat., Washington, National Gallery of Art and Parma, Galleria Nazionale, 'Correggio and His Legacy', 1984, no. 30, p. 126 (as Attributed to Gandini del Grano; with further literature); N. Turner review of Washington and Parma exhibition, 'The Burlington Magazine', CXXVI, October 1984, p. 657; E. Negro and N. Roio, 'Pietro Faccini', Modena, 1998, p. 57, fig. 109 (as Faccini); C. Bambach et al., 'The collecting of Correggio's and Parmigianino's drawings in Britain and America', in exhib. cat., London, British Museum, and New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'Correggio and Parmigianino, Master Draughtsmen of the Renaissance', 2000, p. 28; F. Frucco, 'Per Gandini disegnatore', in V. Romani (ed.), 'Studi sul disegno Padano del Rinascimento', Verona, 2010, no. 39, p. 197, fig. 47
Gere & Pouncey 1983
This celebrated drawing, universally accepted until recently as a study by Correggio for the Dresden 'Notte', must be studied in conjunction with a variant treatment of the same subject, now in the Schlossmuseum at Weimar (A.E. Popham, 'Correggio's Drawings', 1957, no. A 127, fig. 35), which resembles it closely in spirit and handling and which likewise passed throught the Lely, Lankrink, Richardson and Lawrence Collections. Already in 1896 Ricci had rejected Correggio's authorship of the Weimar drawing, while still accepting 1860,0616.20 as a study for the 'Notte', which it does indeed resemble in some respects. Popham, who when he first publisher 1860,0616.20 in 1935 was convinced that it was (a) by Correggio and (b) by the same hand as the Weimar sheet, was forced to explain the latter as the result of one of the artist's "not infrequent lapses". Twenty years later, in his monograph on Correggio's drawings, he decisively rejected Correggio's authorship of both, while still regarding them as stylistically inseparable; and without whole-heartedly accepting Pouncey's attribution of the Weimar drawing to Tibaldi (made independently of Ricci's characterisation of it as a "later [than Correggio] work of the Bolognese School") came to the conclusion that this "if not literally true ... represents a near approximation".
We see positive affinities between the Weimar drawing and Tibaldi's signed 'Adoration of the Shepherds' in the Borghese Gallery (see Pp,2.187), not only in the piling-up of the figures and their serpentine interrelation, but also in individual poses and gestures. 1860,0616.20 is sketchier, and its condition makes it even harder to judge. It reveals fewer positive characteristics of Tibaldi, but we find it impossible - as did Popham - to separate it from the Weimar drawing. The two must be datable at about the same time, but it seems to us an open question whether they are studies for the same composition, or whether one or both has any connection with the Borghese 'Adoration' or with the other 'Adoration', possibly by Tibaldi, at Cento (see biography of Tibaldi) (Briganti, fig. 104). The latter has in common with 1860,0616.20 the motif of a moonlit landscape seen beyond the stable roof in one corner of the background; but though it embodies the typically Mannerist feature of the half-length figure emerging in the front plane, it is a very much staider composition, still relatively timid in its development towards Mannerism, than the Borghese picture or than either of the drawings. The Borghese 'Adoration' is dated 1548 or 1549 (see Pp,2.187), and the two drawings must also date from the artist's Roman period, between c. 1548 and 1553.
On the upper part of the sheet, drawn before the 'Adoration' and with the sheet inverted, is a slight sketch drawn with the point of the brush of the Virgin and Child with a female saint, perhaps for a 'Mystic Marriage of St Catherine'.
Literature: J. Richardson, An Essay on the Theory of Painting, London, 1715, p. 117; the same, Italy, pp. 338, 342; Vasari, Rome edition of 1759, ii, Giunta alle note, p. 6; Lawrence Gallery, Fourth Exhibition, 1836, no. 70; J. Meyer, Correggio, Leipzig, 1871, p. 310; L. Fagan, Handbook to the Department of Prints and Drawings, London, 1876, p. 55; C. Ricci, Correggio, London, 1896, p. 291, n. 3; Venturi, ix2, p. 592, n. 1; A. Venturi, Correggio, Rome, 1926 (English ed.), pp. 424 and 573, no. 128; C. Ricci, Correggio, London, 1930, p. 171; A.E. Popham, Vasari Society, 2nd series, xvi (1935); no. 7; Emilian Drawings, no. 117; A.E. Popham, Correggio's Drawings, London, 1957, pp. 82f. and 181, no. A 51.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1951, BM, 'Emilian Drawings', no. 117
1977 May-Jun, Hermitage, 'Italian Renaissance', no. 60
1977 Jul-Aug, Pushkin, Moscow, 'Italian Renaissance', no. 60
1980, Adelaide and Melbourne, no. 62
1984 Mar-May, Washington, NGA, 'Correggio', no. 30
2016 Mar-Jun, Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, 'Correggio e Parmigianino'
- Acquisition name
Purchased from: Samuel Woodburn
Purchased through: Christie's (5.vi.1860/275 as Correggio 'THE NATIVITY; A STUDY, OR FIRST THOUGHT, FOR THE CELEBRATED NOTTE, AT DRESDEN. Most interesting, from curious variations in the design - bistre wash, greatly heightened with white. On the back, a long and interesting inscription by the elder Richardson. From the Collections of the Earl of Arundel, J. Richardson, Sir P. Lely, Lord Spencer, &c.' bt Tiffin £14-10-0)
Purchased through: Walter Benjamin Tiffin
- Previous owner
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Peter Lely (L.2092)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Prosper Henry Lankrink (L.2090)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Anon Lugt 2183
Previous owner/ex-collection: Jonathan Richardson Senior (L.2183; London Cock, 10.ii.1747/65; See Acquisition comment)
Previous owner/ex-collection: George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer (L.1531, T. Philipe, 11.vi.1811/191 as Correggio 'A DESIGN FOR HIS CELEBRATED NATIVITY, CALLED THE NOTTE - pen, Indian ink, and bistre, heightened - MOST CAPITAL, and extremely curious' bt Coxe for £9-19-6)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Edward Coxe (Mr. Squib, Saville Row, London, 14.iv.1815/125 as 'The original drawing of the celebrated picture, called La Notte, by Coreggio [sic] - formerly in the collection of Lord Arundel, and purchased by the late proprietor at the sale of the Spencer drawings')
Previous owner/ex-collection: John Hampden-Trevor, 3rd Viscount Hampden (?; Sotheby's, 27.vi.1827/54 as Correggio 'The Nativity, being an original design [by Correggio] in the same manner [as the previous drawing, described as being in 'chiaroscuro'] for the celebrated Notte' bt ? £7(?)-10-0 ; See Acquisition comment)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Thomas Lawrence (L.2445)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Gere & Pouncey 1983
Unidentified collector (L.2908), identified in the Lawrence Gallery catalogue as the mark of the Earl of Arundel.
Described in the Richardson sale as "Two Correggio, of the nota, in the dukes palace at Modena", sold for £16-0-0, the other presumably being the drawing now in Weimar. Listed in the Hampden sale as "The Nativity, being an original design [by Correggio] in the same manner [as the previous drawing, described as being in 'chiaroscuro'] for the celebrated Notte"
The drawing was the most expensive Correggio at the sale of Sir Thomas Lawrence (on the provenance see also M. Royalton-Kisch, 'Les artistes collectionneurs de dessins en Angleterre: une étude', in 'Rencontres internationales du Salon du Dessin: L'artiste collectionneur de dessin II: de Giorgio Vasari à aujourd'hui', 2007, p.40, and figs.7-8)
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number