- Museum number
Raffaello Vanni albums: study for a lunette; David at the left playing his harp, Saul at the right, barely visible behind a later study of a hand; a sketch of Goliath's head in the bottom left
Verso: study of the right portion of a lunette; head of a bearded man; a Madonna and Child
Black and white chalk on greenish paper
- Production date
- 1653 (circa)
Height: 198 millimetres
Width: 306 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- As is made clear by the inclusion of one of Raphael's famous pyramidal tombs, the drawing on the recto is a study for one of the two painted lunettes in the Chigi Chapel, S. Maria del Popolo, Rome (ill. A. Angelini, M. Butzek and B. Sani eds, ‘Alessandro VII Chigi (1599-1667): Il papa senese di Roma moderna’, exh. cat., Siena, 2000, p. 38). These were commissioned Cardinal Fabio Chigi (the future Pope Alexander VII) - Vanni's comatriot and ardent supporter - in 1653, as part of a campaign to restore and complete the chapel (an undertaking that brought Vanni into close collaboration with Bernini, whom Chigi had appointed to oversee the project). The drawing dates from a relatively early stage in Vanni's process: the putto at the left is yet to receive its final form, and the head of Goliath below him appears to have been added as an afterthought, but the beggest difference is the orientation of the drawing, which is in reverse to the final picture. The presence of faint, matt areas give grounds for suspecting that a counterproof has been taken from it, which would of course reproduce the design in the same orientation as the painting. In hindsight it is not surprising that Vanni began the composition in reverse, for the drawing reveals the extent to which the figure of David copies a pose Vanni had recently used for King Solomon in a fresco in the Palazzo Patrizi, Rome, executed between 1642-9 (ill. A.M. Pedrocchi ed., 'Le stanze del tesoriere: la quadreria Patrizi: cultura senese nella storia del collezionismo romano del Seicento', Milan, 2000, p. 26, fig. 10c). For Vanni reversing the used motif was thus an economic way to generate seemingly new forms out of trusted ones. His decision to reverse the design rendered the recto study redundant, and the right half was obliterated by a study of Saul's hand and elbow. Appearing in the orientation of the final picture, these details were clearly added after Vanni had resolved to reverse the design.
Vanni developed his preparations for the same lunette on the verso, adding a study of David's head that is heavily reliant on the Vatican Laocoön and his own earlier depiction of the king for the ceiling of San Vigilio, Siena (F. Bisogni and M. Ciampolini eds, 'Bernardino Mei e la Pittura Barocca a Siena', exh. cat., Siena, 1987, p. 173, fig. 88). In this company the idea for a lunette at the left – the earliest of the verso drawings – probably depicts an idea for the Chigi Chapel, but the comparative busyness of the scene and the remote subject matter, in which a woman is apparently crowned by a putto, mean that it would have to represent a very early idea indeed. Perhaps more clearly than the recto, however, it reveals the extent to which Vanni's method of conceiving compositions was indebted to Pietro da Cortona, a frequent collaborator to whom Vanni was greatly indented to as a painter, particularly, as has often been noted, in the early 1650s (especially surrounding Vanni’s fresco in SS. Trinità, Siena, of 1652). The unrelated Madonna and Child was seemingly the last study to be added.
Two further drawings for the Chigi Chapel survive in the Vanni albums, both for the other lunette: see 1886,0104.3.191 (verso) and 1886,0104.3.197. For a general description of the Vanni workshop albums see 1886,0104.3.1.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The register describes the vendor simply as "Mr Ready"
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number