- Museum number
The Death of Sinorix, study for an etching; with a man restraining two horses, another figure bending to protect two vessels in the right foreground, a statue and part of a building visible beyond
Pen and brown ink, brown wash
- Production date
Height: 285 millimetres
Width: 193 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit.: J.C. Robinson, 'Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.', London, 1876, no. 226* (the asterix denotes it was acquired after J.C. Robinson's involvement with the Malcolm collection); N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no. 314; M.C. Plomp, 'The Collector's Mark of Antoni Rutgers (1695-1778), in " 'Aus Quatre Vents', A Festschrift for Bert W. Meijer', Florence, 2002, p. 341, fig. 6
This is an early preparatory drawing for Testa's etching of 'Sinorix Carried from the Temple of Artemis' (Bartsch, 1803-21, xx, p.220, no. 19; Bellini, 1976, no. 19; Philadelphia and Cambridge, Mass., 1988-9, no. 53), which Cropper has dated c. 1640. The print represents the moment in the story, told by Plutarch ('Moralia', iv, 257E-258C), in which Sinorix, a Galatian tetrarch, is carried away to his chariot having been poisoned by Camma, a priestess of the cult of Artemis, with whom he was in love. Sinorix had murdered her husband, Sinatus, in order to pursue his courtship of her. Thereafter, Camma pretended to oblige him in his attentions and agreed to take his hand in marriage, on the condition that she was betrothed in the Temple of Artemis. To take her revenge, she there offered Sinorix a cup of poisoned milk and honey, having first drunk from it herself. She then cried out to the goddess that she had avenged her husband and would be happily united with him in death. Upon realising what had happened, Sinorix asked to be taken to his chariot, hoping that the jolting might save him, but he died that same night. On hearing this, Camma died contented.
In the drawing, Sinorix, supported by two attendants, appears on the left, while his chariot is drawn up behind him. Camma and her handmaidens are on the right behind an incense burner resting on a tripod, while in the background, among trees, is the statue of Artemis, goddess of the hunt and of Chastity, with her temple behind. Testa has made much of the antique paraphernalia in the right foreground - a vase, an incense burner and two urns - perhaps a recollection of the antique objects he copied with such care when employed by Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1657).
The drawing belongs to the earliest phase in the evolution of the design, before the artist had decided to present the composition in a horizontal format. A companion study from this same early moment, with an almost identical disposition of the figures but with the action apparently taking place within the temple, is in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin (inv. no. Kdz 15208; Cropper, 1984, fig. 48). The Berlin drawing is in pen and brown ink over black chalk and measures 322 x245 mm. Drawn to a slightly larger scale, it is more rapidly executed and evidently preceded the British Museum drawing.
The change to the horizontal format in the later phase of the composition is recorded in a further series of drawings. These have been discussed on a number of occasions, first by Vitzthum (1964, pp. 296-7), and more recently by Cropper (Philadelphia and Cambridge, Mass., 1988-9, pp. 107-17, cat.nos 54-8). In terms of its execution in pen and dark brown wash, the British Museum drawing most closely resembles what appears to be the first in this second group of studies, the beautiful double-sided sheet in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (inv.no.iv, 180h; Philadelphia and Cambridge, Mass., 1988-9, no. 55).
Literature: Robinson, 1869, no. 216; Robinson, 1876, no. 226; Marabottini, 1954, pp. 150, n. 16 (inv.no.incorrectly given as 1895,0915.60), 243, pl.LXVII, fig. 11; Vitzthum, 1964, pp. 296-7, pl. 44; Harris, 1967, p. 52, n. 27; Bellini, 1976, pp. 52-3, under no. 19; Cropper, 1984, pp.43-4, fig. 47; Philadelphia and Cambridge, Mass., 1988-9, no. 54 (inv. no. incorrectly given as 1895,0916.667 and provenance omitted); Turner, 1990, p. 321; London, 1996, no.48.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1988 Nov-Dec, Philadelphia MA, 'Pietro Testa', no. 54
1989 Jan-Mar, Sackler Museum, Mass., 'Pietro Testa', no. 54
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- For Rutger inscription see Plomp
Inscribed Crozat number no."32" at the lower right.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number