- Museum number
Studies for the head of St Gregory and the eagle of St John the Evangelist
Black chalk, on blue paper
- Production date
Height: 403 millimetres
Width: 256 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit.: N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no. 191
The head is that of St Gregory who is seated on a throne in the bottom right of the altar picture 'St John the Evangelist Disputing the Subject of the Immaculate Conception with the Church Fathers, SS Gregory, John Chrysostom and Augustine' (for which see 1938,0611.7; see Mezzetti, 1955, fig. 23, for a detail of the whole figure of St Gregory). St John the Evangelist's eagle, which is also studied on the present sheet, stands in the painting on the same platform as St Gregory's throne, between the saint's right knee and St John's right leg, which conceals much of the left part of the eagle's body.
Like the figure of St John (for which see 1938,0611.7) that of St Gregory passed through several stages of evolution, though it seems always to have been shown seated with a book. The figure was once intended to appear on the left of the composition, looking inwards towards the right, in the direction of St John. It was then moved to the centre of the composition (see the drawing at Windsor Castle, inv. no. 4096; Blunt and Cooke, 1960, no. 286), before being placed at the right. The progress of the whole composition is fully discussed by the Westins (Philadelphia, 1975, pp. 53ff.)
Another study for the head of St Gregory appears on a sheet with drapery studies in a drawing in the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid (inv. no. 7970; Mena, 1984, no. 83), which is more rapidly executed than 1927,0518.6, and was presumably made before it. The head in the Madrid sheet also corresponds closely with the painted result, though it is held at a slightly different angle.
A rough pen study for SS Gregory and John Chrysostom (the saint seen behind the throne in the picture) is in the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf (inv. no. FP 540; Harris and Schaar, 1967, no. 343). A study for the figure of St Gregory alone, formerly in the collection of Sir John Pope-Hennessy, is now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (inv.no. 1981.364; Bean, 1982, p. 305, App. II). In this drawing the figure corresponds closely to the painted result, but the head, which was not the primary focus of the artist's attention, is somewhat feeble in expression. What appears to be a sheet of studies for the upper part of the figure of St Gregory is in the Fondazione Cini, Venice, as Cavedone (inv. no. 36137). A finished drapery study in the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf (inv. no. FP 13105; Harris and Schaar, 1967, no. 522; London and Edinburgh, 1973, no. 89) of the upper part of an ecclesiastic, apparently seated at a table, seems to be related to the Cini drawing, though its connection with the figure of St Gregory is more tenuous.
Literature: Mezzetti, 1955, p. 337, under no. 110; Blunt and Cooke, 1960, p. 56, under no. 286; Harris and Schaar, 1967, p. 127, under no. 343; Mena, 1975, II, p.660; Mena, 1976, p. 247, and n. 59; Bean, 1979, p. 211, under no. 277; Bean, 1982, p. 305, under App. II; Mena, 1984, p. 97, under no. 83.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number