- Museum number
Three studies of a scene from classical history (The surrender of Hannibal to Scipio Africanus ?); three lines of figures some on horseback, elephants in between, hills beyond
Pen and brown ink
- Production date
Height: 185 millimetres
Width: 295 millimetres
- Curator's comments
James Byam-Shaw was the first to note the drawing's affinities with two pen drawings of classical triumphs formerly in the C.R. Rudolf collection, London (both illustrated as figs 24-5 in the Brown article). These drawings plus two others in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and the Morgan Library, New York (Brown figs 26-7) have been tentatively related by Brown to Costa's six lost paintings of the 'fasti gonzagheschi', works celebrating Francesco II Gonzaga and his ancestors, in the Palazzo di San Sebastiano in Mantua. However, Brown does admit that the elephants in the BM drawing, which suggested to Popham and Pouncey a subject from the Punic Wars, perhaps Hannibals' surrender to Scipio Africanus after the battle of Zama in 202 BC., make it unlikely that it can have related to a cycle celebrating the Gonzaga. Giovanni Agosti in his discussion of the Costa as a draughtsman has noted the lack of firm evidence to connect this group with securely attributed studies by the artist. Another pen drawing related to this group was recently given to the Louvre (see Cordellier at al 2009, no. 1).
Lit.: A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 44, II, pl. XXXIX; C.M. Brown, 'The Palazzo di San Sebastiano and the art patronage of Francesco II Gonzaga, fourth Marquis of Mantua', "Gazette des Beaux-Arts", April 1997, pp. 131-180; G. Agosti, in exhib. cat., Florence, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, 'Disegni del Rinascimento in Valpadana', 2001, under no. 61, p. 298; D. Cordellier, L.-A. Prat and C. van Tuyll van Serooskerken, in exhib. cat.,Paris, Louvre, 'Maîtres du dessin européen du XVIe au XXe siècle: la collection Georges Pébereau', 2009, under no. 1
Lit: A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 44, II, pl. XXXXIX (with previous literature)
Popham & Pouncey 1950
The subject is possibly drawn from the history of the Punic wars and may represent the surrender of Hannibal to Scipio Africanus after the battle of Zama in 202 B.C.
Three studies, ranged one above another, for an oblong composition containing many personages, some riding horses, others elephants. In each case fighting is shown in progress on the l. and the centre of the composition is occupied by the formal meeting of two men. In two instances the l.-hand man (who has dismounted from an elephant) is kneeling on one knee. Landscape is indicated in the uppermost sketch. In the lowest, the grouping of the figures is emphasized by circles ringing the ground on which they stand.
Ascribed by Richardson to Polidoro da Caravaggio, to whom it was still attributed when it came up in the Sefi Sale. Byam Shaw has pointed out stylistic affinities to two drawings in the collection of C. R. Rudolf, London: (1) a pen and ink sketch, measuring 18.9 x 28 cm., representing figures (much larger than those in our drawing) seated in a chariot drawn by two men towards a group of horsemen on the 1. ; (2) a pen and ink sketch, measuring 8.4 x 29.6 cm., representing a victor (?) in his chariot drawn by two horses and preceded by a standard-bearer and drummers; on the 1. are numerous figures near the shore of a lake. The figures in this drawing are only very slightly larger than those in the present sheet. The stylistic connection between our drawing and (1) is so marked that there can be little doubt that both are by the same hand. By Berenson (1) is ascribed to Filippino Lippi (BB 1350 a), and the influence of this artist is indeed evident in the proportions of some of the heads; but it differs from Filippino's comparable sketches in that the figures are far less coherent in construction (cf. the study for the 'Triumph of S. Thomas Aquinas' in the Minerva, 1860,0616.75). The figures in (2) are very similar to ours, and if the general impression it gives is somewhat different this is due to the delicate pen hatching which makes the Rudolf drawing appear less schematic. The latter drawing, formerly in the Albertina, was there ascribed by Meder and Benesch to Lorenzo Costa. A close connection in mood and style with Costa's paintings executed for Isabella d'Esté, now in the Louvre, is unmistakable and the technique appears to be compatible with that of his study in the Uffizi for the 'Coronation of the Virgin' in S. Giovanni in Monte referred to under 1881,0709.76. It seems to us that the present drawing and those in the Rudolf Collection may be fairly confidently assigned to Costa's Mantuan period.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
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