- Museum number
Study for a figure of St John the Evangelist, in profile to right, with separate studies for his raised right hand
Red chalk, on blue paper
- Production date
Height: 394 millimetres
Width: 255 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The related drapery study cited below in the collection of Ralph Holland now belongs to Henning Hoesch (see Damm and Hoesch, 2017, no. 78).
Lit.: N. Turner, 'Italian Baroque Drawings', London, 1980, no. 29; N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no. 190; H. Damm and H. Hoesch, 'galleria portatile, Old Master Drawings from the Hoesch Collection', Petersberg, 2017, under no. 78, fig. 2
This is a study for the figure of St John the Evangelist in the altar picture 'St John the Evangelist Disputing the Subject of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin with the Church Fathers, SS Gregory, John Chrysostom and Augustine', which was painted in oil on the altar wall of the Cappella Cybo (second chapel on the right) in S. Maria del Popolo, Rome, in 1686 (Mezzetti, 1955, no. 110). The pose agrees almost exactly with that of the painted figure, which is seen on the left of the composition, though there are several variations in the drapery. The blank space at the bottom left of the figure corresponds with a portion of the figure of St Augustine who is shown seated in front of St John. Other studies for the figure, chiefly for the drapery, are in the Uffizi, Florence (inv.no. 14101 F; Florence, 1997, no. 134); the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf (inv.no.FP 14083 recto; Harris and Schaar, 1967, no. 344); the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin (inv.no.Kdz 7710; Berlin, 1969, no. 123); and formerly London art market (sale, Christie's, 30 March 1976, lot 19), now in the collection of Ralph Holland. According to Dreyer (Berlin, 1969, p.62, under no. 123), the drawing in Berlin (inv. no. 4994) published by Sobotka (1914, p. 32) as a study for the figure of St John, and accepted as such by Harris and Schaar (1967, p. 127), is a copy.
Maratti adjusted the pose of the figure of St John as the composition developed. In an early design for the composition in the Academia de San Fernando, Madrid (inv.no. 1816; Alcaide, 1965, no. 18; Mena, 1975, II, no. 170) the saint is seen in the bottom right, stooping, his back partly facing the spectator, his right arm raised and his left pointing downwards at the book held open in the lap of St Gregory who is seated in front of him. In three later compositional drawings, also in the Academia de San Fernando (inv. nos 1684, 1816 and 1683; Alcaide, 1965, nos 19, 20 (it should be 18 verso) and 21; Mena, 1975, II, nos 172, 170 and 173), St John is still shown standing on the right, but in profile, with one arm at his side and the other pointing down at the book held by St Gregory (the Academia de San Fernando drawings, including some not considered by Alcaide, are fully discussed by Mena, 1975, II, pp. 660-61). Three other compositional drawings, one formerly in the Rudolf collection and now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Bean, 1979, no. 277), a second at Chatsworth, Derbys (inv.no. 569; Pittsburgh, Cleveland and elsewhere, 1987-8, no. 47; Jaffé, 1994(b), no. 260), and a third in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle (Blunt and Cooke, 1960, no. 286), also show the saint in roughly the same position. It was only at a later stage that St John was placed, reversed, on the left-hand side with his right hand raised, pointing upwards to the sky, as in a fifth compositional drawing in the Academia de San Fernando (inv.no. 1519; Alcaide, 1965, no. 23; Mena, 1975, II, p. 950, no. 769, but perhaps a copy after Maratti by Pietro de' Pietri (q.v)), and in other more finished compositional designs in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (New York, 1967, no. 116) and in the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf (inv. no. FP 1131; Harris and Schaar, 1967, p. 127, under no. 342). A second compositional drawing in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Bean, 1979, no. 278), presumably drawn earlier than the studies just mentioned, shows the saint standing on the left with his right hand pointing at the book held by St Gregory and his left holding his cloak to his waist.
Literature: Dowley, 1957, p. 179, n. 33; Blunt and Cooke, 1960, p. 56, under no. 286; Harris and Schaar, 1967, p. 127, under no. 344; New York, 1967, p. 76, under no. 116; Mena, 1975. II, p.660; London, 1978, p. 84, under no. 260; Turner, 1980, no. 29; Pittsburgh, Cleveland and elsewhere, 1987-8, p.90, under no.47.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1978, BM, Gainsborough and Reynolds in the BM, no 260
- 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.
Purchased through the sale of duplicates from the Malcolm collection and recorded as Malcolm Addition 188.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number