- Museum number
Bessus brought into the presence of Alexander; a chained figure held by a soldier before a group of figures, a boy holding the Emperor's helmet, an encampment and trees behind
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash
- Production date
Height: 183 millimetres
Width: 252 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit.: A.E. Popham, 'Catalogue of Drawings in the Collection formed by Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart., F.R.S., now in the possession of his Grandson, T. Fitzroy Phillipps Fenwick of Thirlestaine House, Cheltenham', London, 1935, p. 141, no. 1 (as Ferri); N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no. 102
According to the account in Quintus Curtius, 'History of Alexander', vii, 26 and 36-43, Bessus, satrap of Bactria, murdered Darius, King of the Persians, at Ectabana in order to seek favour with Alexander the Great. Bessus, himself betrayed, was delivered, bound and stripped and with a chain around his neck, to Alexander who handed him over to Oxatheres, brother of Darius, to be bound to a cross, his ears and nose cut off and then shot with arrows.
This is one of a small group of drawings by an undistinguished Cortonesque artist, whose identity remains unknown. They include: 'Veturia and Volumnia Beseeching Coriolanus to Spare Rome' and the 'Sacrifice of Iphigenia' in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle (Blunt and Cooke, 1960, nos 728-9, as Romanelli); a 'Warrior Kneeling before a Statue' in the Palazzo Rosso, Genoa (inv. no. 1971, as Pietro da Cortona); and 'Scene from the Gerusalemme Liberata', Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden (inv.no. 1937-826, with an old attribution to Ciro Ferri). Since a number bear old attributions to Ciro Ferri, the two British Museum drawings are here classified as 'Follower of Ciro Ferri', though in addition to Ferri's influence, the drawings reflect a knowledge of Pietro da Cortona's work of the 1650s, in particular his frescoes on the ceiling of the Gallery of the Palazzo Pamphilj, Rome.
Yet another drawing from the group, the 'Stoning of St Stephen' in the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, Rome (inv. no. FC 129833), attributed to Ciro Ferri (though it is not included in Rome, 1977(b)), bears on the verso a sequence of signatures for receipts of money in the hand of a certain "Gio: Stefano Ferro", whose identity is apparently unknown, but who was doubtless a member of Ciro Ferri's family.
See also 1965,0410.5.
Literature: Popham, 1935, I, p.141, no.1 (as Ferri).
- Not on display
- Previous owner
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Thomas Lawrence (L.2445)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Samuel Woodburn (Christie's, 7.vi.1860/part of lot 684 'Mars and Venus, V. SAN GIMIGNANO; the martyrdom of St. Andrew, A. FALCONE; an angel in the clouds, D. FETI; and others, by C. FERRI, TEMPESTA, &c.', 11 in the lot, bt Phillipps £1-11-0)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Thomas Phillipps
Previous owner/ex-collection: Thomas Fitzroy Fenwick
Previous owner/ex-collection: Pierre Crozat (? A pair with 1946,0713.1315, which is demonstrably from Crozat's collection)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number