- Museum number
The Cumaean Sibyl; whole-length, seated on the ground, looking down to left, her arms raised holding a scroll
Metalpoint, heightened with white, on light brown prepared paper
- Production date
- 1488 (circa)
Height: 129 millimetres
Width: 110 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- As Scharf and Popham both observed, this is a study for the figure of the Cumaean Sibyl on the vault of the Carafa Chapel in S Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, a work commissioned in September 1488 and completed by the Spring of 1493 (see colour illustration of ceiling on p. 72 of Met. cat.). Another BM study for the same commission is 1860,0616.75 (Popham and Pouncey no. 131)
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, pp. 6-7, no. 2; A. Scharf, 'Filippino Lippi', Vienna, 1935, p. 40, no. 256, p. 80, fig. 161; B. Berenson, 'The Drawings of the Florentine Painters', Chicago, 1938, II, no. 1277D, p. 142 (1961 edition no. 1347D, fig. 223); A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 132 (with previous literature), II, pl. CXXVII; G. L. Geiger, 'Filippino Lippi's Carafa Chapel', Kirksville, Missouri, 1986, pp. 64-5, pl. 24; I.H. Shoemaker, 'Filippino Lippi as a Draughtsman', Michigan, 1993 (U.M.I. facsimile of 1975 Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, New York), no. 53, pp. 220-221; G.R. Goldner and C.C. Bambach, in exhib. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and His Circle', 1997, p. 202, fig. 41; P. Zambrano and J. Katz Nelson, 'Filippino Lippi', Milan, 2004, p. 582, no. 39.d.1.
Popham & Pouncey 1950
As Scharf was the first to point out, this is a study for the figure of the Cumaean Sibyl on the vault of the Caraffa Chapel in S. Maria sopra Minerva, Rome (see 1860,0616.75.) The figure on the vault corresponds fairly closely with the drawing. The drapery in the latter is more angular. Such differences as exist are very likely due to the drastic repainting to which the fresco has been subjected.
Vasari is usually credited with the statement that the vault of the Caraffa Chapel was painted by Raffaellino del Garbo, Filippino's pupil. This may indeed be inferred from a passage in the life of Raffaellino (iv, p. 235) in which Vasari says that this artist painted the vault in the Minerva "intorno alla sepoltura del cardinal Caraffa"; for in the life of Filippino (iii, p. 469), he says that the cardinal was buried in the chapel in the Minerva containing the frescoes of the 'Triumph of S. Thomas' and the 'Assumption of the Virgin', a statement confirmed by Ciaconius and by Litta. But if Vasari is indeed referring to the 'Sibyls', large-scale figures, fairly far removed from the spectator's eye, it seems strange that he should single out for special comment the miniature-like quality of the execution. Uncertainty as to whether he had this particular vault in mind is increased by the fact that in describing the chapel in the life of Filippino he makes no reference to Raffaellino, whose name is not introduced until a few lines lower down, where Vasari relates how Filippino was recalled from Florence to Rome in order to make a stucco tomb for the cardinal "e, di gesso, in uno spartimento della detta chiesa (the Minerva), una cappellina allato a quella, ed altre figure; delle quali Raffaellino del Garbo, suo discepolo, ne lavorò alcune". No record appears to have survived of such work; and it may well be that Vasari is guilty of inventing a second Caraffa chapel of small dimensions. But it is noteworthy that once again he lays stress on the small scale of the work. The phrase that he employs in praise of Raffaellino's vault, that it was "tanto fine che par fatta da miniatori", certainly seems to be more applicable to a 'cappellina' than to a 'cappella'.
At all events there can be no question but that our drawing is by Filippino, to whom Berenson and Scharf agree in assigning it.
Literature: BB 1277D; Fenwick Catalogue, 1935, p. 6, no. 2, pl. IX; A. Scharf, op. cit., p. 40, cat. no. 256, fig. 161.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number