- Museum number
A group of eleven figures including a man seen from behind in the foreground
Pen and brown ink
- Production date
Height: 148 millimetres
Width: 140 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The authorship of this sheet has proved challenging, not helped by the difficulty of interpreting the inscription and identifying its scribe. Popham's attribution to Bertoia was accepted in part by De Grazia, who gave the sheet to either Bertoia or Mirola, whilst also speculating that it might be the work of another artist in their circle, like the mysterious Giuseppe Fantuzzi - especially if the inscription does indeed refer to Mirola. Ekserdjian has since felt more confident in advocating Mirola's authorship, grouping it with three drawings given to him by De Grazia, all apprently connected in some way with the Sala del Bacio: in the Uffizi (9229S), the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris (no. 48) and the Metropolitan Museum, New York (inv. 66.32; as attributed to Mirola), which has a direct relationship with the Sala.
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', I, London, 1935, p. 32, no. 1 (as Giovanni Francesco Bezzi, called Nosadella); A.E. Popham, 'Italian drawings in the BM, Artists working in Parma in the Sixteenth Century', London, 1967, I, no. 235, II, pl. 148; D. De Grazia, 'Bertoia, Mirola and the Farnese Court', 1991, pp.179-80 [D/att 2]; D. Ekserdjian, in 'La Maniera Emiliana: Bertoja, Mirola, da Parma alle corti d'Europa', exh. cat., Labirinto della Masone, Fontanellato, 2019, pp. 94, 96, no. 8.
The old mount, now removed, bore an attribution to Giovanni Francesco Bezzi, il Nosadella. This was accepted in the Fenwick Collection Catalogue, but I cannot now see any resemblance between this drawing and those generally accepted as being by Nosadella. Though the line is a little less firm and precise than is usual with Bertoja, I think that the chiaroscuro and the grouping of the figures both point to him, as Signora Quintavalle was the first to suggest. The drawing may be compared with two studies for the Sala del Bacio in the Palazzo del Giardino in Parma, in the Uffizi (9229S, as Parmigianino) and the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris (3337), repr. by Quintavalle, fig. 58 and pl. xxxviib & respectively, the latter wrongly described as being in the Rorimer Collection, New York.
Signora Quintavalle claims that the inscription reads: "'O.mo (i.e. onorandissimo) Amicho mi carissimo Mirollo assodic. . .', che è evidentemente una dedica scherzosa e più che confidenziale del Bertoja all'amico e collaboratore", and that the drawing is a study for the paintings in the Sala del Bacio. This type of inscription, generally quite inconsequent and tailing off into nonsense, often occurs on drawings where the artist seems to have been trying his pen. Her reading of one word as 'Mirollo' does not seem to me necessarily correct : the word is certainly not spelt with a capital 'M' as she transcribes it, though that in itself does not exclude the possibility. It is unfortunate that her book contains no reproduction of a specimen of Bertoja's handwriting. I do, however, think that she is in all probability right in claiming the drawing for Bertoja and in connecting it with the Sala del Bacio.
Literature: Popham, Fenwick, p. 32; Quintavalle, Bertoja, p. 54.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2019 Mar-May, Italy, Fontanellato, Labirinto della Masone, Bertoja-Mirola
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number