- Museum number
Six figures in a composition of the Pool of Bethesda; a group of figures at right including a man half-rising from a bed, a man, seen from behind, standing at l
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash
Verso: Neptune driving three sea-horses
Pen and brown ink
- Production date
Height: 128 millimetres
Width: 172 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The Pierpont Morgan Library drawing and the Bernardi crystal based on the Pool of Bethesda composition studied in this drawing are illustrated in Parma Armani figs 222-3.
Lit.: P. Pouncey and J.A. Gere, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Raphael and his circle', London, 1962, I, no. 169, II, pls. 138-9; E. Parma Armani, 'Perin del Vaga: l'anello mancante', Genoa, 1986, p. 187 and under A. XIII, p. 286
Pouncey & Gere 1962
The figures on the recto occur in a composition of the 'Pool of Bethesda' known from a chiaroscuro woodcut, B. xii, p. 38, 14 (repr. 'Burlington', cii (i960), p. 8; an impression of this is in the BM 1860,0414.84). A circular variant of the composition, a drawing by Perino in the Pierpont Morgan Library (iv, 47; repr. 'Burlington', ut cit., p. 11), includes the group with Christ and the Cripple but not the single standing figure. The Pierpont Morgan drawing is a study for one of a series of six crystal plaques executed for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese by Giovanni Bernardi on designs by Perino, and there can be little doubt that these crystal-designs were adaptations of six rectangular frescoes painted by Perino c. 1538-9* in the Massimi Chapel in S, Trinità dei Monti (cf. J. A. Gere, 'Two Late Fresco Cycles by Perino del Vaga: the Massimi Chapel and the Sala Paolina', in 'Burlington', ut cit., pp. 9 ff.). The four smaller frescoes in the Chapel have completely vanished; but of the two larger ones, which represented the 'Raising of Lazarus' and the 'Pool of Bethesda', the former is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (repr. Gere, op. cit., p. 8) while the composition of the other is preserved in the chiaroscuro woodcut. 1946,0713.568 recto, so far as it goes, is in reverse to the chiaroscuro, as is a squared drawing of the whole composition in the Uffizi (1460F as Donducci; Gernsheim 2755). The direction of the fresco itself must have been that of the woodcut, in which Christ is pointing with his r. hand. These two drawings are likely therefore to have been made in the course of adapting the fresco composition for the woodcut. The flickering line and subtle play of light and shade in 1946,0713.568 reveal Perino's own hand; the Uffizi drawing is somewhat inferior in quality and could be the work of a studio-assistant.
The verso is livelier and more spontaneous, and is no doubt connected with one of Perino's representations of the 'Shipwreck of Aeneas' or 'Quos Ego'. A drawing of this subject in the Louvre (636; repr. Labò, opp. p. 44, and P. Askew, 'Burlington', xcviii (1956), p. 47) has been very plausibly connected, both by Labò and by Miss Askew, with the lost painting formerly in the Palazzo Doria at Genoa. 1946,0713.568 recto, however, dates from after the Genoese period, and the verso, which is not unlike the group in the Louvre drawing, could be connected with some such variant of the composition as the design at Windsor for a circular medallion (Popham 975). Perino also treated the subject in a drawing in the Ashmolean (Parker 731 ; also repr. Strong, 'Wilton', pl. 33) ; this bears a strong general resemblance to the well-known engraving by Marcantonio (B. xiv, p. 264, 352) and it seems possible that the latter may reproduce yet another design by Perino.
Another sheet of studies by Perino, of arms and horses' heads, may well be connected with 1946,0713.568 since the position of the arms is compatible with the pose of a Neptune in his chariot. This drawing was published by Fischel in an article on missing Raphael drawings ('Burlington', xx (1911/12), p. 301), in spite of the fact that Perino's authorship had already been suggested by Ruland (p. 273, no. 7). The drawing was published as a Raphael by a subsequent owner, Federico Gentili di Giuseppe ('L'Arte', N.S. iv (1933), p. 37).
* All circumstantial evidence supports the dating 1538-9 for Perino's activity in the Massimi Chapel. A possible obstacle is the statement by F. Bonnard ('Histoire du Couvent Royal de la Trinité du Mont Pincio à Rome', Rome-Paris, 1933, p. 33) that the patronage of the chapel was not granted to Angelo Massimi until 1 July 1542. An analogous case, however, is that of the Pucci Chapel in the same church. The patron of this chapel, the Archbishop of Corfù, states in his will that he has acquired it and that Taddeo Zuccaro has begun its decoration ('Rivista d'arte', xvii (1935), p. 219). The will is dated 14 Feb. 1565 and Zuccaro died in Sept. 1566; but according to Bonnard the patronage of the chapel was officially made over to the archbishop on 15 Sept. 1568. If Bonnard's interpretation of the relevant document and his reading of its date are correct it follows that a patron could have his chapel decorated before being formally endowed with the patronage.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number