- Museum number
St Mary Magdalene succoured by angels, with two figures kneeling before her
- Production date
Height: 153 millimetres
Width: 250 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Ann Sutherland Harris in her 2001 review dated the drawing to the 1620s.
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. 127, no. 1 (as Berrettoni); J. Stock and D. Scrase, exhib.cat., Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, `The Achievement of a Connoisseur. Philip Pouncey`, 1985, no. 56; N. Turner, in exhib. cat., BM, 'The Study of Italian Drawings: The Contribution of Philip Pouncey', 1994, no. 56; N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no. 286; A. Sutherland Harris, review of Turner 'Roman Baroque Drawings', "Master Drawings", 39, Winter 2001, p. 424
This was traditionally given to Niccolò Berrettoni, (q.v.) under whose name the drawing entered the Museum with the Fenwick collection. According to Popham, an old attribution to this artist was inscribed in pencil on the reverse of the old backing, now no longer visible because of the attachment of the drawing to the standard museum mount. Sacchi's authorship was first proposed by Pouncey.
No painting by Sacchi of this subject seems to be known, though a 'Magdalene with angels' by Sacchi fetched £43-is-od in Lord Pomfret's sale in 1754, 3rd day, lot 38 (see Harris, 1965, p. 689, n. 1). A picture cited in the inventory of the artist's effects as "un quadretto senza cornice con la Madalena" (Harris, 1977(a), p. 106, no. 1. 16, and p. 120, no. 168) could also indicate that such a work once existed, though the title might refer to a 'Noli me tangere', a composition for which a number of drawings given to Sacchi have survived (see T,12.38; as Camassei, but traditionally given to Sacchi).
The two faint vertical lines drawn freehand, one about a third of the way across the sheet, cutting off the two angels kneeling to the left, and the other about an inch-and-a-half from the right edge, curtailing the wings of the angel to the right supporting the saint, indicate that probably in the end the artist opted for a more focused composition than that first adumbrated. He reinforced this adjustment by indicating along the right side of the first line the profile of a rock from the top of which leans the crucifix, at which the saint gazes. This change replaced pentimenti for the pointing left hand of the right-hand angel in the pair on the left of the composition, a gesture presumably intended to link the group more successfully with that of the saint.
A variant for the group of the saint and surrounding angels to the right of the drawing survives in a red chalk drawing after Sacchi in the Uffizi, Florence, where it is placed with the drawings of Sébastien Bourdon (1616-71) (inv. no. 8129 s; 225x170mm, inscribed in ink, bottom left: "Bourdon f"). Five angels, instead of three, appear behind the Magdalene, and of the three that are standing, one holds tresses of the saint's long hair while the other two are about to apply ointment from a jar to her face. The Florence drawing is too feeble to be anything other than a copy, and it is unlikely to be by Bourdon. However, it is unclear whether it was made from a painting or another drawing, though the latter seems more likely.
Literature: Popham, 1935, I, p.127, no. 1 (as Berretoni); Cambridge, 1985, no. 56 (as Sacchi).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1985 Oct-Dec, Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, 'Philip Pouncey', no. 56
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number