- Museum number
A fight of Tritons and Seahorses and a separate sketch of a dog
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, over black chalk
Vero: Studies of legs and hands
- Production date
Height: 214 millimetres
Width: 201 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit.: N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no. 364; N. Turner, 'Three Drawings by Pellegrino Tibaldi', in S. Béguin et al., 'Scritti di storia dell'arte in onore di Jürgen Winkelmann', Naples, 1999, pp. 354-5, figs. 1 and 2
On entering the collection the drawing was attributed to the Carracci. "Giuseppe Cesari" is inscribed in pencil in Popham's hand on the old inlay. The present attribution to Tibaldi was suggested by Walter Vitzthum.
Around 1550, Tibaldi was summoned to Bologna by Cardinal Giovanni Poggi to paint a number of decorative cycles in the Palazzo Poggi (Winkelmann in Fortunati Pietrantonio, 1986, II, p. 482). Among them are the scenes from the 'Odyssey', painted in 1551-3 on the vaults of two ground-floor rooms of the palace, which are without question his finest pictorial achievement.
The present drawing appears to be a study for the fresco of 'Neptune in his Chariot' from this cycle illustrating the 'Odyssey' (reproduced by Winkelmann in Fortunati Pietrantonio, 1986, II, p. 522). In the fresco two tritons each lead a pair of sea-horses to harness to the chariot in the right foreground, on which reclines an indolent-looking Neptune; in the distance, to the right, is the boat carrying Ulysses and his companions. In the drawing, there are only two sea-horses, instead of four, and both tritons are reining in the rearing sea-horse on the left, instead of one each of the pairs in the fresco. In spite of these differences, the central action of bringing the animals to harness is the same. In the drawing, the interconnecting movements of men and animals, with corkscrew fish-tails, disposed in a frieze and echoing the curling motion of the waves, have the same rhythms as their painted counterparts. Moreover, the triton on the left, with a pointed snout and thick expressive lips, who has his back half turned to the spectator, is much the same as the one in the same corresponding position in the fresco.
The recto study has all the characteristic brio and strength of line that are so much the hallmark of Tibaldi's draughtsmanship in pen and wash. Some passages indicate the artist's change of mind as he drew -for example, the head of the triton on the right and the head and mane of the sea-horse behind him. The sketch of a dog, in the top left, crouching on the ground in profile to the right and similar in build to a greyhound, is so far unexplained, though a corresponding animal may well appear in another of the fresco panels in the two rooms of the palace.
The technique of the verso study is consistent with that of Tibaldi's other finished drawings in black chalk. Elaborate examples of the type, much influenced in their style of execution by Daniele da Volterra's meticulously executed, highly finished drawings in the medium, are among Tibaldi's best-known works. They include the 'Seated Sibyl' in this collection (inv. no. Pp, 2.187; Gere and Pouncey, 1983, no.268) and the 'Kneeling Woman and Child Seen from the Rear', formerly on the art market, New York (sale, Christie's, 30 January 1998, lot 16).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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