- Museum number
Fabula, Luriaeis et Enicas; with classical architecture including a doorway beyond
Red chalk, over an offset of a red chalk drawing
- Production date
Height: 209 millimetres
Width: 149 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Ann Sutherland Harris in her review accepted Nicholas Turner's revision of her view on the BM drawings's relationship with the one in Philadelphia.
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. 161, no. 3; N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no. 280; A. Sutherland Harris, review of Turner 'Roman Baroque Drawings', "Master Drawings", 39, Winter 2001, p. 424
As Popham pointed out, the composition is connected with one of the engraved plates in Giovanni Battista Ferrari's 'De florum cultura', published in Rome in 1633, the first treatise on floriculture and a sumptuous example of book production in the Italian Baroque period. Topics such as garden layout, the cultivation of different species of flower, including some imported varieties, and general horticulture are discussed. Apart from plates of flowers, 'parterres', garden implements and so forth, there are seven allegorical plates, including the frontispiece, representing the seven days in the life of Flora, of which Sacchi's 'Limax and Brucas Transformed by Flora' is one. Six of the allegorical plates were engraved by Johann Friedrich Greuter (c. 1590-1662) and a seventh by Claude Mellan (1598-1688). Other artists to furnish the designs were Pietro da Cortona (q.v.), Giovanni Lanfranco (q.v.) and Guido Reni (1575-1642), all of whom were admired in the Barberini circle, whose family emblem of three bees appears above the cartouche over the doorway leading to the garden in the right background of the present sheet.
Limax, the angry, recoiling figure on the right, was appointed custodian of the garden by Flora, but neglected his work, allowing nettles to choke the flowers and his brother Brucas to steal golden fruits from the garden. Flora, with four nymphs representing the Seasons, confronted the brothers and was so infuriated by their denials that she transformed them into a slug and caterpillar respectively (Ferrari, 1633, pp. 50-55).
The corresponding engraving by Johann Friedrich Greuter (Nagler, 1835-52, v, p.367), on page 55, reverses the composition, the engraved image measuring 192.5x140mm, and the platemark 196x142mm. The same copper plate was again used for the Italian version of the book, 'Flora overo cultura di fiori', Rome, 1638, a copy of which Sacchi himself owned (Harris, 1977(a), p. 101, under no. 83, n. 2). Although the verso has not been rubbed with black chalk or any other preparation customarily employed to facilitate such a transfer, the principal outlines give the impression of having once been gone over, perhaps in metalpoint.
The British Museum drawing is offset from Sacchi's original study in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (inv. no. 28-42-4043; Philadelphia, 1975, no. 56, as "follower of Andrea Sacchi"). The hatching in the British Museum drawing slants from lower right to upper left, instead of from lower left to upper right as in any drawing by a right-handed draughtsman, and like most counterproofs, the line lacks definition. Confirmation that the British Museum drawing was taken from the Philadelphia drawing is provided by the irregular line that runs roughly horizontally across the middle of the sheet, a defect that corresponds to the central crease in the Philadelphia drawing. Among the freehand additions to the British Museum offset is a second position for the head of Limax, shown reclining on the ground in the lower right of the composition. This refinement to the pose of the figure had not been arrived at in the Philadelphia drawing, but was later adopted in the print.
Literature: Popham, 1935, I, p. 162, no. 3 (as Sacchi); Harris, 1965, pp. 573-5; Harris and Schaar, 1967, p. 20, n. 23; Harris, 1971, p. 388, under no. 3; Harris, 1977(a), p. 101, under no.83; Macandrew, 1980, pp.217-18, under no. A130; Freedberg, 1989, p.45, fig. 5.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Ottley provenance not certain
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number