- Museum number
The Sacrifice at Lystra (?); a figure kneeling before St Paul with raised right arm, a group of figures behind bringing animals to be sacrificed
Pen and brown ink, over traces of red chalk, brown wash, heightened with white (oxidised), on yellow-brown paper
- Production date
Height: 198 millimetres
Width: 274 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This was listed as 'Anonymous attributed to Veronese' in the departmental register and then moved to 'Anon School of Verona' in 1953. The attribution to Zelotti was made by James Byam Shaw in 1972 (pencil note on mount) after John Gere had alerted him to it being related to a drawing at Christ Church, Oxford (1325; Byam Shaw no. 790). Two years later Alessandro Ballarin inscribed the mount stating that for him the drawing was a copy after a lost composition by Paolo Veronese which he believed the Oxford drawing was preparatory (see 'Considerazioni su una mostra di disegni veronesi del Cinquecento', "Arte Veneta", XXV, 1971 p. 97). He thought that the inscription 'Paolo Veronese' was in the same ink as the drawing and was thus a note of the copyist recording his source. This is debatable because it is impossible to be sure that the artist was responsible for the inscription; moreover the drawing does not look like a copy. The figures sketched in at the right appear, for example, to be alternative ideas for some in the crowd to the right.of the saint and the whole manner of drawing is exploratory. The relationship with the Christ Church drawing and a copy the woman with two children on the left (1946,0713.1478) also suggest that the present drawing is a preparatory study. While in this drawing the woman steps on to the base of an altar and the right leg of the child beside her is covered in drapery, in both the Oxford and other BM drawing her foot is on a raised mound and the child's thigh is bare. In addition in the Oxford drawing the gesturing saint stands before a circular altar while in this drawing the altar is behind him to the left.
Byam Shaw's argued persuasively in the Christ Church catalogue that the related drawing there is not by Veronese, although he left it open as to its exact relationship with this one: 'whether ours is by Zelotti, or a copy from one of his paintings by a good hand, I am fairly confident that the British Museum drawing, which is rather more freely handled, is Zelotti's own'. The attribution to Zelotti is convincing as the figure types go well with his paintings - compare, for example, the woman in profile looking upwards with the figure of 'Astronomy' in the Villa Emo (Brugnolo Meloncelli 1992, fig. 160), or the Delphic priestess with Alexander in the fresco at Villa Roberti (fig. 69) with the woman seen from behind with children in the drawing. Although it is listed among the attributed drawings by Zelotti in the recent monograph it compares well with accepted drawings by him too, such as the 'Miraculous Draught of Fishes' in Turin (Brugnolo Meloncelli no. D20, fig. 242). Richard Cocke's grouping of it with works by Alvise del Frise is unconvincing since the drawings he gives to him are by different hands: for example, the entirely autograph study by Veronese at Chatsworth for the Bevilacqua-Lazise altarpiece in the Uffizi.
In the departmental register the subject is described as the Baptism of the Eunuch but this unlikely since the kneeling figure is not African. The present suggestion of the Sacrifice at Lystra takes account of the animals being brought to the altar, yet it is not entirely convincing as there should be two saints (Paul and Barnabas) rather than just one. Byam Shaw thought the figure might be Moses, in part based on Ridolfi's account of now lost scenes from the life of Moses on the façades of the Monte di Pietà, Vicenza. The low viewpoint of the drawing does suggest that the finished work was to be seen from below.
Lit.: J. Byam Shaw, 'Drawings by Old Masters at Christ Church, Oxford', Oxford, 1976, I, under no.790, fig. 51; R. Cocke, 'Veronese's drawings: a catalogue raisonné', London, 1984, no. 199 (as Alvise del Frise ? ); K. Brugnolo Meloncelli, 'Battista Zelotti', Milan, 1992, no. D.A. 25, p. 146 (as Attributed to Zelotti)
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number