- Museum number
Adoration of the Shepherds, study for a lunette; the Virgin seated with the Christ Child at centre, flanked by three men looking on, putti behind, lunette
Black chalk, with brown wash, heightened with white, on brown prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 169 millimetres
Width: 304 millimetres (semicircular)
- Curator's comments
- Lit.: N. Turner, 'Italian Baroque Drawings', London, 1980, no. 28; N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no.
This is a study for a fresco in the lunette on the right-hand wall of the Alaleona Chapel (first chapel on the right) in S. Isidoro, Rome, dedicated to St Joseph, the decoration of which was carried out by Maratti in 1651-6 (Mezzetti, 1955, pp. 335-6, under no. 102). The drawing resembles the finished fresco in composition and lighting, though there are many slight variations in the poses of the figures. In the preparatory sketch, particular attention is paid to the light emanating from the Christ Child, which is painted with the brush in white bodycolour onto a darkish, prepared ground. A sheet of studies in red chalk for the figure of St Joseph is in the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf (inv. no. FP 13776; Harris and Schaar, 1967, no. 182, repr.), while two further sheets of studies for some of the details of the other figures are in the Academia de San Fernando, Madrid (inv.nos 1221 and 1394; Mena, 1975, II, p. 555, nos 23-4).
A painstaking copy of this drawing is in the British Museum (see 1988,1105.91 (35)). A drawing of the same composition in the Albertina, Vienna (inv. no. 1050; Birke and Kertész, 1992-7, I, p. 537), identified as Maratti (but apparently a copy), seems to have been inspired by the fresco.
Literature: La Chronique des Arts, no. 1261, February, 1974 (supplement of Gazette des Beaux-Arts, lxxxiii, 1974), p. 170, no.573; Roberts, 1976, p. 175; Turner, 1980, no.28; London, 1984(a), no. 32; Tokyo and Nagoya, 1996, no. 85.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1976 BM, 'Recent Acquisitions', (no cat.)
1984 BM, 'Master Drawings and Watercolours in the British Museum', no.32
1996 Feb-Apr, Tokyo, Nat Mus Western Art, Italian Drawings/BM, no.85
1996 Apr-May, Nagoya, Aichi Pref Mus of Art, Italian Drawings/BM, no.85
2006-7 Nov - Jan. BM, Nativity show (no cat.)
2019, 13 Sep–13 Dec, USA, University of San Diego, University Galleries, Christ: Life, Death and Resurrection, Italian Renaissance Drawings & Prints from the British Museum
2020, 25 Jan–28 Sep, USA, Santa Fe, New Mexico Museum of Art, The birth, death and resurrection of Christ: from Michelangelo to Tiepolo
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number