- Museum number
Warrior wearing a plumed helmet, perhaps a study for a painting; just over half-length to left, drawing a sword
Pen and brown ink, over graphite
Turner and Plazzotta 1991
He is seen striding in profile to the left; in his left hand he holds the end of a scabbard, while with his right he draws his sword.
- Production date
Height: 248 millimetres
Width: 184 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This is perhaps a study for one of the protagonists in the painting 'Hersilia separating Romulus and Tatius', in the Louvre painted in 1645.
Turner and Plazzotta 1991
The black chalk underdrawing does not correspond with the penwork of the figure and may have been drawn as part of another preliminary sketch which the artist then abandoned.
This is perhaps a study for one of the protagonists in the 'Hersilia separating Romulus and Tatius' in the Louvre, painted in 1645 for Louis de La Vrillière as one of a series of paintings to decorate the gallery of his 'hotel' in Paris (Stephane Loire in Brejon &. Voile, 1988-9, no. 86; Salerno, 1988, no. 226). For other drawings connected with this commission, see Turner and Plazzotta 1991, cat. nos. 141-2. Some doubt about Guercino's authorship of 1986,0621.1 arises from the unrestrained quality of the draughtsmanship, particularly apparent in the plume and in the hair emerging from beneath the soldier's helmet; but although it is tempting to exclude Guercino's name on the grounds of such lack of control, there are good reasons for thinking that the drawing may indeed be by him. One is that it occupies a pivotal place in the evolution of the poses of the two principal soldiers. Whereas the position of the crooked right arm holding the sword relates to the soldier on the right, the figure's profile, with the light catching his nose and cheek and with his eye cast in deep shadow by the helmet, point to a resemblance, in reverse, to the principal soldier on the left. The link with the soldier on the left is further established by the strong harmony in style between the British Museum drawing and a drawing of the head and shoulders of a warrior in profile to the right and four separate studies for his head, formerly on the New art market (Colnaghi's, exh. cat., 7 May to 9 June 1984, no. 16, repr.) which is undoubtedly a study for this latter figure.
A second study for the soldier on the left from the semi-nude model, almost certainly from the life, and thus presumably made at an early stage in the genesis of the figure, was formerly on the London art market (sale, Sotheby's, 4 July 1977, lot 121).
It is worth mentioning two further drawings, whose relationship to the finished work is less clear. The first, in pen and wash, in the Lugt Collection, Institut Néerlandais, Paris, is of a soldier striding to his right and drawing his sword (inv. no. 522; Byam Shaw, 1983, no. 340). There are many points of similarity between this drawing and 1986,0621.1, though the figure is reversed and drawn with far greater restraint. The second drawing, in red chalk, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest (inv. no. 2316; Czére, 1989, no. 39), shows a bearded warrior, also with his head, though not his body, in profile to the left and apparently drawing a sword. This too has points in common with 1986,0621.1, though less obviously with the finished work.
Stephane Loire (in a letter to the Department) suggested that the figure depicted in 1986,0621.1 might be Mars, on account of the design of the helmet with its flamboyant plume (see the series of drawings for Guercino's lost painting of 'Cupid restraining the enraged Mars', Turner and Plazzotta 1991, cat. nos. 132-4 and Ff,2.135 and 1986,0621.13), but we find his identification less compelling.
Literature: Turner, 'The Mind of the Master', British Museum Society Bulletin, March 1987, p. 9; Turner, 'Old Masters given to Museum', British Museum Society Bulletin, Spring 1988, p. 35; Salerno, I Dipinti del Guercino, Rome 1988; Brejon de Lavergnee and Voile, Seicento, le siècle de Caravage dans les collections francaises, exh. cat., Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, 11 October 1988-2 January 1989, and Milan, Palazzo Reale, March-April 1989; Czére, Disegni di artisti bolognesi nel Museo delle Belle Arti di Budapest, exh. cat., Bologna, San Giorgio in Poggiale, Collezioni d'Arte e di Storia, 11 September-12 November 1989; Byam Shaw, The Italian Drawings of the Frits Lugt Collection, 3 vols., Institut Néerlandais, Paris, 1983.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1991 Jan-April, BM, Recent Acquisitions (no cat.)
- 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.
Turner and Plazzotta 1991
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.
The drawing has a Casa Gennari mount and is inscribed bottom left "17 P. Dol".
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number