- Museum number
half-length figure of a bearded man, wearing a fur-trimmed hat with a plume; writing at l, looking round to right
Pen and brown ink
Turner and Plazzotta 1991
His body is turned to the left as he reaches to open a casket on a table or block on the left; he looks to the right, over his left shoulder, as he does so.
- Production date
Height: 250 millimetres
Width: 205 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Turner and Plazzotta 1991 [Exhibition Catalogue]
The identity of the figure is not immediately apparent. He is clad in exotic attire and appears to be furtively removing something from the casket. The drawing may date to the 1630s and 1640s.
The condition of the drawing bears all the hallmarks of those kept in albums in the Casa Gennari; in particular, it has losses at the corners (now made up) and traces of paste stains in the four corners (these have been mostly removed by the restoration of the drawing; for a discussion of these quirks of condition, see Mahon & Turner, 1989, p. xxi). Furthermore, the holes in the darks caused by the action of the iron-gall ink were originally made good by small rectangular slips of paper, tinted blackish brown, almost certainly with iron-gall ink, and glued to the back of the sheet in a manner characteristic of the early repairs to the drawings by Guercino in the Casa Gennari (e.g., Turner and Plazzotta 1991, cat. no. 132 and Ff,2.139). These patches were removed in the course of the recent restoration of the drawing but had caused local staining on the old backing. One might conclude that the drawing, along with many others, was roughly torn from the Casa Gennari albums, presumably with a view to its sale; after having been crudely repaired in the manner described above and the damaged corners having also been made up with white paper slips, the sheet was laid down onto its present mid-eighteenth-century support by means of thirteen small, thin paper tabs. The mending of the holes in the drawing indicates that the substantial damage to the paper resulting from the acidic action of the iron-gall ink had occurred within the first hundred years or so of the drawing's existence. We are grateful to Mr Alan Donnithorne of the Western Pictorial Art Section of the Department of Conservation in the British Museum, who carried out the restoration of the drawing, for his help in compiling this entry.
Literature: Donnithorne, 'Early Approaches to the Conservation of Works of Art on Paper: Cleaning, Repair and Restoration', in V. Daniels (ed.), 'Early Advances in Conservation', in BM Occasional Paper no. 65, British Museum, London, 1988, pp.15-25, p. 19; Turner, 'Old Masters given to Museum', British Museum Society Bulletin, Spring 1988, p. 35, repr.; Mahon and Turner, The Drawings of Guercino in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, Cambridge, 1989, p. xxi, note 17.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1991 Jan-April, BM, Recent Acquisitions (no cat.)
1991 May-Aug, BM, Guercino, no. 124
- 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