- Museum number
St Benedict in the wilderness receiving bread from the crow; bearded saint kneeling before a crucifix on a rock, crow with bread in beak on branch of tree behind, landscape with mountains in distance
Pen and brown ink, with grey wash, over black chalk
- Production date
Height: 340 millimetres
Height: 398 millimetres
Width: 306 millimetres (mount)
Width: 249 millimetres (sheet)
- Curator's comments
- N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no. 39
When in the Clifford collection, this drawing was believed to be by the Bolognese painter Lionello Spada (1576-1622), and it was later sold under this name by Powney. The present attribution to Canini is the present author's.
The drawing depicts St Benedict (c. 480-547), the founder of the oldest Western monastic Order, kneeling in the wilderness in adoration of the crucifix. In the top right, perched on a branch of a tree, a raven holds in its bill the poisoned loaf of bread that the wicked priest Florentinus had sent him, so consumed was he by jealousy at the superior sanctity of Benedict. Aware of the treachery of Florentinus, the saint threw the loaf on the ground and ordered a tame raven, which was domesticated in the nearby monastery, to carry it away and place it beyond the reach of any living creature.
Like 1986,0510.3, this is a study for a print by Cornells Bloemaert, and, like the following drawing, it is in the same direction as the finished result. It differs markedly from the printed composition, however, by showing a more expansive 'baroque' design, with St Benedict represented with his arms flung open, and by omitting the monastery of Monte Cassino in the background. Nevertheless, the additions of black chalk (scarcely visible in reproduction) correspond exactly with the outlines in the engraving, including the saint's clasped hands in front of his beard, the indications of drapery beneath the costume drawn in pen and wash and the profile of the Abbey of Monte Cassino behind and to the right. It is as if the artist had superimposed the outlines of his final composition over his looser, more pictorial first idea.
Literature: Turner, 1978, p. 392, pl.9.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1995-6 Nov-Apr, 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.
A note on the mount indicates the drawing later belonged to Eric Hancock.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number