- Museum number
'Christ disputing with the Doctors', after Guercino; Christ on a platform seated towards two doctors who are seated in the foreground to left, in front of him three more doctors who appear to be discussing the contents of a book, which they pass among themselves; two doctors stand behind this group, apart from each other, attentively observing the proceedings; in the background can be seen the heads of several spectators.
Pen and brown ink and wash
- Production date
Height: 283 millimetres
Width: 435 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Turner and Plazzotta 1991
This is a facsimile copy after a drawing by Guercino formerly in the Denon collection and now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California (inv. no. 84.GG.23; Goldner, 1988, no.16). Guercino's drawing is one of a number of studies made by him to assist his follower Antonio Bonfanti, called il Torricella, with the execution of a painting of this subject, datable before 1627, for the church of S. Francesco, Ferrara (repr. Riccomini, 1969, pl.20).
Francesco Bartolozzi first learnt the art of engraving from his father, a Florentine goldsmith. He later entered the Florentine Academy and studied under Ignace Hugford and Gian Domenico Ferretti (1692-between 1766 and 1769). Subsequently he went to Rome to copy the antiquities there and then to Venice (1745) where he entered the shop of the engraver Joseph Wagner (1706-80). He arrived in England in 1764 at the request of Richard Dalton, Librarian to King George III, to begin work on a series of engravings after drawings by Guercino in the Royal collection (for Bartolozzi's involvement in this project, see Mahon & Turner, 1989, pp. xxix-xxxi). He worked for several publishers including John Boydell, in particular, and spent most of the rest of his life in this country. In 1802 he accepted the post of Director of the National Academy, Lisbon, where he died after some years.
Bartolozzi made several facsimile copies after Guercino, probably in connection with his numerous engravings after the master's drawings, and a large group of such copies survives in the Albertina in Vienna (Stix & Fröhlich-Bum, 1926, nos. 435, 439-43, 445-8, 450, 452-6). Gg,3.387 may also be an instance of a drawing made in connection with a print, but Riccomini (1969, p. 38, under nos. 49-50), who mentions an engraving by Bartolozzi after Guercino's drawing, gives no reference, and we have hitherto been unable to trace it. The Malibu drawing was also engraved in reverse by the Frenchman Baron D. Vivant-Denon, while it was in his own collection (it bears the inscription "Tiré du Cabinet de M.r Denon".), and is one of the plates in Albert de la Fizelière, 'L'Oeuvre originate de Vivant-Denon', Paris, 1873 (vol. I, p. xi, no. 33 in a list of plates entitled 'Table Générale', inv. no. 1876,0708.869; there are two other impressions in the Department: U. 4-89 and 1856,0209.836).
All of Bartolozzi's drawings of this type are remarkable for their accuracy and for the understanding they show of Guercino's style. Also characteristic of Bartolozzi is a tendency to prettify the faces of the figures, though in the case of Gg,3.387 this cannot be said to be so. Since this tendency is absent or less evident in his earliest etchings after Guercino, it may indicate a relatively early date for the present drawing. Moreover, there is no evidence to show that the Malibu drawing was ever in England: indeed, as mentioned above, it was from an early date in the collection of Vivant-Denon, who acquired many of his drawings from the Zanetti Collection in Venice. This might imply that Bartolozzi could have made this copy when Guercino's original drawing was still in the Casa Gennari (for Bartolozzi's activity as a copyist of Guercino's drawings in the Casa Gennari, see Mahon & Turner, 1989, p. xxx, and see the Introduction to Turner and Plazzotta 1991).
Literature: Binyon, Catalogue of Drawings by British Artists and Artists of foreign Origin working in Great Britain, preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, 4 vols., London, 1898-1907, I, p. 79, no. 1; Goldner, European Drawings, I: Catalogue of the Collections, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California, 1988;Mahon and Turner, The Drawings of Guercino in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, Cambridge, 1989; Riccomini, Il Seicento ferrarese, Milan, 1969; Stix & Fröhlich-Bum, Beschreibender Katalog der Handzeichnungen in der Graphischen Sammlung Albertina: Band I, Zeichnungen der Venezianische Schule, Vienna, 1926.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1969, BM, 'Royal Academy Draughtsmen 1769-1969', no.82
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number