- Museum number
An Allegory of Painting, composition study for an etching; in a wooded landscape many figures and putti drawing and painting, sculptural subjects, an angel and the Three Graces between, a man lying face down with hands tied at left foreground
Pen and brown ink, over black and red chalk
- Production date
Height: 266 millimetres
Width: 345 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit.: N. Turner, 'Italian Baroque Drawings', London, 1980, no. 16; N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no. 311
This beautiful drawing is a finished study, in reverse, for Testa's etching of the 'Allegory of Painting' (Bartsch, 1803-21, xx, p. 223, no. 29; Bellini, 1976, pp.48-9, no. 15; Philadelphia and Cambridge, Mass., 1988-9, no. 37), which is datable 1637-8. Although the positions of the figures in the drawing correspond closely to their printed counterparts, much of the detail remains to be supplied. Testa was, however, so expert in the technique of etching that he did not need to draw in every detail beforehand. A comparison between the area of foliage in the trees in the background in both print and drawing (easily done from the adjacent figs 37 and 38 in Philadelphia and Cambridge, Mass., 1988-9, pp. 72-3) shows the extent to which Testa did most of this work directly on to the plate.
Superimposed on the pen-and-ink drawing is an irregular pattern in red chalk, corresponding with the division of the work to be done on the plate (for a further discussion of this method of partitioning, see T,13.50). With this same chalk, the artist has made two corrections to the design itself: the addition of a branch to a tree to the upper left and the lowering of the position of the kneeling putto supporting the canvas. These changes were incorporated into the finished print, as was the emphatic re-drawing in pen and ink of the figure of Ephesian Diana on the left of that of the allegorical figure of Painting.
Literature: Harris, 1967, p. 52, n. 30; Hartmann, 1970, p. 158; Cropper, 1974, p. 377, pl. 20; Bellini, 1976, p.48, under no. 15; Turner, 1980, p. 50, no. 16; Philadelphia and Cambridge, Mass., 1988-9, p. 74, no. 38.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1988 Nov-Dec, Philadelphia MA, 'Pietro Testa', no. 38
1989 Jan-Mar, Sackler Museum, Mass., 'Pietro Testa', no. 38
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Inscribed by Crozat "11" at the lower right.
Inscribed on back of mount: "Bt at the sale of the Maq. de la Mura a Pris/for 90 liv. April 22, 1791"
Possibly de la Mure's sale, Paillet, Paris, 19 April 1791, though it has not been possible to trace a copy of the sale catalogue in London or Paris (Louvre, Bibliothèque Nationale)
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number