Cortona 1596 — 1669 Rome

Study of Two Arms Extended

black chalk on blue-grey paper. 8 x 83/4" (200 x 220 mm).

Anna Lo Bianco has confirmed the connection of these arm studies to figures in Cortona's great ceiling fresco in the grand hall of the Palazzo Barberini.1 Both arm studies belong to figures in the section illustrating Hercules Hunting the Harpy; the upper arm to the flying central figure, the lower, to one of the corner ignudi.2 Dr. Lo Bianca compares the present drawing to one by the artist in the British Museum (inv. #5211,23) which is for one of the same figures in the ceiling, the one with the extended upper arm of the present drawing.3 The British Museum sheet was executed in black chalk on grey paper. A further black chalk drawing, conserved at the Fogg Art Museum, exhibits a comparable technique and morphology of the out-stretched arm of an angel.4

Cortona labored on the Palazzo Barberini ceiling, arguably his greatest masterpieces, from 1631-1639. In his catalogue entry of the British Museum drawing, Nicholas Turner notes that few studies for that project have survived.5

While we think this lovely drawing aligns well with accepted comparables as mentioned, it is categorized as attributed to as a knowledgeable and notable scholar does not agree with the attribution.6


In an undated letter of about 10 years ago.


Illustrated in Giulio Briganti's Pietro da Cortona, Florence, 1962, pls. 130 &132.


Illustrated in Giulio Briganti's Pietro da Cortona, Florence, 1962, pl. 135.


Monguan and Oberhuber, I grandi disegni italiani del Fogg ArtMuseum di Cambridge, Milan, 1988, cat. #59.


Nicholas Turner, Italian Baroque Drawings, London, 1980, pp. 44-45, illus.


Jorg Martin Merz, some years a go.