Modena 1637 — 1713 ?

The Penitent Magdalene
verso: One Hand Holding Another

brush & dark red wash with white heightening on buff paper. 81/2 x 111/4" (215 x 285mm). left corners made up. inscribed l/r: Celesti twice. two repaired corners.

A.O. Meyer (L. 1994);
Carl F. Rhodin (L. 2179).

Drawing, July/August 1988, in a review by Larry Turcic of a New York exhibition.

This robust and painterly drawing can be compared to a group of similar reddish colored wash drawings by Caula discussed by James Byam Shaw.1 These drawings are presently conserved in the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, the Lugt Collection, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. The Paris sheet bears a near-contemporary inscription: Sigismondo Caula Modenese....1637. Several of the studies were of single, heavily draped figures, as is the present drawing, and posed to emphasize the mass of the drapery, according to J.B. Shaw.

More recently, two additional single figure drawings in the same red wash with white heightening have been published.2 They are in the collection of the Musee des Beaux-Arts at Orleans. Of further interest for an understanding of Caula's graphic oeuvre are the versos of these sheets as each has a chalk drawing, one a study of drapery and a foot in black chalk, the other a partially draped male bending forward in red chalk.

Caula collaborated with Boulanger decorating the ducal court of the Estense at Sassuolo. His commissions in Modena were numerous. He painted for the churches, most notably, S. Carlo; for the sanctuaries where his most impressive decorative scheme is the grand cupola of the Sanctuaro di Fiorima on which he worked from 1681-1682; and the convents. For thirty years he was Court painter in the city of his birth.


J.B. Shaw, The Italian Drawings of the Frits Lugt Collection, Paris, 1983, Vol. I, p. 401.


Eric Pagliano, Dessins Italiens de Venise a Palermo, XV - XVIII siecle, Paris, 2003, pp.240-243, cat. #'s 143-144, illust.