Pistoia 1624 — 1703 Rome
Cupola Design with the Trinity and Angels bearing a baroque throne(?)
red chalk, red chalk wash applied w brush as is white gouache heightening. 91/8 x 101/8" (232 x 257mm).
Formerly attributed to Mastelletta, the present drawing is by the same hand as a cupola design attributed to Lazzaro Baldi in the Metropolitan Museum.1 The Met's drawing may well be an expanded idea for the same project, a design for a cupola of the Trinity with various saints and putti within a circular format. The Met drawing, close in size to our sheet, is drawn with different media, in black chalk on blue paper though also with white heightening; in our drawing the artist employs an atypical mixture of red chalk and red wash along with the white heightening. Still, morphological similarities in the drawing of hands, the angular jaws of some figures, the either disappearing hands and feet or both similarly abbreviated, along with the distinctive use of brushed on white gouache heightening, indicate the same hand. It is also likely that both compositions were prepared witht the same commission in mind. Another drawing attributed to Baldi, this in the Louvre (14082 recto), Martyrdom of Several Saints, is not only stylistically comparable but also technically, though the paper is likely badly faded from blue.2 Morphologically, the figures are the same, treatment or handling is the same, though again black chalk and grey wash is used, rather than the red of our drawing.
Though of Tuscan origin, Baldi worked primarily in Rome, first part of the workshop of Pietro da Cortona, and then on his own. He was very successful, receiving commissions to decorate churches in fresco or with altarpieces not just in Rome, but also in Tuscany and Umbria. He also decorated many private palazzi. But today he is not well-known, in part because his work was mostly religious, in part because his aesthetic was anti-classical and his figures, unlike in the present drawing, were sometimes thick and inelegant to our eye.
Baldi's numerous drawings, held largely in albums in German public collections, reveal a remarkable variety in his draughtsmanship and an active, inventive mind. Most of his extant drawings are quick sketches, unlike the worked up composition of the present work. Only the Louvre has a good number of compositional studies.
In Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, one finds a round ceiling fresco by Baldi of the Coronation of Santa Rosa. Christ is seated similarly but where the Father would have sat is instead a standing Madonna. Theses are significant differences from the compositions of the 2 drawings discussed above and thus it is doubtful they are directly related to this fresco. But it is worth noting as the idea was already in Baldi's mind for use in another project.
See the Met's web-site.
See Louvre web-site.