black chalk heightened with white chalk on blue paper. squared for transfer in black chalk. 147/8 x 111/8" (378 x 284mm). numbered l/r in an old hand: 13 . 6.
Though previously attributed to Gregorio da Ferrari,1 this drawing has recently been given to Gregorio's son Lorenzo by Mary Newcome Schleier who relates it to a drawing conserved at the Uffizi.2 The Uffizi sheet is a large, preparatory design for a very rococco ceiling in which two opposing ignudi seated atop a central column are featured. One of these ignudi is the figure of the present nude, though the pose differs somewhat. Ours is drawn from a live model so that the figure is perfectly understood before the ceiling is tackled. Indeed, judging from the grid work on our drawing, this pose was the final one, and the figure was transferred directly to the ceiling, section by section. Another related drawing, showing a section of the Uffizi design, is at Waddeston Manor.3 And a drawing in the Prado shows a similarly posed male youth within a painted architectural setting.
Lorenzo, in addition to being the son of an important painter, was also the grandson of Domenico Piola. It is said that Lorenzo's ceiling decorations evolved from the style and mannerisms of the Piola and his father, so that he often employed “ pairs of ignudi and corner ornament.”4 In the Gesu in Genoa, Lorenzo decorated four highly illusionistic cupolas . Its figures show the influence of Domenichino. The physiognomy of the nude and the sensual contour line of the present drawing are also reminiscent of that earlier Bolognese-Roman artist. During the same period, Lorenzo painted frescoes in the Palazzo Doria to commemorate a Doria marriage in 1738.
Lorenzo's complex decorative schemes were successful in part because of the many individual figure studies like the present that he made in preparation for them. These survive in large part in the Uffizi and at the Palazzo Rosso in Genoa.
Christies above mentioned catalogue, lot # 128.
Mary Newcome Schleier, Disegni Genovesi dal XVI al XVIII Secolo, Firenze, 1989, cat. # 110, pl.147.
Schleier, op.cit., pl.146.
Ezia Gavazza, Lorenzo de Ferrari, Milano, 1965.