black chalk, white gouache applied w point of a brush on reddish-orange prepared paper. 153/8 x 103/8" (39 x 26.3cm).
This elegant drawing is a preparatory study for the drapery behind the bed of Cleopatra in the Death of Cleopatra, a monumental painting of 1765 in the historic collection of Zucchi Castellani in Pontremoli, near Carrara in Tuscany.
In recent history, the painting seems first to have been known by Federico Zeri, who cited it as in the Zucchi Castellani Collection in 1970.1 It was published by GianCarlo Sestieri in 1994 in his enormous Repertorio della Pittura Romana della Fine del Seicento e del Settecento. 3 vols.2 More recently, Tellini Perina has written a monograph on Bottani wherein the present drawing is published as well as the painting to which it was connected by her.3
Bottani began drawing under the direction of Vicenzo Meucci and studied the works of del Sarto, Raphael, the Carracci, and the Antique. Thus nurtured in the 16th century tradition of drawing the nude and drapery, his understanding of these elements and his perfection in painting them was assured. His career progressed easily from works for the churches of Rome, the Papal States as well as the rest of Italy and Europe, to commissions from princely families and membership in the Accademia di San Luca. His idealized figures and graceful compositions were greatly prized. Bottani's first biographer, Orazio Marrini, recorded works done for the churches of Ireland and Poland. Even before the artist returned to the north of Italy to live, his work was in demand in Milan. His style helped revive Roman-Bolognese Classicism there as elsewhere in Lombardy. The Death of Cleopatra is considered one of two of his great historical works. Bottani also produced landscapes with biblical and mythological scenes, several of which were bought for King George III, as well as great allegorical paintings and portraits. His was a was highly successful career.
on the web, see Fondazione Zeri.
published by Umberto Allemande, Torino, 1994.
See Litt., Perina.