Description & Technical information

This fine drawing is a preparatory study for Bernardo Strozzi’s painting of Saint Paul in the collection of the Museo di Palazzo Rosso in Genoa. The painting is recorded in the Sala dell’Estate of the Palazzo in the middle of the 19th century. The present sheet has been described by the Strozzi scholar Luisa Mortari as ‘Definitely a preparatory drawing, and of great quality, for the painting of the same name in Genoa...It is brought to its ultimate fulfilment by the artist with a decisive pictorial sense, like few other single figure drawings [by Strozzi].’

Among stylistically and thematically related drawings is a very similar study of a bearded man, also from the Sagredo collection and later in that of Jean Bonna in Geneva, which was sold at auction in London in 2019, as well a drawing on the verso of a double-sided sheet, likewise from the Sagredo collection, in the Louvre.

The present sheet, like many of Strozzi’s surviving corpus of drawings, was formerly part of the Sagredo collection in Venice, and bears the inscription ‘P.G.’ (for ‘Prete Genovese’), together with a number, associated with that provenance. It is thought that most, if not all, of the drawings by Strozzi marked with a ‘P.G.’ inscription and number were once part of a single album in the Sagredo collection. The album must have contained at least a hundred drawings by Strozzi, since extant sheets inscribed ‘P.G.’ bear numbers between 3 and 99. Other drawings by Strozzi with a Sagredo provenance are today in the Cleveland Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, and elsewhere.

The provenance of most of the drawings in the Sagredo collection - aptly described by one modern scholar as ‘the most important collection of drawings in eighteenth-century Venice as well as one of the richest in Europe’ - can be traced to the great Venetian collector Zaccaria Sagredo (1653-1729). Although the collection had been begun by his uncle, Doge Niccolò Sagredo, in the middle of the 17th century, it was Zaccaria Sagredo who was responsible for greatly expanding it. As Roger Rearick has noted, ‘Zaccaria was the most voracious of the Sagredo collectors, purchasing numerous drawings from every school and period, and making the Sagredo collection one of the most distinguished and certainly among the largest cabinets in Italy prior to his death in 1729.’ Zaccaria bequeathed the collection to his nephew and heir, Gherardo Sagredo (1692-1738). At the latter’s death in 1738, an inventory of the collection noted some 8,000 drawings, almost all of which were assembled into fifty-seven albums, as well as more than 22,000 prints. Gherardo’s widow, Cecilia Grimani Sagredo (b.1686), tried to sell the collection en bloc but was only able to dispose of parts of it, while the rest was inherited by her two daughters. At some point in the late 18th or early 19th century some of the Sagredo drawings were acquired by a collector in Lyon, thought to be the landscape draughtsman Jean-Jacques de Boissieu (1736-1810). Large groups of drawings from the collection were later dispersed in Lyon, just after the First World War.

Black chalk, heightened with touches of white chalk, on buff paper, laid down.

Medium: Black chalk, White chalk
Signature: Inscribed dal tintoretto in brown ink at the upper left.
Numbered and inscribed 3 / P.G. no 27 on the backing sheet.

Dimensions: 19.4 x 17.8 cm (7⁵/₈ x 7 inches)
Provenance: From an album in the so-called ‘Sagredo-Borghese’ collection, with provenance as follows:
Zaccaria Sagredo, Venice (Lugt 2103a)
By descent to his nephew, Gherardo Sagredo, Venice
His widow, Cecilia Grimani Sagredo
Thence by descent
Dispersed in a series of sales after 1743
Possibly Jean-Jacques de Boissieu, Lyon, by c.1802, and thence by descent to the Baron de la Chapelle, Mâcon
Anonymous sale (‘Dessins italiens d’un album ‘Sagredo-Borghese’ de la collection d’un amateur français’), Monaco, Christie’s, 2 July 1993, lot 41
W. M. Brady & Co., New York, in 1994
Acquired in March 1994 by a private collection, Switzerland.

Literature: Mary Newcome, ‘Oil Sketches and Drawings by Strozzi’, Antichità Viva, 1993, p.22; Luisa Mortari, Bernardo Strozzi, Rome, 1995, p.124, under no.193, p.230, under no.31, and p.233, no.43 (‘un bellissimo disegno preparatorio…di grande qualità.’); Piero Boccardo, ‘I disegni di Bernardo Strozzi provenienti dall’album Sagredo’, in Ezia Gavazza, Giovanna Nepi Sciré and Giovanna Rotondi Terminiello, ed., Bernardo Strozzi, exhibition catalogue, Genoa, Palazzo Ducale, 1995, p.324; Nathalie Strasser, Dessins italiens de la Renaissance au siècle des lumières: Collection Jean Bonna, Geneva, 2010, p.206, under no.90; London, Christie’s, Old Master and British Drawings and Watercolours, Including Works from the Collection of Jean Bonna, 2 July 2019, p.43, under lot 40; Margherita Priarone, ‘I disegni di Bernardo Strozzi: fortuna critica e problemi aperti’, in Anna Orlando and Daniele Sanguineti, ed., Bernardo Strozzi 1582-1644: La conquista del colore, exhibition catalogue, Genoa, 2019-2020, p.368, fig.14.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints