Description & Technical information

Pen and brown ink and brown wash, over a black chalk underdrawing. Laid down on an 18th century (Richardson) mount.

This is a preparatory study for an etching by Salvator Rosa from his celebrated Figurine series; a group of sixty-two etchings of soldiers, peasants and other figures, depicted either individually or in groups of two, three or more. These etchings, which were published with a dedication to the artist’s friend and patron, the Roman banker and collector Carlo de’ Rossi, can be dated to Rosa’s years in Rome, around 1656-1657. It has been suggested that, apart from helping to spread Rosa’s fame, these Figurine etchings may also have served to rebut the claims, made by the artist’s critics, that he was merely a landscape painter without the ability to depict figures. As Richard Wallace has noted, ‘Rosa was very touchy about his reputation as a figure painter...With the Figurine he undoubtedly meant to show everyone, including his detractors...that he could master the human figure in an almost infinite variety of poses and expressive states.’ Often acquired as a complete set of prints and bound into albums, Rosa’s Figurine etchings remained popular with collectors well into the 18th century.

Around forty of Rosa’s preparatory drawings for individual etchings in the Figurine series survive. All are of identical dimensions to the etchings, and in most respects very close to the final print, albeit in reverse. Other preparatory drawings by Rosa for his Figurine etchings are today in the collections of the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica in Rome, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, and elsewhere.

Date:  1656-57
Period:  1600-1750, 17th century
Origin:  Italy
Medium: Pen, Brown ink, Brown wash, Black chalk underdrawing
Signature: Inscribed Salvator Rosa at the bottom and with the shelfmark D. inscribed on the reverse.
Further inscribed From the collection of Jonathan Richardson, the Painter in the bottom margin of the mount, and faintly inscribed Lot 120 on the reverse of the mount.

Dimensions: 14.7 x 9 cm (5³/₄ x 3¹/₂ inches)
Provenance: Jonathan Richardson, Senior, London (Lugt 2184), with his shelfmark (cf. Lugt 2983 and 2984) and on his mount
Probably his sale, London, Christopher Cock, 22 January to 8 February 1747
Alexander Scott Carter, Toronto (according to a note on the backing sheet)
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby’s, 26 November 1970, lot 42
John Appleby, Jersey
Thence by descent until 2010.
Literature: Michael Mahoney, The Drawings of Salvator Rosa, New York and London, 1977, Vol.I, p.440, no.45.8; Vol.II, fig.45.8 (as whereabouts unknown); Richard W. Wallace, The Etchings of Salvator Rosa, Princeton, 1979, p.168, no.37a (not illustrated); Paolo Bellini and Richard W. Wallace, ed., The Illustrated Bartsch. Vol.45 – Commentary: Italian Masters of the Seventeenth Century, 1990, p.393 under no. .057 (Bartsch 44).
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints