Pen and brown ink (double-sided drawing)
4 15/16’’ x 3 4/5’’(125 x 97 mm) -Framed 12’’ x 11 1/2’’ (30.5 x 29.3 cm)
Louis XVI style gilded wood frame
Provenance: P.H. Lankrink’ (1628 - 1692) - stamped lower left (L.2090), Ullmann’s Collection, stamped on the verso
This subtle drawing from the Roman Renaissance presents Apollo accompanied by three Muses. It is based on a sarcophagus (last photo in the Gallery) depicting the nine Muses framed by Minerva and Apollo, which is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Girolamo de Carpi repeatedly drew figures from this sarcophagus during his stay in Rome between 1549 and 1553. Despite this common source of inspiration, the more delicate execution of our drawing and the similarities with a painting by the artist depicting Apollo or Poetry made around 1532-1534 (9th photo in the Gallery) suggest the same period of production for our drawing.
1. Girolamo de Carpi, a life between Ferrara and Rome at the service of the Este family
Our knowledge of Girolamo de Carpi's life is largely based upon the second edition of the Lives of the Artists published in 1568 by Giorgio Vasari (1511 - 1574), became a close friend of his around 1550.
Girolamo de Carpi was born in 1501 in Ferrara where his father was also a painter. After an apprenticeship shared between his father's workshop and that of Garofalo, Girolamo began his career in Bologna, where he settled in 1525, working on the frescoes in the sacristy of San Michele in Bosco alongside Biagio Pupini. He was then influenced by Parmigianino, whom he had met in Bologna or during a brief stay in Rome before moving to Bologna.
From 1530 onwards, Girolamo de Carpi settled in Ferrara, probably making a further stay in Rome in 1531. He also began to work for the d'Este family, first in Belriguardo, where he took part in the decoration of the Sala della Vigna, then in the Palazetto della Montagna di San Giorgio (of which he may have been the architect), which he also decorated with frescoes, and finally in Copparo. A true Renaissance court artist, Girolamo also executed easel paintings, ephemeral decorations and tapestry cartoons for his clients.
Cardinal Hippolyte d'Este, who, since the early 1540s, had been one of his main clients within this powerful family, called him to Rome to design the layout of his Quirinal garden. Girolamo remained in Rome for four years, also working as an architect at the Belvedere for Pope Julius III, before returning to Ferrara in 1553. His last work as an architect was the reconstruction of the ducal palace in Ferrara, which was partly destroyed by fire in 1554.
2. Description of the artwork and some related artworks
This double-sided drawing depicts four figures inspired by antique statuary: Apollo accompanied by a griffin with the Muse Calliope on his right, and the Muses Melpomene and Polymnia on the reverse. The drawing of each figure, made of fine hatchings, is particularly delicate and evokes the refined art of Parmigianino, who inspired Girolamo de Carpi in his early days.
The figure of Apollo accompanied by a griffin can be found in a panel painted by Girolamo da Carpi and kept in the Capitoline Museum in Rome (103 x 44 cm). Dated around 1532-1534, it represents Apollo or Poetry and, together with its counterpart Vulcan or Sculpture, would have formed the doors of a collector's cabinet. Despite numerous differences, particularly in the position of the hands and head, the two artworks have in common the graceful treatment of Apollo's body.
Some drawings from the same period, such as the Study for two superimposed sarcophagi in the Uffizi Museum (inv. 1699 E r), seem to be quite close to our drawing in terms of execution.
3. The Roman Notebook and the Sarcophagus of the Muses
The Roman Notebook of Girolamo da Carpi is a group of oblong drawings, most of which were made during Girolamo da Carpi's third stay in Rome between 1549 and 1553, although some of them may have been made earlier. This relatively homogeneous group is now divided between three institutions: the Royal Library in Turin (90 drawings), the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia (85 drawings) and the British Museum in London (5 drawings).
They all come from a portfolio of 378 drawings mentioned by Pierre-Jean Mariette in the inventory of Pierre Crozat. These drawings are generally executed in pen and ink, and sometimes enriched with brown or grey ink washes.
The Roman Notebook includes representations of six of the nine Muses depicted on the Sarcophagus of the Muses, which also served as the model for our drawing. During the Renaissance period, this sarcophagus (now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna) was displayed in front of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore where it could easily be reproduced by artists. It is decorated with a frieze representing the nine Muses, accompanied on the left by Athena and on the right by Apollo. The precise identification of each Muse is delicate, even if some of them can be identified by their attributes.
On this sarcophagus, which has now been restored, Polymnia (the Muse of Rhetoric) is the second Muse from the left, Melpomene (the Muse of Song and Tragedy) the seventh, and Calliope (the Muse of Epic Poetry) the last, right next to Apollo.
In his Roman Notebook, Girolamo da Carpi departs quite significantly from his model and give us a very personal interpretation of each muse.
The comparison between the drawings of the two Muses that appear both in our drawing and in the Roman Notebook is enlightening, as we have two variations on the same theme. In the Roman Notebook, the Muses have been executed in a lighter and freer manner, but the figures bear a matronly heaviness that contrasts with the mannerist elongation of the forms in our drawing.
These differences illustrate the artist's evolution from his youthful drawings to his mature works.
4. Prosper Henry Lankrink (1628 - 1692), an unrepentant 17th century collector
At the lower left of the verso, our drawing bears the stamp of Prosper Henry Lankrink, demonstrating that this drawing has been valued for a long time.
Trained as a painter in Antwerp, Prosper Henry Lankrink (1628 – 1692) completed his training in Italy, where he frequented the studio of Salvador Rosa, before settling in England, where he specialised in landscapes and decorative paintings. He collaborated with Peter Lely painting the backgrounds of his portraits and also became a collector under his influence, buying massively in the sales that followed the latter's death (in 1682 and 1688). To pay for his purchases, he went into debt with one of his patrons but was unable to pay him back and his collection was seized and sold. The works of art he collected were generally of excellent quality. To enrich his collection as he undoubtedly took advantage of the sales of the great collections formed by Arundel and Charles 1er.
This drawing is sold with a gilded wooden frame in the Louis XVI style. The frame is very sober and highlights the delicate refinement of this drawing. It is easy to admire the back of the drawing or to change the side of the sheet.
Main bibliographical references :
Alessandra Patanaro - Girolamo da Carpi - Officina Libraria - Roma 2021
Gudrun Dauner - Drawn Together - Two Albums of Renaissance Drawings by GIROLAMO DA CARPI - Rosenback Museum & Library - Philadelphia 2005
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