Youth Kneeling before a Prelate (recto); Another Study of a Youth Kneeling before a Prelate (verso)
Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) (Italian, Cento 1591–1666 Bologna)
Pen and brown ink, brush and light brown wash (recto and verso)
sheet: 9 3/8 x 7 9/16 in. (23.8 x 19.2 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1908
Not on view
This double-sided sheet features two closely similar sketches for the principal figures in Guercino's altarpiece representing Saint William, Duke of Aquitaine, receiving the monastic habit, painted in 1620 for the Church of San Gregorio in Bologna (now Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna). Both studies show one composition but reversed in design orientation with respect to the final altarpiece.
Guercino's preparation for this celebrated early work is recorded in a number of composition sketches. In the painting, Saint William, kneeling before Saint Benedict of Ariane who is seated at the left, pulls a monastic cowl over his head; a drawing at Windsor (RL 12474) gives this solution. In the three drawings at the Louvre (inv. nos. 6884, 6885, 6886) and one at Frankfurt (Städel Museum inv.3922) Saint William, kneeling or standing before the prelate, already wears the habit. On both the recto and verso of the MMA sheet the kneeling saint, still clad in armor, holds a cross in hand, and this theme is elaborated in reverse with the addition of the other figures in a further Louvre drawing (inv. 6883).
Drawings in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin (K.d.Z. 16362) and Kupferstichkabinett Dresden (inv. C 1913-7) show Saint William clad in armor, standing before the bishop. A complete compositional study with notable variations, that once belonged to Baron Dominique Vivant-Denon (1747-1825), is now in the collection of Pierre Rosenberg, Paris. Denis Mahon has identified a number of studies for other figures and groups in this composition, including a beautiful black chalk study for the drapery of the Virgin in the Koenig Fachsenfeld collection. While the Metropolitan Museum’s studies do not correspond exactly to the configuration of the same figures in the executed Bologna altarpiece, they are considered alternate ideas for the Saint William figure done during the preparatory stage and are dated universally to 1620, the year of the altarpiece commission.
A date of ca. 1620 may be determined independently of the documented commission through comparison with other drawings from the artist's early Roman period. Other pen and ink studies, likewise in preparation for an altarpieces, are other drawings for St. William Receiving the Monastic Habit, a painting dated to 1620. The pen style in drawings for these projects, in particular, St William Receiving the Monastic Habit (Royal Library, Windsor, inv. no. 2475), features a rather rapid and loose, modulating line with close parallel hatching, rather than wash, for shading [Turner and Plazzotta, 1991, cat. nos. 26-28].
Marking: Stamp of William Russell collection (Lugt 2648) twice in lower right.
William Russell (British, 1800–1884 London); Vendor: Probably Carfax & Co. (London), through Roger Eliot Fry
Morgan Library & Museum, New York. "Drawings from New York Collections, II. The Seventeenth Century in Italy," February 23, 1967–April 22, 1967.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Emilian Drawings and Prints in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1500-1700," March 26, 1987–May 24, 1987.
Roger Eliot Fry "Recent Acquisitions of Drawings." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 4, no. 1, New York, January 1909, p. 7.
Jacob Bean 100 European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York Graphic Society, New York, 1964, cat. no. 30, fig. no. 30, ill.
"Drawings from the Roger Fry Purchase." Apollo. Apollo Magazine, vol. 82, London, September 1965, fig. no. 1, p. 247, ill.
Jacob Bean, Felice Stampfle Drawings from New York Collections, Vol. II: The Seventeenth Century in Italy. Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 1967, cat. no. 37, ill.
Walter Vitzthum "Review: Drawings from New York Collections, Vol. 2: The Seventeenth Century in Italy (Exh. cat., New York, MMA and PML, by Jacob Bean and Felice Stampfle, 1967)." Burlington Magazine. vol. 109, London, April 1967, p. 253.
Sir Denis Mahon Il Guercino. Catalogo critico dei disegni. Exh. cat., Bologna, Palazzo Dell'Archiginnasio, September 1 - November 18, 1968. Bologna, 1968, p. 77, no. 63, ill.
Mount Holyoke College Art Museum Drawings by Guercino and his Followers Exh. cat., South Hadley (Massachusetts), Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. South Hadley, Massachusetts, 1974, cat. no. 2, fig. no. 2, ill.
Jacob Bean, Lawrence Turčić 17th century Italian Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1979, pp. 180-81, no. 236, ill.
William M. Griswold "Guercino." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.s. vol. 48, no. 4, New York, Spring 1991, pp. 21-24, figs. 15, 16, ill.
David M. Stone Guercino, Master Draftsman. Works from North American Collections Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Cleveland Art Museum and elsew. Genoa, 1991, p. 22, under no. 9, fig. 9b (recto only repr.), ill.
Fausto Gozzi Il Guercino: le stampe della Pinacoteca Civica. Exh. cat. Pinacoteca Civica, Cento. Ferrara, 1996, p. 124, under no. 121.
Anna Maria Petrioli Inventario, Gabinetto disegni e stampe degli Uffizi: Disegni di figura. 2. Florence, 2005, p. 288, under no. 1634 F.