Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Putti Playing with Hoops (Cartoon for a Fresco in the Parma Cathedral)

Michelangelo Anselmi (Italian, Siena or Lucca (?) 1492–1556 Parma)
ca. 1548
Black chalk; outlines pricked for transfer
Sheet: 22 × 24 13/16 in. (55.9 × 63 cm) Mount: 22 9/16 × 25 11/16 in. (57.3 × 65.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, and Mr. and Mrs. David M. Tobey and Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation Gifts, 2013
Accession Number:
Not on view
In this rare, monumental cartoon (full-scale drawing), a group of pleasingly plump children arranged in a friezelike composition plays with hoops. The outlines of the figures are pricked with small holes, indicating the transfer of the design by means of pouncing, a technique by which the perforated outlines are rubbed with charcoal dust. This leaves a dotted outline on the underlying surface that can serve as the guideline for a painting or another drawing. A sometime collaborator of Correggio and Parmigianino, Anselmi used this cartoon to paint the decorative border of a fresco on the vault of the south transept of the Parma Cathedral in 1548. His manner of drawing is bold and expressive, with some visibly rough strokes of hatching in the modeling, as the design was meant to be seen from a distance rather than inspected at close range. The decoration currently adorning the transept, executed in tempera in 1768, is the work of Antonio Bresciani assisted by Gaetano Guidetti, however, the entire design of the eighteenth-century vault must have been based on Anselmi's then presumably very damaged frescoes. Following Anselmi's death, the decoration of the vault was completed in its counterpart in the north transept around 1570 by Orazio Samacchini, by whom the Museum owns a design for one of the spandrels (no. 1971.66.6).
Inscription: The two stamps of a six-pointed star in black ink of the famous English musician and collector Nicholas Lanier II (1588–1666), applied by his heirs soon after his death, appear near the bottom border of the composition. Also at the bottom border, an early author who was a non-Italian native speaker, perhaps Lanier himself, wrote in pen-and-ink cursive: “nel ornamenti di Tapestria a Roma” (sic, as this should read “negli ornamenti di tappezzeria a Roma”; English: “in the ornaments of tapestries in Rome”).
Nicholas Lanier (British, baptised London 1588–1666 London); Mrs. Spowers (British, doc. ca. 2004)(owner in 2004 according to letter on file from Paul Joannides); Christie's, London, July 3, 2012, lot 8 (as Anselmi); Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, Munich
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," August 27, 2013–November 18, 2013.

Carmen C. Bambach "Disegno, pittura e l'ideale del "ben finito cartone"." Il Primato del Disegno. I disegni dei grandi maestri a confronto con i dipinti della Pinacoteca di Brera: dai Primitivi a Modigliani. Ed. by Sandrina Bandera, Exh. cat. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, 2015, pp. 24-25, note 78, fig. 9.

David Ekserdjian Correggio and Parmigianino: Art in Parma during the Sixteenth Century Exh. cat. Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale. Milan, 2016, pp. 155, 225, no. 83.

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