Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri). Account book entry. March 29, 1650, fol. 37v [Biblioteca Comunale dell'Archiginnasio di Bologna, inv. B 331; published in Jacopo Calvi, "Notizie della vita, e delle opere del . . . Guercino," Bologna, 1808, p. 124, and in Ghelfi 1997, p. 146], records an advance payment of 473 scudi from Signor Quaranta Sampieri for an altarpiece representing the Blessed Luigi Gonzaga with a glory of angels, for a church in Guastalla.
Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri). Account book entry. April 24, 1651, fol. 40v [Biblioteca Comunale dell'Archiginnasio di Bologna, inv. B 331; published in Jacopo Calvi, "Notizie della vita, e delle opere del . . . Guercino," Bologna, 1808, p. 128, and in Ghelfi 1997, p. 152], records a further payment of 1,000 scudi from the duke of Guastalla for the painting representing the Blessed Luigi Gonzaga ordered by Sampieri.
Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri). Account book entry. April 27, 1651, fol. 40v [Biblioteca Comunale dell'Archiginnasio di Bologna, inv. B 331; published in Jacopo Calvi, "Notizie della vita, e delle opere del . . . Guercino," Bologna, 1808, p. 128, and in Ghelfi 1997, p. 152], records a payment of 500 scudi from the duke of Guastalla for the painting of the Blessed Luigi Gonzaga; records the total received for the picture as 400 ducats.
Carlo Cesare Malvasia. Felsina pittrice: vite de' pittori bolognesi. Bologna, 1678, vol. 2, p. 378, lists an altarpiece representing the Blessed Luigi Gonzaga executed by Guercino in 1650 for Guastalla.
Ireneo Affò. Istoria della città e ducato di Guastalla. Vol. 3, Guastalla, 1787, p. 162, reports that in 1654 the duke of Guastalla buried one of his daughters in the church of the Theatines before the altar of San Luigi Gonzaga with its beautiful painting by the famous Guercino.
The New Statistical Account of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1845, vol. 10, p. 806, as in the collection of John Grant, Kilgraston; incorrectly describes the subject as an episode from the life of Louis IX.
G[iuseppe]. Campori. Gli artisti italiani e stranieri negli stati estensi. Modena, 1855, p. 49, identifies the painting mentioned in Guercino's account book entries of April 1651 as the work that was appropriated from the Theatine church in Guastalla in 1805 by Moreau de Saint Méry, the administrator general of Parma, adding that he thinks it was taken to France.
Gaetano Atti. Intorno alla vita e alle opere di Gianfrancesco Barbieri detto il Guercino da Cento. Rome, 1861, p. 117.
Charles Thomas Constantine Grant. San Luigi di Gonzaga and Guercino. Bruges, 1882, pp. 7–8, ill., records that the picture was bought by John Grant about 1818 in Milan, where it had been "rolled up in a back shop", and that Grant returned to Kilgraston "much in dread of his father's welcome, for he was still then a minor"; adds that "during the burning of Kilgraston in 1872, the picture was cut out of its frame by the late John Grant, Esquire, with the aid of two servants, and was carried out of the house before the roof fell in"
Henry A. La Farge. "Noble Metropolitan Visitors." Art News 65 (February 1967), p. 60, fig. 5, describes the picture's commemoration of an almost contemporary religious event as "an eloquent example of the programmatic art of the Counter-Reformation which turned from traditional subjects to celebrate the great events and deeds of the Living Church"; adds that the picture may in fact have promoted the subsequent canonization of the saint in 1726.
Denys Sutton. "Pleasure for the Aesthete." Apollo 90 (September 1969), p. 233, no. 3, ill.
Everett Fahy in The Wrightsman Collection. Vol. 5, Paintings, Drawings. [New York], 1973, pp. 117–25, no. 13, ill. p. 119 (color), figs. 1–3 (details), notes that the picture does not illustrate a specific event in the saint's life, but telescopes different moments into a single image of Luigi's dedication; observes that the coronet, flowered wreath, and lilies appear in a pair of engravings of San Luigi made about 1607 by Anton and Jerome Wierix, and that it is possible Guercino referred to these or similar engravings in designing his altarpiece a half-century later; compares the clothing and general posture of the angel in the Wrightsman picture to that in Guercino's "Guardian Angel" altarpiece, executed in 1642 for Fano (now Museo Civico Malatestiano); suggests that the fortified buildings visible in the picture's landscape may represent the town of Guastalla.
Francis Haskell. Rediscoveries in Art: Some Aspects of Taste, Fashion and Collecting in England and France. Ithaca, N.Y., 1976, p. 32 n. 42.
Luigi Bosio. "La 'Vocazione di San Luigi Gonzaga' della collezione Wrightsman." Civilità Mantovana 10, nos. 57–58 (1976), pp. 170–81, fig. 1, relates this painting's iconography to a specifically Mantovan tradition, finding precedents for the white blossoms on the angel's wreath and pearls on the saint's coronet in a painting attributed to Ippolito Andreasi (1548–1698) at the Museo Storico Aloisiana di Castiglione della Stivere; discounts the Wierix engravings as a possible source for Guercino's imagery.
Nerio Artioli and Elio Monducci. Dipinti "reggiani" del Bonone e del Guercino (pittura et documenti). Exh. cat.Reggio Emilia, 1982, pp. 113–14, no. 23, colorpl. 41, states that Junot acquired the picture in 1806 from the painter Gaetano Callani.
Luigi Salerno. I dipinti del Guercino. Rome, 1988, p. 346, no. 276, ill. (color), notes that the canvas was cut down at the top, possibly in 1872, when a fire at Kilgraston caused the work to be hurriedly removed from its frame.
Denis Mahon and Nicholas Turner. The Drawings of Guercino in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle. New York, 1989, p. 72, under no. 128, tentatively identify a red chalk drawing at Windsor Castle ("Head of a Youth," 34.7 x 24.5 cm, inv. no. 0235) as a study for this painting.
David M. Stone. Guercino: catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1991, p. 272, no. 263, ill. (color).
William M. Griswold. "Guercino." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 48 (Spring 1991), pp. 38–40, fig. 33 (color), identifies the white surplice Luigi wears over the high-collared black habit of the Society of Jesus as a reference to his ordination as door-keeper, lector, exorcist and acolyte—the four minor orders that he received in the early months of 1588.
Nicholas Turner and Carol Plazzotta. Drawings by Guercino from British Collections. London, 1991, p. 79, under no. 50, point out that the chalk drawing at Windsor Castle [see Ref. Mahon and Turner 1989] is a study for the head of Saint Lawrence in the altarpiece painted for the chiesa del Seminario in Finale nell'Emilia (about 1624), not for Saint Luigi Gonzaga.
Nicholas Turner. Guercino: Drawings from Windsor Castle. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. Washington, 1991, p. 66.
Barbara Ghelfi, ed. Il libro dei conti del Guercino, 1629–1666. By Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri). [Bologna], 1997, pp. 146, 152, colorpl. 21.
Andreas Schalhorn. Historienmalerei und Heiligsprechung: Pierre Subleyras (1699–1749) und das Bild für den Papst im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert. Munich, 2000, pp. 275, 318, fig. 158.
Everett Fahy in The Wrightsman Pictures. Ed. Everett Fahy. New York, 2005, pp. 32–34, no. 8, ill. (color).