Early Baroque draftsmen refined red-and-black chalk drawing to achieve exquisite, naturalistic, and chromatic effects in portraits and figure studies: the Florentine painter and draftsman Carlo Dolci was an extraordinary practitioner of this technique. The combined use of red and black chalk was perfected by Florentine seventeenth-century artists and frequently employed in Italy and France in the next century by artists such as François Boucher (1703-1770), who may well have owned this drawing. Dolci described an octagon around the portrait, suggesting that the drawing may have been preparatory for a painting in that shape.The drawing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art appears to date from the last years of the artist's life, when he was housebound and barely painting after repeated bouts of melancholia. Agata was the youngest of Dolci's seven daughters, and may have been an artist like her better-known elder sister, Agnese Dolci (d. in 1689).
The date of this exquisite portrait can be established by several clues. Agata was still recorded as a young girl ("fanciulla piccola") in her father's will of May 23, 1685 (Archivio di Stato, Florence, Notarile, no. 20596, fol. 3302/37), and she was previously portrayed by Dolci at the age of four on a drawing now in Cambridge datable between 1667-70 (Fitzwilliam Museum inv. 904*3, fol. 4r, inscribed "Agata di Anni 4"). On the Metropolitan Museum drawing the girl appears to be older, approximately ten years old, thus suggesting a date of execution around 1676-80. Agata is here formally dressed, and wears a coral necklace, an apotropaic symbol. According to David Scrase (Italian Drawings at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge 2011, p. 222) a further portrait of Agata can be recognized in the young girl drawn by Dolci on the sheet now in Los Angeles (The J. Paul Getty Museum, inv. 83.GB.374).
(Furio Rinaldi, 2014)
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Title:Portrait of the Artist's Daughter Agata Dolci
Inscription: Annotated in gray ink at the lower left, "Carlo Dolce" by a later hand. Annotated on the old mount, "By Carlo Dolci / This drawing belonged to Francis Boucher the French painter / It is engraved in a volume of facsimiles published by Mariette of Basan."
Probably owned by François Boucher (French); Sir George Clausen (British); his sale, Sotheby's, London, June 2, 1943, lot 58; P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.; Carl Winter (British); Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, on temporary deposit; Mrs. Caroline Forrest; Trinity Fine Art, London
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," February 26–May 5, 1996.
Wellesley, Mass. Davis Museum at Wellesley College. "The Medici's Painter: Carlo Dolci and 17th-Century Florence," February 10–July 9, 2017.
Durham, N.C. Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. "The Medici's Painter: Carlo Dolci and 17th-Century Florence," August 24, 2017–January 14, 2018.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints: Anniversary Highlights," October 8, 2020–January 18, 2021.
Exhibition of 17th century Italian Drawings. Exh. cat. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (June 18 - August 16, 1959). Cambridge, 1959, p. 21, no. 33 (as "lent by Carl Winter, Esq.").
Anthony Blunt Italian 17th century Drawings from British Private Collections: An Exhibition Exh. cat., Edinburgh Festival Society and Scottish Art Council, Edinburgh (August 19 - September 9, 1972). Edinburgh, 1972, p. 16, no. 40, repr.
Mina Gregori Il Seicento fiorentino. Arte a Firenze da Ferdinando I a Cosimo III. Vol. 3: Disegni / Incisioni / Scultura / Arti Minori. Exh. cat., Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (December 21, 1986 - May 4, 1987). Florence, 1986, p. 360, under no. 2.327 (as "collezione Winter", entry by Charles McCorquodale).
Carmen C. Bambach, Colta Ives, Suzanne Boorsch, Carolyn Logan, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1994-1995." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 53, no. 2, Fall 1995, p. 34-5 (entry by Carmen C. Bambach).
Chris Fischer Central Italian Drawings. Schools of Florence, Siena, the Marches and Umbria. Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings. Statens Museum for Kunst. Copenhagen, 2001, p. 216 and note 7, under no. 146.
Linda Wolk-Simon, Carmen C. Bambach An Italian Journey. Drawings from the Tobey Collection: Correggio to Tiepolo. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (May 12 - August 15, 2010). New York, 2010, p. 188, under no. 58, fig. 58.1 (entry by Linda Wolk-Simon).
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