A Sibyl Holding a Scroll (Study for the Cimmerian Sibyl)

Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) Italian

Not on view

Like other Sibyls of the ancient world, the Cimmerian Sibyl - whose real name was Carmentis - was venerated as the great prophetic priestess presiding over the Apollonian Oracle at Cimmerium in Italy, near Lake Avernus.

Guercino's vibrant drawing, executed with a dense network lines in pen and ink, is associated with a painting of the Cimmerian Sibyl, which is extant in at least two versions (Reggio Emilia, Credito Emiliano [now Credem] and Galerie Canesso, Paris in 2002; see "A Rediscovered Sibyl by Guercino," by Veronique Damian). The drawing is considered an original preparatory study for the Reggio Emilia version of the Cimmerian Sibyl, which has been dated to 1638, the year of the commission, for which payment was received on January 2, 1639, and which is recorded in the "Libro dei Conti" of Guercino's studio (located Bologna, Biblioteca Comunale dell'Archiginnasio, MS.B.331., also published in full in Calvi, Notizie della vita, e delle opere del Cavaliere Giovan Francesco Barbieri detto il Guercino da Cento, Bologna, 1808, and in Malvasia, Felsina Pittrice, 1841, II, pp. 307- 44).

A Sibyl Holding a Scroll (Study for the Cimmerian Sibyl), Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) (Italian, Cento 1591–1666 Bologna), Pen and dark brown ink

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