Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) (Italian, Cento 1591–1666 Bologna)
Pen and brown ink, brush and light brown wash
sheet: 8 3/8 x 9 3/4 in. (21.2 x 24.8 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1968
Not on view
A naked shepherd slumbers for eternity in the moonlit landscape, his staff discarded at his side, his cloak gathered beneath his arms as a pillow. Perpetually young and handsome, Endymion is beloved by the moon goddess Selene-whose presence here is suggested by the waning crescent in the sky. The largely self-trained Bolognese artist Guercino (whose nickname means "squinty-eyed" in Italian) made this drawing in about 1650, at the height of his artistic maturity. He sketched the scene with characteristic energy, in sinuous lines of dark brown ink softened at the edges with fluent washes that shine against the white surface of the sheet.
Sir Denis Mahon (see here "References": Mahon 1967, p. 8) first considered this drawing to be a study for the now lost picture of Endymion in full length painted for Don Antonio Ruffo of Messina. The payments for this picture are recorded in a document of March 1650 (as published by Giampetrino Zanotti in Carlo Cesare Malvasia, Felsina pittrice, Vite de'pittori bolognesi, Bologna, 1841, vol. II, p. 331: Under the year 1650 - " Il dì 2 Marzo. / Dal Sig. Pietro Antonio Davìa si è ricevuto ducatoni N. 100 per parte del Sig. D. Antonio Ruffo da Messina, per pagamento dell' Endimione figura intera, e questi fanno lir. 500 e le monete furono dobloni N.17 che fanno dobble d'Italia N. 34 che sono lir. 503. 4 con il costo della cassetta, e subbio -- scudi 125 lire 3.4."). In all, Guercino's "Libro de' conti" (account book) records the painting of five pictures with Endymion as a subject, including the Davia picture over a period of fourteen years. Four of these specifically describe half-figures. The payments are recorded in Guercino's Libro dei conti in December 1644, September 1647, November 1657 and May 1658 (See Malvasia in Zanotti, 1841, pps. 325, 328, 338, and 338, respectively).
Only the picture executed for Don Antonio Ruffo depicted the sleeping Endymion in full length (see op. cit., p. 331, March 2, 1650). Guercino himself mentions this picture in a letter to Don Antonio Ruffo (dated March 16, 1650) as completed but not yet dry (see T.H. Fokker, Galleria Ruffo nel secolo XVII in Messina, con lettere di pittori ed altri documenti inediti, in Bolletino d' Arte, vol X, 1916, p. 98.) The museum's drawing is characterized by a simple outline, subtle figure modeling achieved with spare touches of wash, and thick pen and ink lines in the hair, as is typical of the 1630s. Shadows in obscured areas of the figure's head and eye sockets are achieved through a more concentrated application of pen and ink. Attention to surrounding details is minimal and the figure is foregrounded by spare layers of wash and parallel hatching, the use of which is also typical of his earlier style. The economic articulation of the landscape, indebted to Annibale Carracci's landscape studies, also ties this drawing to Guercino's earlier years. A drawing that combines this figure treatment with simple landscape elements is Two Nymphs and a Satyr, a study dated to the 1620s (London, Courtauld Institute Galleries, Witt Collection, inv. no. 1346). Autograph pen and wash drawings with a similar treatment of modeling and silhouette datable to the 1630s are Christ Appearing to Saint Theresa and Three Putti Amongst Clouds (both Royal Library, Windsor, inv. nos. 2782 and 2805, respectively) two pen and ink studies related to the painting Christ Appearing to Saint Theresa (1634) (Aix-en-Provence, Musee). Although a study for a clothed figure, the pen and ink Portrait of Cardinal Bernardino Spada (Haarlem, Teylers Museum, inv. no. H 103) datable to 1631, reveals a very similar treatment.
Marking: Stamp of A.G.B. Russell, London and Swanage (Lugt suppl.2770a), at lower right.
No watermark visible: sheet glued onto an old mount.
Benedetto Gennari (Italian)(Gennari mount); Cesare Gennari (Italian)(Gennari mount); Charles Noel, 1st Earl of Gainsborough (British); Christie's, London- July 27, 1822, lot no. uncertain.; Archibald George Blomefield Russel (British)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions 1965-1975," December 6, 1975–March 23, 1976.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Emilian Drawings and Prints in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1500-1700," March 26, 1987–May 24, 1987.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. "Guercino Master Draftsman: Works from North American Collections," May 3, 1991–June 16, 1991.
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Guercino Master Draftsman: Works from North American Collections," August 27, 1991–October 13, 1991.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 12, 2004–April 4, 2004.
Burlington Fine Arts Club Drawings by Guercino Exh. cat. London, May-July 1923, cat. no. 11, fig. no. plate V, pp. 21, 34., ill.
Sir Denis Mahon Omaggio al Guercino. Mostra di dipinti restaurati e dei disegni della collezione Denis Mahon di Londra. Cento, 1967, p. 8, n.11.
Jacob Bean, John J. McKendry "A Fortunate Year." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.s. vol. 27, no. 6, New York, February 1969, p. 315., ill.
Jacob Bean in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965-1975: Drawings. New York, 1975, p. 59, ill.
Jacob Bean Patterns of Collecting: Selected Acquisitions, 1965-1975 Explanatory texts accompanying an exhibition: December 6, 1975 through March 23, 1976. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1975, p. 59, ill.
Jacob Bean, Lawrence Turčić 17th century Italian Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1979, cat. no. 238, fig. no. 238, p. 183, ill.
Sir Denis Mahon, Nicholas Turner The Drawings of Guercino in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle. Cambridge, 1989, cat. no. under no. 215, pp. 96-97.
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, fig. no. 34, pp. 40-41, 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. 136, no. 59, ill.
Artist: After Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) (Italian, Cento 1591–1666 Bologna) Date: 17th centuryMedium: Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over traces of black chalk, on cream paperAccession: 80.3.453On view in:Not on view