The Holy Family with Angels

Pomarancio (Cristoforo Roncalli) Italian

Not on view

This powerful drawing with the Virgin Mary, St Joseph and the Christ Child accompanied by angels was first published in 1952 by Philip Pouncey, who recognized it as a study for Roncalli's painting of ‘The Holy Family’ now in the Galleria Borghese, Rome (Inv. 330). The painting and the related drawing are datable to ca. 1603-1605. Drawn in black chalk, this sheet represents a bold example of Roncalli’s draftsmanship at the dawn of the seventeenth century, inspired by the monumentality of Michelangelo and Giuseppe Cesari, Cavaliere d’Arpino. The indented lines on the recto of the sheet and the extensive rubbing with black chalk dust on the verso of the paper are both signs of the ‘calco’ technique – a practice adopted to copy or transfer the design onto a secondary support to produce model drawings of identical scale. In 1964 Jacob Bean found a second study in Florence (GDSU, inv. 15428 F; 38.7 x 27.3 cm) for the same painting. In contrast to the Museum’s drawing, the Florentine composition is worked out in black, red, and white chalk on blue paper ( repr. in ‘Disegni dei toscani a Roma, 1580-1620', Florence, 1979, no. 27). The composition of the two preparatory drawings also differs in a number of details, and both, in turn, differ slightly from the painting in Rome. (F.R.)

The Holy Family with Angels, Pomarancio (Cristoforo Roncalli) (Italian, Pomarance ca. 1553–1626 Rome), Black chalk highlighted with white chalk on blue paper

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