Saint John the Evangelist

Giovanni de' Vecchi Italian

Not on view

An eighteenth-century English inscription on the back of the old mount correctly identifies this drawing as a study for one of Giovanni de' Vecchi's most important commissions, the cartoons for two of the mosaic pendentives under dome in Saint Peter's. As recorded in 1642 by the biographer Giovanni Baglione ("Nella gran Basilica Vaticana il cartoni delli due Vangelisti di musaico Giovanni, e Luca sono forme magnifiche del suo ingegno") cartoons for the figures of Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Luke in colossal medallions were supplied by de' Vecchi, while those for the figures of Saint Matthew and Saint Mark were designed by Cesare Nebbia. De’ Vecchi and Nebbia prepared the cartoons between 1598 and 1599, and actual work on the mosaics began in late 1599 and continued through early 1601. Vibrantly drawn in pen and brown ink over black chalk, and extensively highlighted with white gouache, Giovanni de' Vecchi's study corresponds fairly closely to the mosaic in St. Peter’s, though in the latter the Evangelist looks down rather than gazing to upper right.

Saint John the Evangelist, Giovanni de' Vecchi (Italian, Borgo Sansepolcro 1536/37–1615 Rome), Pen and dark brown ink, extensively highlighted with white, over black chalk, on beige paper; squared in black chalk

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