An Ecclesiastic (Pope?) Blessing a Book before the Sacred College

Cesare Nebbia Italian

Not on view

Rendered with the typically stark 'chiaroscuro' modelling of late drawings by this artist, the proposed oblong composition sketch represents in rather summary form the seated figure of a pope or a cardinal (the mitre is relatively short and ambiguous in shape), surrounded by a sacred College, as he is presented by a monk with a large book. The scene clearly represents the institution of an ecclesiastic rule, monastic or secular. The main figure sits on a stepped, canopied throne, with extended blessing right hand, and the view of the great room seems to include the portrayal of tapestries or frescoes on the walls.Still unpublished in 2006, the drawing's attribution to Cesare Nebbia was confirmed by Rhoda Eitel Porter after its acquisition by The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The present sheet is a late work by the artist, dating from the 1580s to 1590s, and resembles rather closely the composition of Cesare Nebbia's fresco of 'Saint Charles Borromeo granting the rules and religious orders in the Almo Collegio Borromeo, Pavia.' Here, the main figure, type of throne, and general orientation of the design are all comparable. The composition in this drawing is also very similar to a scene of a pope granting the rules for a monastic order to a congregation of nuns, which is represented in a fresco on the vault of the 'Galleria delle Carte Geografiche' (Vatican Palace), and in the corresponding preparatory drawing by the artist (Musée du Louvre inv. 11579, Paris). The Museum owns seven drawings attributed to Cesare Nebbia, who was born in Orvieto and had a major career in Rome, ranking as one of the foremost painters of the Counter-Reformation during the reigns of Popes Gregory XIII and Sixtus V.


An Ecclesiastic (Pope?) Blessing a Book before the Sacred College, Cesare Nebbia (Italian, Orvieto ca. 1536–1614 Orvieto), Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over black chalk; traces of framing lines in pen and brown ink

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.