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Carracci studies.

The Musee des Beaux-Arts in Besancon houses a rich collection of drawings by Annibale Carracci, four of which have never been published. Featuring sketches for the artist's fresco cycles in the Palazzo Farnese, Rome, the provenance of these works reveals much about collecting in 17th-century France

The 17th-century Roman antiquarian Francesco Angeloni (after 1559-1652) is said to have owned some 600 studies by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) for his fresco cycles in the Palazzo Farnese, many of which were later acquired by French collectors and eventually made their way into the Cabinet des Dessins of the Louvre. The Musee des Beaux-Arts et d'Archeologie in Besancon boasts a rich if less sizeable corpus of these, catalogued together with the other known preliminaries for the murals by John Rupert Martin in his groundbreaking monograph of 1965, and mentioned continuously in the literature over the past 50 years. (1) It is therefore remarkable that four studies by the artist in Besancon have escaped notice until now. They bear the stamp of Jean Gigoux (1806-94), who bequeathed his art collection to the city in 1894, but exactly why or when these were brought to the municipal library rather than the museum, where his other drawings by Annibale now reside, remains unclear. (2) This essay intends to discuss them in terms of the artist's graphic oeuvre and working procedure: three relate to specific frescoes in the so-called Camerino and Gallery of the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, while the fourth, a spirited likeness of a dog, epitomises the artist's abiding commitment to drawing after nature. I will also pay attention to handwriting along the margin of one sheet, which compares with inscriptions on other studies by Annibale, and consider the history of their collecting in France.

In the autumn of 1594, Annibale and his older brother Agostino (1557-1602) were summoned from their native town of Bologna to Rome, where they briefly met with Cardinal Odoardo Farnese. (3) The following year, Annibale returned to the Eternal City, took up lodging in the Palazzo Farnese, and commenced work. He painted, first, a coved ceiling in the Camerino (c. 1595-97), a small chamber long believed to be the cardinal's study, but actually his bedroom, (4) and, then, the large barrel vault and walls in the palatial gallery housing the family's famed collection of antiquities (1597-1604). The Camerino involves an erudite program in which Hercules, Ulysses, and other legendary heroes exemplify virtues worthy of the young cardinal, (5) whereas the Gallery is evidently less moralising in tone, a tour de force that combines Active easel pictures and illusionism in a joyous celebration of mythological love. (6) Agostino joined his brother in Rome to collaborate on the latter project, but their working arrangement was soon cut short, reportedly due to fraternal tensions. (7) Although two scenes are traditionally attributed to Agostino, (8) Annibale is considered to have executed most of the frescoes in the Gallery, as well as the entire ceiling in the Camerino, and the related drawings. (9)

Fresco cycles typically presuppose a great range and quantity of graphic preliminaries: from quick initial sketches to more detailed studies of individual figures, body parts, and drapery, or the overall composition, and, finally, cartoons that permit transfer of the design, drawn to scale, onto the surface to be painted. (10) Annibale was experienced in such procedure before his arrival in Rome, since he had worked alongside Agostino and their cousin Ludovico (1555-1619) on murals in various Bolognese palaces, and since the practice of drawing was itself a cornerstone of the art academy that they had together founded. (11) Altogether less clear is the extent to which they sought to preserve their preliminaries--at least one of them is known to have recycled his drawings to wipe clean printing plates and frying pans. (12) Fortunately, Annibale's preparatory studies for the Palazzo Farnese fared better, because they were admired and collected from an early date. In the 17th century, Francesco Angeloni claimed to have owned no less than 600 sheets, primarily for the Gallery. (13) Speculating on the loss and survival of preliminaries for the two cycles three centuries later, John Rupert Martin cautioned against taking Angeloni's remarks too literally, but conceded that Annibale must have made over 1000 drawings for the Gallery, and several hundred for the Camerino, a fraction of which now survive. (14) Martin's monograph (1965) lists 40 extant sheets for the Camerino and 110 for the Gallery, and a handful of others have since come to light. (15)

Among the drawings here introduced are two that specifically relate to the Camerino, Annibale's first commission in the palace, (16) and, as such, were approached by him with care. According to the biographer Giovanni Pietro Bellori, the artist made more than 20 studies for a single kneeling figure of Hercules in one of the scenes (Hercules bearing the Globe). (17) Although less than half of these can now be identified, there is no reason to doubt they once existed. The painter and critic Vincenzo Vittoria also mentions this group of over 20 studies, which, he adds, belonged to Angeloni. (18) Other preliminaries that survive for the Camerino suggest that Annibale must have paid close attention to all aspects of the decorative scheme. For example, the fact that not one, but two, large compositional studies for a single lunette fresco (Ulysses and Circe), (19) and another for a scene that was never realised (Bellerophon), (20) have come down to us implies that the artist may have made similarly detailed drawings for other narratives he intended to paint. So, too, the many sheets depicting various individuals or their parts indicate that his concern with anatomy, an understanding that allowed him to render bodies most convincingly, was hardly limited to Hercules.

One of the drawings in Besancon reveals Annibale's interest in Ulysses, another protagonist in the Camerino. (21) Executed in black chalk on (faded) blue paper, and heightened in white chalk, it depicts the upper body of a male nude, whose arms are shown behind him, his head turned away (Fig. 1). Annibale sketched from life with confidence and an economy of means, lightly indicating the man's left shoulder, then raising its profile with a darker line, and shifting his right arm closer to the torso. The artist also sought to record the implied fall of light: highlights along the model's ear, neck, and upper left shoulder are picked out with white chalk. The pose and light source find exact matches in the scene of Ulysses and the Sirens (Fig. 2), where the hero, now clothed and bearded, but likewise bound, listens to the enchantresses' song. Only five preliminaries for this lunette were previously known, most of them for the oarsmen. A life study for the rower to the right of Ulysses, now in the Louvre, (22) accords well with the Besancon sheet. Not merely is the handling of chalk identical, but the same person appears to have served as the model. The Besancon sketch is the first to be identified in preparation for Ulysses, but others were undoubtedly made. Vittoria prided himself on owning one of these, a 'most stupendous figure' of Ulysses tied to the mast. (23)

A sketch of a female torso (Fig. 4) is mounted together with the one for Ulysses in Besancon. (24) The two are akin in media, technique and purpose. With a few vigorous marks of black chalk, Annibale summarily indicated the woman's breast and neck, focusing on her extended right arm and hand. Accents in white chalk along the arm's contour imply light from the top left. This study corresponds to the winged Victory (Fig. 3), holding a palm frond in her right hand, which is painted in a lunette above one of the windows in the Camerino. The programme in the Camerino includes various allegorical personifications, for which, until now, only one preliminary (Security) was known to survive. (25) The drawing for Victory adds to the corpus and underscores Annibale's thoroughness of procedure. He was willing to clarify anatomical detail for even a relatively subsidiary figure.

Larger in scale, but similarly executed in black and white chalk on (faded) blue paper, is an impressive canine likeness (Fig. 5). (26) The dog's contours are incised, and the sheet has oil stains, presumably from paint in the studio. Despite such visible signs of use, the drawing resists straightforward connection to a known work. It may relate to a preliminary in Besancon, long recognised to be for the dog beside Paris (Paris and Mercury) in the Farnese Gallery, (27) yet different in pose and more generic in type than the sheet under discussion. The latter represents, almost certainly from nature, an Italian mastiff (cane corso) (28) with a collar and a detail of its paw. Its high degree of specificity leaves open the possibility that this could be the portrait of a household pet, perhaps belonging to Cardinal Farnese. (29)

The last study to be introduced is, like the others, drawn in black chalk with highlights in white chalk. (30) In this case, the blue paper, which has retained more of its original colour, bears a watermark of a shield containing the letter 'M' surmounted by a star, identical to the watermark found in many of the preliminaries for the Palazzo Farnese. (31) On one side of the sheet (Fig. 6) are sketched the upper bodies of two men (maybe using the same studio model), as well as a head in profile and a hand. The man lying on the ground, to the left, seems to have fallen, his right fist raised and clenched; the other man, upright, bends his left arm in a defensive gesture. These may be early discarded ideas for the Combat of Perseus and Phineas that Annibale painted on a wall of the Farnese Gallery. (32) Alternatively, they might refer to an unrealised picture: for example, Cardinal Farnese first enlisted the Carracci to paint a cycle of his illustrious father's military victories, a project that was sporadically revived, but never came to fruition. (33) The dry, more schematic handling of chalk is nonetheless consistent with Annibale's late manner, as seen in his preparatory studies for the Perseus scene. (34)

The other side of the drawing (Fig. 7) can be securely linked to the somewhat earlier frescoed vault of the Farnese Gallery. It shows the upper back and arm of a recumbent male figure, precisely corresponding to the satyr at the foot of the chariot in the Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne (Fig. 8). A well-known preliminary in the Musee des Beaux-Arts at Besancon establishes this figure's overall pose (Fig. 9). (35) In the one published here, Annibale subsequently focused on the anatomy and shading of the left arm. Once again, true to his meticulous attention to detail, the artist wanted deeply to understand his subject in each of its parts.

Along the bottom of the sheet is an old inscription in French that specifies the relationship to the fresco ('bras du faune qui est au pied du chart dans le tableau du triomphe de Baccus'). It compares with notations, written likely by Pierre Crozat (1665-1740), which are seen on Annibale's studies in Besancon and elsewhere. (36) Numbering in the lower right (on all four of the drawings introduced here) confirms the link to Crozat. (37) The wealthy financier managed to acquire a large share of Annibale's preliminaries for the Palazzo Farnese, which originally belonged to Angeloni, and which the artist Pierre Mignard (1612-95) brought to France. (38) Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694-1774) listed them in his sales catalogue of Crozat's collection and purchased almost the entire lot for himself at auction in Paris in 1741. (39) Sold again, in 1775, immediately after Mariette's death, they eventually made their way, for the most part, into the Louvre. (40) Yet over 20 other examples of these studies were later bought by the artist Jean Gigoux, and bequeathed, along with the rest of his collection, to his native city of Besancon in 1894. (41) Those housed in the Musee des Beaux-Arts since the bequest bear the collector's mark of Gigoux (Lugt 1164) and the museum (Lugt 238c), whereas only the first stamp appears in the four that, until recently, were in the town's library.

Cardinal Farnese rewarded Annibale Carracci with a pittance upon his completion of the Gallery, an affront that is said to have left him severely depressed during his final years. (42) Fortunately, collectors, especially in France, some of them artists themselves, better valued Annibale's herculean achievement and sought to preserve his graphic preliminaries. Four handsome studies, here brought to light, and reunited with others that share a provenance from Gigoux to Angeloni, have survived as many centuries thanks to the judicious appreciation of an extraordinary draftsman.

An earlier version of this essay was presented at the International Journal of Arts & Sciences Conference, Paris in April 2013. Generous support from the Texas Fund for Curatorial Research, as well as the McDowell Center for Critical Languages and the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Arlington, facilitated my research. I am indebted to Richard Brettell, who first encouraged me to study drawings in French regional museums, and to Emmanuel Guigon and his unfailingly helpful staff at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Besancon, above all, Ghislaine Courtet.

(1/) J.R. Martin, The Farnese Gallery, Princeton, 1965, listing 18 preparatory studies (one of them by Agostino Carracci) in Besancon.

(2/) Official transfer of the four sheets from the library to the museum took place in 2002.1 am grateful to Marie-Claire Waille, Conservateur of the Bibliotheque de Besancon, for the information. Further on Gigoux, below.

(3/) R.Zapperi, The Summons of the Carracci to Rome: Some New Documentary Evidence', The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXXVIII, no. 996 (March 1986), pp. 203-05.

(4/) F. Mozzetti, 'Il Camerino Farnese di Annibale Carracci', Melanges de l'Ecole francaise de Rome: Italic et Mediterranee, vol. CXIV, no. 2 (2002), pp. 809-36.

(5/) Martin, op. cit. in n. 1, pp. 21-48.

(6/) Despite Bellori's gloss (1672), the cycle's meaning remains elusive. Charles Dempsey proposed an influential interpretation in light of Ranuccio Farnese's marriage (1600): '"Et nos cedamus Amori": Observations on the Farnese Gallery', Art Bulletin, vol. L, no. 4 (December 1968), pp. 363-74. The epithalamic connection is now questioned; see R. Zapperi. Eros e controriforma: preistoria della galleria Farnese, Turin, 1994.

(7/) Early accounts differ, some implying Annibale's jealousy, but his letter to their cousin Ludovico in Bologna, transcribed by Carlo Cesare Malvasia (1678), points to growing frustration: 'the unbearable pedantry of Agostino ... he got in my way and disturbed me by constantly bringing poets, writers of novels, and courtiers up onto the scaffolding, which was the reason why he himself did not work, nor let others do so, etc.' See A. Summerscale, Malvasia's Life of the Carracci Commentary and Translation, University Park, 2000, pp. 171-72.

(8/) 'Cephalus and Aurora' and a scene whose subject has been variously identified, depicting a woman borne off by a sea god (?), the cartoons for both of which, also by Agostino, are now in the National Gallery, London; see G. Finaldi et al., 'The Conservation of the Carracci Cartoons in the National Gallery', National Gallery Technical Bulletin 16 (1995), pp. 30-46.

(9/) Recent attempts to identify Agostino's hand elsewhere, including the Camerino, are not entirely persuasive: R. Zapperi, 'Annibale Carracci a Palazzo Farnese: studi recenti', Bolletino d'arte, series VII, vol. II (April-June 2009), pp. 141-48, for an excellent critique. I intend to return to the vexed question of collaboration in the Farnese Palace in a future study.

(10/) M. Vaccaro, 'Drawing in Renaissance Italy', A Companion to Renaissance and Baroque Art, ed. B. Bohn and J. Saslow, Chichester, 2013, pp. 168-88, with bibliography.

(11/) C. Loisel, Gli affreschi dei Carracci: studi e disegni preparatori, exh. cat., Palazzo Magnani, Bologna, 2000; S. Vitali,' Between family brand and personal ambition: strategies and limits of collaboration in the Carracci workshop', in Kollektive Autoschraft in der Kunst, ed. R. Mader, Bern, 2012, pp.139-58.

(12/) On the Carracci's disregard for their drawings, see Malvasia in Summerscale, op. cit. in n. 7, pp. 265-66. Malvasia points to the partial impressions on Agostino's drawings as evidence of their reuse to wipe printing plates and transcribes a vivid inscription on yet another, written by an artist (Mastellata) who evidently saved the sheet before Agostino could rub a pan and light a fire with it.

(13/) F. Angeloni, La Historia Augusta da Giulio Cesare insino a Costantino if Magno, Rome, 1641, p. 251 Cseicento vari disegni di [Annibale] appresso di me, inventati la maggior parte per orname, con Pittura, la celebre Galleria Farnesiana'). For more on Angeloni, see F. Rangoni, 'Per un ritratto di Francesco Angeloni', Paragone, vol. XLII, no. 499 (September 1991), pp. 46-67.

(14/) Martin, op. cit. in n. 1, pp. 169-70.

(15/) For example, D. De Grazia, 'Hercules at Rest', Cleveland Museum of Art Members Magazine, vol. XXXVIII, no. 1 (January 1998), pp. 6-7 (illustrated).

(16/) Notwithstanding conjecture to the contrary (e.g., S. Ginzburg Carignani, La Galleria Farnese: gli affreschi dei Carracci, Milan, 2008), the Camerino was demonstrably undertaken by Annibale, without Agostino, prior to work in the Gallery; see Mozzetti, op. cit. in n. 4, and review by Xavier Salomon, The Burlington Magazine, vol. CLI, no. 1279 (October2009), pp. 704-06.

(17/) G. P. Bellori, The Lives of the Modern Painters, Sculptors and Architects, trans. A. Wohl, ed. H. Wohl and T. Montanari, Cambridge, 2009, p. 100.

(18/) V. Vittoria, Osservazioni sopra il Libro della Felsina Pittrice ..., Rome, 1703, p. 52.

(19/) Paris, Musee du Louvre, INV 7203 recto and INV 7201; see C. Loisel, Inventaire general des dessins italiens (Musee du Louvre: Cabinet des Dessins): Ludovico, Agostino, Annibale Carracci, vol. 7, Paris, 2004, pp. 233-34 (illustrated).

(20/) Paris, Musee du Louvre, INV 7204; see Loisel, op. cit. in n. 19, p. 229 (illustrated).

(21/) Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts, INV D.5161; 25.2x 22.3cm. (max. dimensions); hinged and on the same mount as D.5832 (discussed below). Jean Gigoux's mark (Lugt 1164) and the no. '11' appear, respectively, in the lower left and right corners. I thank the conservator Agnes Vallet (oral communication, 2014) for confirming that the paper was once blue.

(22/) Paris, Musee du Louvre, INV 7334; see Loisel, op. cit. in n. 19, p. 230 (illustrated). The no. '5' in the lower right denotes its common provenance with all four drawings here introduced (see below).

(23/) Vittoria, op. cit. in n. 18, p. 52 ('nel mio studio ammirasi il disegno in foglio dell'Ulisse legato all'albero della nave, figura stupendissima'). The possibility that he was referring to the sheet now in Besancon cannot be excluded, since it once belonged to Pierre Crozat, who had purchased Vittoria's entire collection of drawings; see P. J. Mariette, Description sommaire des dessins des grands maitres d'Italie, des Pays-Bas et de France du cabinet de feu M. Crozat, Paris, 1741, p. ix (further on Crozat, below).

(24/) Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts, INV D.5832; 13 x 23.7cm. (max. dimensions); black chalk, heightened in white chalk, on (faded) blue paper; verso lined; hinged and on the same mount as D.5161. Jean Gigoux's mark (Lugt 1164) and the no. '12' appear, respectively, in the lower left and right.

(25/) Martin, op. cit. in n. 1, especially pp. 177-78 (illustrated).

(26/) Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts, INV D.5848; 47 x 25.8cm. (max. dimensions); verso lined; hinged on a blue mount with gold border. Jean Gigoux's mark (Lugt 1164) and the no. '61' appear, respectively, in the lower left and right.

(27/) Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts, INV D. 1538 verso: see Martin, op. cit. in n. 1, especially pp. 264-65 (illustrated).

(28/) I thank my students, especially Cristiana Ginatta, for help in identifying the breed.

(29/) A cane corso in the cardinal's household bit a police officer in 1592, as per report of a larger brawl, transcribed in R. Morselli and B. Furlotti, Le collezioni Gonzaga: il carteggio tra Roma e Mantova, Cinisello Balsamo, 2003, p. 199.

(30/) Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts, INV D.5830; 33x22.2cm. (max. dimensions). Jean Gigoux's mark (Lugt 1164) and the no. '13' appear, respectively, in the recto's lower left and right corner; an inscription runs along a paper strip at the bottom edge (see below).

(31/) Annibale and Agostino frequently used paper with this watermark (indicating its production at a mill in Fabriano between 1580 and 1600) in their studies for the Palazzo Farnese; see A. De La Chapelle, 'Choix et circulation des feuilles dans les ateliers d'artistes', in Loisel, op. cit. inn. 19, especially pp. 380-85, with bibliography.

(32/) Martin, op. cit. in n. 1, especially pp. 231-33 (illustrated) for this scene and related preliminaries.

(33/) Regarding the fitful plans to decorate the Sala Grande (Sala di Fasti di Alessandro Farnese), see Zapperi, op. cit. in n. 6, pp. 96-105.

(34/) Compare, for example, Windsor Castle, Royal Library, INV. 2357.

(35/) Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts, INV D. 1452 recto; see Martin, op. cit. in n. 1, especially pp. 204,254. It has not been hitherto noticed that this sheet bears a watermark identical to that found in D.5830 and other drawings for the Farnese murals (see above, n. 31).

(36/) For instance, Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts, INV D.1491 ['Du tableau de Jupiter et Junon'], and Paris, Musee du Louvre, INV 7319 ['figure de Polipheme du tableau de Polipheme et de Galattee', inscribed on the drawing itself]. I suspect that notations of other sheets are now lost, because the paper strips on which they were often written have been discarded. As recently as 1965, Martin transcribed the inscription on a strip (present whereabouts unknown) that is no longer attached to its drawing (INV D. 1452; seen. 35). The writing, albeit previously identified as Mariette's, is closer to examples of Crozat's hand. I thank Cordelia Hattori for her help.

(37/) C. Hattori, 'The drawings collection of Pierre Crozat (1665-1740)', in Collecting prints and drawings in Europe, c. 1500-1750, ed. C. Baker et al., Aldershot, 2003, pp. 173-204, for the system of numbering in Crozat's drawings.

(38/) Mignard arranged these into three volumes that his heirs dismantled and sold after his death. Crozat purchased the contents of two volumes; those in the other went to the painter Charles-Antoine Coypel (1694-1752). See C.Loisel-Legrand, 'La collection de dessins italiens de Pierre Mignard', in Pierre Mignard: le Romain', ed. J. C. Boyer, Paris, 1997, pp. 55-88.

(39/) Mariette, op. cit. in note 23, especially pp. vii, 50-51. He bought 132 of the 'Etudes d'Annibale Carrache pour le tableaux de la Gallerie Farnese' (total 149 sheets, 21 of which for the Camerino).

(40/) The second largest cache of drawings for the Palazzo Farnese, in the Royal Collection at Windsor, derives from other sources, notably, Annibale's student Domenichino; see R. Wittkower, The Drawings of the Carracci in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, London, 1952, p. 134.

(41/) On Gigoux, see S. Bernard, 'Jean Gigoux Romantique. Itineraire d'un Collectionneur visionnaire', in De Cranach a Gericault, la collection Jean Gigoux du Musee de Besancon, exh. cat., Cinisello Balsamo, 2013, pp.12-41.

(42/) Bellori, op. cit. in n.l7, p. 93. Giovanni Baglione (1642) had earlier mentioned the incident; see C. Robertson, The Invention of Annibale Carracci, Cinisello Balsamo, 2008, p. 195, note 66.

Mary Vaccaro is Professor of Art History at the University of Texas at Arlington.
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Title Annotation:FEATURE: CARRACCI DRAWINGS; Annibale Carracci
Author:Vaccaro, Mary
Publication:Apollo
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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