Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
ANNIBALE CARRACCI (Italian, 1560 - 1609)
of a Boy with Eyes Closed (recto)
chalk heightened with white on blue-gray paper (both)
7 3/8 x 5 ¾ inches (188x 146 mm.)
Condition: No made up areas or repair
Removal of paper backing from verso;
lessening of two ink stains.
"Master Drawings, 15th-20th centuries", Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, NM. July-September 2001. (Carracci on exhibition only)
Fred R. Kline. "Notes on Two Newly Discovered Drawings by Annibale Carracci", www,klinegallery.com, 2001.
Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe ( here first attributed to Annibale Carracci ).
Consulting Scholar: Sir Denis Mahon kindly offered his support based on transparencies and Fred R. Kline's research.
by Annibale Carracci
Copyright 2001 Fred R. Kline
Two important recto and verso examples of Annibale Carracci's rare black and white chalk drawings from circa 1583-85 have recently been discovered in Santa Fe at Fred R. Kline Gallery, dealers in old master drawings. The sheet was acquired from an American estate where it remained unattributed since 1950. The newly discovered Kline sheet with its fully realized recto and verso character heads refers to models and poses found in a number of Annibale's drawings and paintings from circa 1583 to 1596, a surprisingly extended period of referential use.
The recto testa di carattere or character head, Head of a Boy with his Eyes Closed, is undoubtedly a related study of the head of the same boy in the Louvre drawing, A Boy Taking off his Shirt (1583-85, red chalk), which in turn was used as a somewhat more realized study for the figure removing his shirt at lower left in the painting The Baptism of Christ (1585, San Gregorio, Bologna). Close to exact stylistic correlations between the Kline and Louvre heads are clearly seen in the distinctive attitude and direction of the profile pose; the deft and delicate handling of the graceful contours and hatching; and, indeed, the matching facial features of the shared model. It should be noted that the Louvre verso includes black chalk, like the medium of the Kline sheet: c.f. five studies for a Penitent Magdalene unrelated to The Baptism of Christ.
The Kline recto suggests close links as well to two other preparatory drawings for The Baptism of Christ: the British Museum's An Angel Playing a Violin (1583-85, red chalk) and the Art Gallery of Ontario's Study of a Hand Holding a Bow (1583-85, black chalk heightened with white on blue-gray paper), both studies for the two violin-playing angels in the painting. In comparison to the head of the angel in the BM drawing, the Kline recto suggests a related distinctive profile pose and similar deft handling; and importantly, the subjective attitude suggested by the tilt of the head and the serene face of the Kline recto could convincingly be seen as an idea Annibale may have considered for the head of an angel violinist listening to the sweet tones of the violin. Complimenting this suggestion, a further supportive comparison follows quite naturally with the AGO drawing. Juxtaposing this plausible study of the head of a violinist in the Kline recto to the AGO hand of a violinist holding a bow, a strong kinship materializes when subject, handling, black with white chalk medium, and paper--even down to the similar oil spots on the two sheets--work together seamlessly as two complimentary studies developing the subject of the two angel violinists.
Another BM drawing, A Boy Taking off His Sock (ca. 1583-85, red chalk)--plausibly an unused study related to the youth at extreme lower left in The Baptism of Christ--clearly shares the same boy's head and facial features with the Kline recto, with a similar but slightly readjusted pose. One can imagine Annibale's choice in Baptism between a boy taking off his shirt and a boy taking off his sock, or using both, and the creative choices developing around numerous drawing ideas. As with his chosen subject of a boy taking off his shirt--his eyes notably closed in the Louvre study--so the boy taking off his sock might also have been considered in a pose with his head tilted slightly back and his eyes closed, exactly as depicted in the Kline recto . This hypothesis is clearly feasible, as the evidence of the Kline drawing convincingly suggests.
The verso, Head of a Woman with Braided Hair, is a rare female testa di carattere among Annibale's known drawings, yet it is clearly the prototype for a favored woman's head, somewhat idealized, which the artist placed in a number of paintings as a recognizable profile characterized by a distinctive sloping nose, often parted lips, and a braided hairstyle.
Early development of the verso facial type begins to appear clearly but not yet fully realized in a number of the female heads in the Palazzo Fava Europa cycle ( 1583-84, Bologna). However, four paintings ranging from 1585 to circa 1595 demonstrate a more realized and extended use of the Kline verso. In Pieta with Saints (1585, Pincoteca Nazionale, Parma), the head of the female saint at lower right clearly suggests the same model as found in the verso. The verso is again echoed as Venus, in Venus and Adonis (1588-89, Prado), where a strong suggestion of the Kline recto can also be seen in the head of Adonis, linking the two studies on the Kline sheet to the Prado painting. In Christ and the Woman of Samaria ( 1593-94, Brera), the head of the Samarian woman suggests a clear relationship to the verso. With Choice of Hercules (1595-97, Capodimonte), the verso finds its late manifestation in the head of the temptress at right.
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