Master Drawings, Autumn 2023: Italian Drawings

Outstanding Italian drawings scholarship is the focus of the Autumn issue of Master Drawings (Vol. 61, no. 3), featuring many new attributions and compelling discoveries.

Gracing the cover is a drawing of the Virgin and Child now ascribed to the sixteenth-century artist Cavalier Giuseppe Cesari d’Arpino. Together twenty-eight autograph sheets by the draftsman, many of which are previously unpublished, are presented in a supplement to the author’s 2013 catalogue raisonné. This body of Arpino’s work emerged over the last decade, often unconvincingly catalogued under the names of other artists. Uncover stunning drawings in various media in this eye-opening read.

The issue contains an additional seven articles covering a range of drawings by exquisite Italian masters of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. An essay looking at the work of Bernardino Gatti details a fresh attribution for this North Italian Mannerist artist. A recently discovered Roman fresco cycle is proposed to be by the talented Prospero Fontana evidenced by related drawings in the Louvre and the British Museum. Another article examines three sheets in the lesser known Museo Valtellinese di Storia e Arte in Sondrio; formerly attributed to Cesare Ligari, the author reveals why they are remarkably likely to be by the great Tintoretto (and his pupils).

Read on to learn why Guido Reni is proposed as the draftsman behind three of six masterful cartoons in the Prado Museum, previously judged to be by the Carracci cousins or an anonymous Bolognese artist. In another essay a double-sided sheet of life studies in red chalk is posited to indeed be by one of the renowned family dynasty: Ludovico Carracci. The author suggests that a more nuanced view of Ludovico’s late drawings is warranted. A thoughtful analysis of three pastels adds to our understanding of brothers Felice and Vincenzo Pellegrini and their relationship to their master, Federico Barocci. In the final article in the issue, seventeenth-century Florentine artist Lorenzo Todini is given belated credit for two beautiful floral vases executed in opaque watercolor on vellum, adding to his oeuvre of a total of fourteen such works.

Three reviews round out this issue: a reading of the Louvre’s publication on sixteenth-century Bolognese drawings; an analysis of the catalogue of eighteenth-century Italian drawings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest; and a thought piece on two 2022 exhibitions featuring drawings by contemporary Italian artist Guiseppe Penone.

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Image: Guido Reni (?), Cupid Preparing an Arrow (Sacred Love) (detail), Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado