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Rome After Raphael
January 22 through May 9, 2010

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Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola; 1503–1540)
Pietà, after Michelangelo
Pen and dark brown ink, gray-brown wash, over black chalk, with some red chalk
11 7/16 x 8 1/2 inches (290 x 214 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; I, 47

Michelangelo's most famous marble sculpture, the Pietà, which Parmigianino would have seen in a small chapel at the southeastern corner of old St. Peter's Basilica, served as the inspiration for this drawing. In vivid contrast to Michelangelo's sculpture, Parmigianino transformed the Virgin Mary's passive acceptance of her son's death into a passionate and very physical grieving; she stares intently at her son and thrusts out her arm in anguish at her loss.

The artist's penmanship is wonderfully spare and free, capturing the softness of the flesh and flow of drapery with animated strokes of the pen.

Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola; 1503–1540)
Prometheus Animating Man, ca. 1524–27
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, over black chalk
5 3/8 x 6 1/16 inches (135 x 154 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; IV, 45

The subject of the present drawing was likely inspired by a passage in Boccaccio's Genealogia deorum gentilium (On the Genealogy of the Gods of the Gentiles), which draws a parallel between Prometheus and God. Set against a dramatic sky, Prometheus opens his arms in an all-embracing gesture to reach the sun's chariot and obtain the spark that will enliven the clay man who sits in front of him, modeled in his image. The gesture recalls that of the figure of God in Michelangelo's Creation of Man on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Popular during the Renaissance, the ancient Greek myth of Prometheus visualizes the intense belief in the near-godlike abilities of man.

Pellegrino Tibaldi (Puria di Valsolda 1527–1596 Milan)
Two Seated Barbarian Captives
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, and white gouache, over black chalk
10 7/8 x 15 9/16 inches (274 x 395mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; I, 37

This magnificent drawing is a partial study for a mural that no longer exists but once decorated a courtyard off the vicolo Savelli, near the Chiesa Nuova, in Rome. A print recording the complete design includes, above a door, a seated figure resting beside two shields, in a pose very similar to that of the barbarian seen here at the right. Enveloped in generous folds of heavy drapery and finely modeled with chalk hatching, the figures are captured in the sculptural, voluminous style inspired by Michelangelo and transmitted through the example of Daniele da Volterra.

Perino del Vaga (Florence 1501–1547 Rome)
Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white gouache, over black chalk; cut to a circle
8 3/8 inches (213 mm) diameter
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; I, 21

Like Perino's Christ Healing the Lame at the Pool of Bethesda, this drawing is a design for one of a series of six circular plaques that were to be engraved in rock crystal and mounted on a pair of silver candelabra, commissioned by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.

This scene depicts one of Christ's miracles, after a sermon on a mountain, when he multiplied a few loaves of bread and two fish that had been brought to him by a young boy to feed five thousand followers.

Circle of Baldassare Peruzzi (Ancaiano 1481–1536 Rome)
Moses Striking Water from the Rock, ca. 1520–40
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white gouache, on brown washed paper
10 1/4 x 15 11/16 inches (261 x 398 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; IV, 19

Traditionally given to Raphael's follower Polidoro da Caravaggio, whose influence it reflects, this drawing has also been attributed to Peruzzi, or an artist of their entourage. The shallowness of the scene emulates ancient Roman relief sculpture, in particular as reinterpreted in the Vatican Loggie basamento scenes executed by Raphael's workshop in monochrome gold.

A print after this drawing by the Roman engraver Michele Lucchese (active mid-1530s to mid-1560s), as well as a majolica plate (now in the Art Institute of Chicago) from Urbino of ca. 1545 depicting the same scene, attest to the popularity of this composition.

Baldassarre Peruzzi (Ancaiano, near Siena 1481–1536 Rome)
Holy Family with Saints
Pen and brown ink, brown wash
Inscribed at lower left, in pen and brown ink, titiano (partially effaced)
7 3/8 x 5 5/8 inches (189 x 142 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; I, 44

One of the most creative architects and painters in Rome during the first half of the sixteenth century, Peruzzi arrived there in 1503 from his native Siena. He found employment assisting Raphael on the frescoes of the Vatican Stanze (papal apartments) and on the design and decoration of the palace of the banker Agostino Chigi, the most sophisticated dwelling in Rome at the time.

With a spontaneity of gesture and a sure, light touch, Peruzzi penned rhythmic outlines of form. Then, brushing in areas of wash for shadow, he highlighted the volumes as if illuminated by a directed source of light. A drawing such as this would have been used as the design for a painted altarpiece.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.