Polidoro da Caravaggio

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Polidoro da Caravaggio
(Caravaggio ca. 1495–ca. 1543 Messina)

Christ on the Mount of Olives

Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white gouache, over black chalk, on blue paper, faded to gray green; squared for transfer in black chalk

Gift of Janos Scholz, 1979

Item description: 

A native of Caravaggio, near Milan, Polidoro arrived in Rome around 1517–18 and joined Raphael's team, which, at the time, was decorating the Vatican Loggie. The scene shown here, in which the sleeping apostles are slumped in various poses before a rocky ledge, with a tree at right and a mountainous landscape beyond, reveal Polidoro to have been a master of the landscape idiom.

This study has been related to a fresco of the same subject in the Capella della Passione of the church Santa Maria della Pietà in Camposanto Teutonico, Rome, thought to have been decorated by Polidoro ca. 1520–23. Other scholars have suggested that the Morgan drawing may be dated later, between 1527 and 1540, and that it served as a study for one of two lost paintings of the same subject in Sicilian private collections.