Cesare Nebbia

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Cesare Nebbia
(Orvieto ca. 1536–ca. 1614 Orvieto)

St. Susanna Refusing to Sacrifice to a Pagan God, ca. 1595

Pen and brown ink and brown wash; squared for transfer in red chalk

Purchased on the Edwin H. Herzog Fund, 1999

Item description: 

From 1595 to 1597, Nebbia decorated the apse of the church of Santa Susanna in Rome with a series of large frescoes illustrating scenes from the life of the early Christian martyr Susanna. In this preparatory study for the large fresco to the right of the altar, Susanna refuses to worship a large statue of Mars, which stands on a stone pedestal, while a servant brings an animal for sacrifice. In the finished fresco, the figure of Mars is replaced by Jupiter, the stone pedestal transformed into a tripod, and the sacrificial animal replaced by a libation—all very clear indications that Nebbia's design was revised in accordance with a textual source.