Pomponio Amalteo

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Pomponio Amalteo
Flight into Egypt. Verso: Two Studies of Drapery and Studies of a Nude and Mother and Child
ca. 1535
Pen and brown ink and wash, over black chalk, with white opaque watercolor, on blue laid paper; framing lines in pen and dark brown ink. Verso: black chalk.
8 1/4 x 9 5/16 inches (210 x 239 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
IV, 70

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Inscribed at lower right in pen and brown ink: "del amateo"; on verso, at lower center in black chalk: "Pomponio di Girolamo del Amalteo"; at lower left, "51" (encircled); beneath this, in graphite: "formerly in Cosway Colln"; beneath this, in pen and brown ink, by Esdaile, "1831 WE 10x 62."; at lower right in pen and brown ink, "Pomponio Amaltas Fresla (?)/ Disc.o Geniro(?) del Pordenone / con(?) il suo fratello Girola[mo?]".

Jonathan Richardson, Jr. (Lugt 2170); Richard Cosway (1740-1821), London (Lugt 629); William Esdaile (1758-1837), London and Teddington, Middlesex (Lugt 2617); probably his sale, London, Christie's, 20 June 1840, lot 414, as G. Ant. Amati [sic], "The Flight into Egypt, pen and bistre, on blue paper; from Cosway's Collection" -17- ); bought by Buchanan (with lots 413 and 415) for 17s. ; probably the dealer, William Buchanan (1777-1864), London; Thomas Thane (1782-1846), London (Lugt 2461); Sir John Charles Robinson (1824-1913), Edinburgh and London (Lugt 1433); his sale, London, Christie Manson & Woods, 12 May 1902, lot 5 as Pomponio Amalteo, "Flight into Egypt-pen and wash, on grey paper From the Richardson, Cosway and Esdaile Collections"; bought by Johnson for £0.6.0 ; Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), London and Florence; from whom purchased through Galerie Alexandre Imbert, Rome, in 1909 by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), New York (no mark; see Lugt 1509); his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), New York.

The present drawing bears an old attribution to Pomponio Amalteo in the lower right corner, which has been unanimously accepted by modern scholarship. The drawing is close, in reverse, to Amalteo’s fresco of around 1535 on the right wall of the nave in the Oratory of Santa Maria dei Battuti in San Vito al Tagliamento, Friuli (Cohen 1975, fig. 36), and could be a study for this fresco. Particularly striking are the similarities of the figure leading the ass, and the Virgin and Child in the drawing to the corresponding figures in the San Vito fresco.

The composition of the Morgan drawing was re-used for a much later altarpiece for the same subject in the chapel of the Montereale-Mantica family in the Cathedral at Pordenone (Cohen 1980, 124-25), which Amalteo was working on in around 1556. However, the poses of the figures have been altered and the composition significantly elaborated to the degree that if connected, the Morgan sheet must represent a very early stage in the painting’s development.

The verso of the sheet shows four studies, in black chalk, one of which – at lower center – is a rather uncertain study for the Virgin and Child on the recto. Both recto and verso show Amalteo working in a looser and more experimental mode than the other double-sided sheet by the artist in the Morgan Library collection (No. [1982.25]).


Tietze and Tietze-Conrat 1944, 1: 35, no. 23; 2: pl. XCV, no. 1; Popham and Wilde 1950, 301, no. 745; New York 1965-66, 62, no. 99; Cohen 1973, 253-54, figs. 9 and 10; Menomonie 1973-74; Cohen 1975, 54-56, figs. 35 and 37; Furlan 1975, 16-17, fig. 17 (recto); Furlan 1976, 246; Pordenone 1980, 74, fig. 3 (verso); Cohen 1980, 36, 78, fig. 149 (verso); Furlan 1993, 265, fig. 59 (recto); Furlan 1998, 280, no. D45; Pordenone 2000, 132-33, no. 25; Jacoby 2014, 251.
Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, IV, 70.


Watermark: none.
The composition of this drawing was re-used for a much later altarpiece for the same subject in the chapel of the Montereale-Mantica family in the Cathedral at Pordenone, which Amalteo was working on around 1556.

Associated names: 

Richardson, Jonathan, 1694-1771, former owner.
Cosway, Richard, 1740-1821, former owner.
Esdaile, William, 1758-1837, former owner.
Thane, Thomas, 1782-1846, former owner.
Robinson, J. C. (John Charles), Sir, 1824-1913
Murray, Charles Fairfax, 1849-1919, former owner.
Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont), 1837-1913, former owner.

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