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The Visitation
Pen and brown ink and wash, on laid paper.
9 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches (248 x 191 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
I, 101f

In 1627, Guercino signed a contract to paint two canvases for the lateral walls of the Giroldo Fiordibelli chapel in the cathedral at Reggio Emilia: a Visitation and a Beheading of SS. John and Paul (a study for which is on the pedestal nearby). Guercino did not deliver the paintings until 1632, but when he finally turned to the project, he produced a fascinating series of studies for both compositions. The Morgan's two studies for the Visitation are typical of the artist's exploratory working method. In one version, Zacharias remains on the steps above the Virgin and St. Elizabeth, while in the other, he greets Joseph in the background. Additional drawings in the set depict the Virgin still seated on the donkey. The study showing the Virgin at center and St. Elizabeth at right is closest to the final painting, but the positions of all the figures would be further modified. The frantic energy of the pen lines conveys a very different tone than is found in the far more stately final work. -- Exhibition label for I, 101f and 1956.21: Guercino, virtuoso draftsman, Morgan Library & Museum, 4 October 2019-2 February 2020.

Sir Charles Greville (1762/63-1832), London (L. 549, verso); George Guy Greville, 4th Earl of Warwick (1818-1893), Warwick (L. 2600); probably his sale, Christie's, London, 20-21 May 1896; 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 L. 1509); his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), New York.
Associated names: 

Greville, Charles, 1762-1832, former owner.
Warwick, George Guy Greville, Earl of, 1818-1893, former owner.
Murray, Charles Fairfax, 1849-1919, former owner.
Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont), 1837-1913, former owner.
Morgan, J. P. (John Pierpont), 1867-1943, former owner.


Marciari, John. Guercino : virtuoso draftsman. New York : Morgan Library & Museum, in association with Paul Holberton Publishing, 2019, no. 13, repr.
Stampfle and Bean 1968, no. 40; Mahon 1968b, no. 133; Varriano 1974, no. 10; Salerno 1988, under no. 140; Mahon and Turner 1989, 39; Stone 1991a, no. 25.

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