Italian School

Download image: 
Italian School
16th century
Kneeling Cleric in a Cope (St. Ildefonso?), Virgin Seated on Clouds, and a Secondary Study for Kneeling Cleric. Verso: Section of Base of a Column, Nude Male Figure Seen from the Back, and Architectural Study
ca. 1540
Red chalk, over stylus indentations (Virgin), and pen and brown ink (secondary study of kneeling cleric), on paper; verso: pen and brown ink, and red chalk (architectural study), over stylus indentations indentations (base of a column and architectural study).
14 5/8 x 8 13/16 inches (371 x 223 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
IV, 187a, b

Download verso image: 

Inscribed at upper center, in pen and brown ink, "A DEI GENITRIX" (this changed to "GENITALE") "VESTEM SACRAM / ACCIPIT D ALFONVS" (this changed to "ALFONSVS"); on verso, presumably by the artist, at center, left, just beneath base of a column, "Basa corytia" [i.e. Corinthian, or "conytia"?] "e stanza / in palazo magiore / una logia verso lago"; at lower center, in red chalk, turning sheet through 90° to left, labelling the architectural study, "stucco" (?); "bronza"; at upper right, upside down, and cut by edge of sheet, in red chalk, "[...]nza"; in lower right corner, upside down, in graphite, "1594".

Sir Charles Greville (1763-1832), English officer (Lugt 549); by descent to his nephew, George Guy Greville, fourth Earl of Warwick (1818-1893), Warwick Castle (Lugt 2600); 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 inscription on the recto translates as “From the Mother of God Saint Alphons receives the Holy Robe”. It seems, however, that it is Saint Ildefonso, not Alphons, who is depicted. Born in Toledo, this seventh century Spanish prelate was abbot of the Benedictine monastery at Agli, near Toledo, before he was appointed archbishop. It is related that he saw the Virgin seated on his episcopal throne in the cathedral. As he approached she threw over him a chasuble of heavenly origin.

The drawing was in the Fairfax Murray collection as by Baldassare Peruzzi and the attribution has since then wavered between Polidoro da Caravaggio and Perino del Vaga. The Morgan sheet is close in style to certain drawings given to Polidoro, such as the Virgin and Child Crowned by Two Angels in the Teylers Museum, Haarlem.1

The red chalk architectural study on the verso seems to show a doorway with a soppraporta above, and to the right of this, what may be a separate study for a recessed area of a wall with a stucco panel flanked by two bronze reliefs. The pen inscription on the verso might be translated as “base of a column, and a room in a large palace: a loggia giving onto a lake”. A vertical row of dots in pen and brown ink along an indented line, at left, were used for the construction of the study for a column of a base.


  1. Teylers Museum, Haarlem, inv. B94. See Meijer 1984, no. 21. The pen-and-ink sketch of a praying figure on the recto of the Morgan sheet is similar in pose to that of the foreground figure in Polidoro’s drawing of a group in adoration in the Courtauld Gallery, London, inv. D.1952.RW.2296.

Watermark: none.
The drawing was in the Fairfax Murray collection as by Baldassare Peruzzi and the attribution has since then wavered between Polidoro and Perino del Vaga.

Associated names: 

Polidoro, da Caravaggio, approximately 1495-approximately 1543, Circle of.
Perino, del Vaga, 1500 or 1501-1547, Possible attribution.
Peruzzi, Baldassarre, 1481-1536, Formerly attributed to.
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.

Artist page: