Pier Francesco Mola

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Pier Francesco Mola
1612-1666
Man in Bed Looking at a Skull; Allegory of the Passage of Time
Pen and brown ink on laid paper.
6 1/16 x 10 1/8 inches (155 x 258 mm)
Gift of Janos Scholz.
1985.92
Inscription: 

Numbered at lower right in pen and brown ink, "62".

Provenance: 
Bolognese Caricature Album; Walter Hugelshofer, Zurich; Janos Scholz, New York (see Lugt S. 2933b).
Bibliography: 

One Hundred Italian Drawings from the 14th to the 18th Centuries from the János Scholz Collection. New York : New School Art Center, 1971, no. 56.
Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twenty-First Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984-1986. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1989, p. 362.

Notes: 

Like so many of Pier Francesco Mola's caricatures, this example has both universal and personal aspects. A man lying in bed, contemplating a skull and hourglass, can surely be understood as an Allegory of Time, of time and life passing and the inevitability of death. In this particular case, based on inscriptions in other drawings by Mola, we can identify the man as Niccolò Simonelli (1611-1671), a connoisseur and collector who was a friend and supporter of Mola, but who was also famously difficult personality; while there is surely a backstory to the drawing, the precise story that engendered it is unknown. Simonelli appears in many caricatures by Mola including two further sheets at the Morgan, 1965.8, 1981.97, and 1981.98.
The same figure appears in a number of other caricatures by Mola, including several at the Ashmolean Museum (see K. T. Parker, "Catalogue of the Collection of Drawings in the Ashmolean Museum", II, Oxford, 1956, nos. 914-15).

Associated names: 

Hugelshofer, Walter, 1899- former owner.
Scholz, János, former owner.

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