French School

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French School
Antique Ruins and Sculpture with a Hooded Figure in Foreground with a Skeleton and a Book and His Feet
Pen and brown ink and wash, over black chalk, on light brown paper.
15 3/8 x 19 inches (391 x 483 mm)
Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and gift of Henry S. Morgan.

Formerly attributed to Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Although this drawing came to the Morgan as part of the collection with more than 100 drawings by Piranesi, it is surely not by the artist but is instead a pastiche, based mainly on elements from the plates of Piranesi's Prima Parte. As Andrew Robison has noted, the Parisian printmaker and publisher Etienne Charpentier (1707-1792) created a remarkably similar image as plate 109 in Francois Blondel's edition of Vignola, Livre Nouveau ou Regles des Cinq Ordres d'Architecture (Charpentier, Paris, 1757); the similarity is close enough that Robison has proposed that the Morgan drawing could be by Charpentier as well.
A drawing in the Musee du Louvre, inv. 3785, is by the same hand. While that is now identified as “Attributed to Piranesi” because of its relationship to the Morgan drawing, the Louvre sheet's traditional attribution to an anonymous “French School” artist of the eighteenth century is surely closer to the mark.

Mrs. J. P. Morgan, New York; by descent to her sons Junius S. Morgan, Princeton and Paris (no mark, see Lugt 1536) and Henry S. Morgan, New York.
Associated names: 

Piranesi, Giovanni Battista, 1720-1778, Formerly attributed to.
Morgan, Jane Norton, 1868-1925, former owner.
Morgan, Junius Spencer, 1892-1960, former owner.
Morgan, Henry S. (Henry Sturgis), 1900-1982, former owner.


Stampfle, Felice. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Dover, 1978, no. 132, repr.

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