Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Five Crouching Figures
ca. 1750
Red chalk on laid paper.
7 x 2 5/8 inches (177 x 67 mm)
Gift of János Scholz.

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Inscribed on verso, in red chalk, illegible throughout; at center, in pen and brown ink, "Guardi (Francesco) ne (?) / Venise en 1712 Mort en / 1793. Eléve da Canaletto / f=o",'071 / C. Gasc."; at lower edge, "acheté 0,45 ce Paris / le 25 Janvier 1860".

Amédee-Paul Émile Gasc (Lugt 1131); his brother, Charles Gasc, Paris (Lugt 543); Otto Wertheimer, Paris; János Scholz, New York (no mark; see Lugt S. 2933b).

Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twentieth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1981-1983. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984, p. 288-289.


Piranesi's early biographer Legrand noted that Piranesi carried scraps of paper and pieces of chalk with him as he walked through the streets of Rome and would sketch figures he observed on the streets. It is easy to imagine these lively drawings resulting from that practice. The style suggests that they are from relatively early in his career, around 1750.
This is one of a large group of Piranesi's figure drawings that appeared on the Parisian art market in the mid-nineteenth century. This sheet, and at least six others, were acquired by Amadee-Paul Emile Gasc and Charles Gasc, and another fourteen were owned by Achille-Francois Wassert and are now in the Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Many of the studies, including the present sheet, were formerly misattributed to Francesco Guardi.
Watermark: none visible through lining.

Associated names: 

Gasc, Amédée-Paul Émile, former owner.
Gasc, Charles, former owner.
Wertheimer, Otto, 1896-1973, former owner.
Scholz, János, former owner.