Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Seated Man Holding a Drawing Board
ca. 1770-1775
Pen and brown ink over red chalk with extraneous marks in graphite.
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (295 x 209 mm)
Thaw Collection.

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This atypically large figure study appears to capture one of Piranesi's assistants holding a board or tablet and sketching outdoors, to judge from the man's cap and cloak. The drawing was made quickly with a thick pen, and the man's features and left arm are distorted. As is often the case in Piranesi's figure sketches, he was evidently more interested in capturing a moment of activity than in accurately depicting anatomy.


Illegible inscription [cut off] by the artist at left, in red chalk; computations in black chalk; inscribed at lower right, in graphite, "Guardi".

Unidentified collector, mark RC interfaced; Dr. and Mrs. Francis Springell, Keswick, Cumberland; his sale, London, Sotheby's, 28 June 1962, lot 43, repr.; private collection, London; Artemis Fine Arts Ltd., London; Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw, New York.
Associated names: 

Springell, Francis C., former owner.
Springell, Francis C., Mrs., former owner.
Thaw, Eugene Victor, former owner.
Thaw, Clare, former owner.


The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY, "Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection", 2017. Exh. cat., no. 293, repr.
Denison, Cara D. et al. Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Victor Thaw. Part II. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1985, no. 23.