Alessandro Algardi

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Alessandro Algardi
Hercules Mounting the Pyre
Pen and two brown inks and brown wash, over black chalk, with opaque white, on laid paper; adhered to old mount inscribed "Cav: Aless.o Algardi" and "2684" and "59".
9 5/8 x 6 3/4 inches (245 x 170 mm)
Purchased on the Edwin H. Herzog Fund and as the gift of Walter Klein, the Bunge Corporation, and Christopher Knowlton.

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Inscribed recto upper right in ink, "N. 42".

Padre Sebastiano Resta (1635-1714; L. 2992); John, Lord Somers (1650-1716; L. 2981, his numbering lower right: d:66; listed in the Resta-Somers catalogue in the British Museum, Ms. Lansdowne 803 as 'Hercules going to Dye'); sale, Sotheby's, New York, 26 January 2005, lot 69, repr.

Jennifer Montagu, Alessandro Algardi, 2 vols., New Haven, 1985, vol, II, p. 455, under cat. No. A. 198 (l), not repr. (as a lost drawing by Algiardi).


This recently discovered drawing is an important new addition to the corpus of studies by Algardi for the decoration of the Villa Belrespiro (Doria-Pamphilj) outside Rome. The present sheet corresponds closely with Hercules Mounting the Pyre (in situ; Olga Raggio, "Alessandro Algardi e gli stucchi di Villa Pamphili," Paragone, XXII, no. 251 (January 1971), plate 17b, repr.) as reproduced in stucco on the ceiling of the Galleria di Ercole, dedicated to the Labors of Hercules and other scenes from his life. According to account books (Jennifer Montagu, Alessandro Algardi, 2 vols., New Haven, 1985, vol. II, p. 454), the stuccatori Rocca Bolla and Giovanni Maria Sorisi carried out the decoration after Algardi's designs from 24 April to the end of May 1646, thus providing a terminus ante quem for the present drawing. It seems likely that Algardi ultimately drew inspiration from the popular engraved crystal plaques from a now lost casket by Annibale Fontana (d. 1587), which, in Algardi's time, was in the Duke of Mantua's collection. Other drawings related to the decoration are in the British Museum (Nicholas Turner with the assistance of Rhoda Eitel-Porter, Roman Baroque Drawings: c. 1620 to c. 1700. London, London, 1999, vol, I, pp. 1-2, nos. 1-2, vol, II, repr.), the Teyler Museum in Haarlem (Montagu, 1985, vol. II, fig. 104), and the Uffizi (Catherine Johnston, Mostra di disegni bolognesi dal XVI al XVIII secolo, Florence, 1973, no. 91, repr.).

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