Antonio Galli Bibiena

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Antonio Galli Bibiena
Design for Half of a Colonnaded Palace Hall. Verso: Prison Interior
ca. 1725-1730
Pen and brown ink and wash, over graphite, on paper.
10 7/8 x 9 13/16 inches (276 x 249 mm)
Promised gift of Jules Fisher.

This sheet is surely a working drawing for a still-unidentified production: its reverse bears a list of scenes that includes the prison setting depicted on the front. Prisons often featured in eighteenth-century theater, but the stairway and gloomy arches of this example are reminiscent of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's famous Carceri d'invenzione (Imaginary prisons). Piranesi was but one of many artists deeply influenced by the Bibienas, a testament to their impact not merely on the theater but far more broadly on European art of the eighteenth century.
Watermark: Letters "CP" inside circle. Watermark, beta radiograph. circle, "CP". 439974wm_L2019_137_11_WM_beta.jpg


Recto: "1. Strada. t[el]a 2 /2. Appartamenti di Cudosia [Cadmio] con statua/ +3. Boscho t[el]a no.-3/4. Prigione t[el]a no.2/5. Salla t[el]a no. 4" and summing of numbers. [1.Road. canvas 2/2. Apartments of Cudosia [Cadmus] with statue/3. Forest canvas no.-3/4. Prison canvas no. 2/5. Hall canvas no. 4]; Within drawing: "A" flat label on column, with numerical notations on lower portion of column; further numerical notations at the base of the drawing and on ground plan below; Verso: Scale given twice, running up column at left, 1 through 6; running up the right column, numbers 3 through 6 [numbers 1 and 2 missing because lower corner is made up] Scale given twice, running up column at left column, 1 through 6; running up the right column, numbers 3 through 6 [numbers 1 and 2 missing because lower corner is made up]

Richard Day, London, 1974; Lodewijk Houthakker, Amsterdam; Niall Hobhouse, London; purchased at his sale, Christie's, London, 22 May 2008, lot 150; Jules Fisher collection (Fisher Number: JF-030).
Associated names: 

Houthakker, Lodewijk, former owner.
Nobhouse, Niall, former owner.
Fisher, Jules, owner.


The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY, "Architecture, Theater, and Fantasy: Bibena Drawings from the Jules Fisher Collection", 2021. Exh. cat., no. 25, repr.