Giovanni da Modena

In a procession organized in two tiers, a princess on horseback is accompanied by servants and led by a bearded rider who points the way to a younger companion. Courtly cavalcades were popular motifs in fifteenth-century Italy, but women seldom played a leading role in such scenes, and the subject of this intriguing composition remains elusive. The artist drew attention to the now-mysterious princess and the bearded rider through both their placement in the composition and their attentively rendered robes and horses, heightened in white to contrast with the paper’s midtone. The drawing is one of the oldest surviving works on manufactured blue paper.

Giovanni da Modena
Italian, ca. 1379–1454/55
Riding Procession with a Princess, Two Men, and Pages, ca. 1410–50
Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, heightened with white, over traces of black chalk on blue paper; partially pricked for transfer
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, INV. NO. C 150
© Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Photo: Herbert Boswank