Giulio PIPPI detto GIULIO ROMANO known as JULES ROMAIN (Rome 1499-1546)
Birth of Saint John the Baptist or Birth of the Virgin Mary.
38 x 30 cm (15 x 11-3/4 in.).
Pen and brown ink over black pencil outlines, brown wash, white gouache enhancements.
Small holes, creases, abrasions, foxings, stains, restorations along three cropped corners. Numbered twice « 150 » with pen and brown ink lower right; on lining verso an older inscription (Mariette ?) with pen and brown ink : « Dessiné (drawn) par Jules Romain / N'150 »
Provenance : Former collection of Everhard Jabach (1618-1695), n'618 from « Transcription de l'Inventaire » (Inventory record)
Former collection of Pierre Crozat (1665-1740), n' « 150 » lower right (inventory number after his death in 1740 executed by Mariette with two legal officers) ; Mariette, Abecedario IV p.163
Anonymous auction, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, April 10, 1924, n'74 (rep.)
Bibliography : F. Hartt, Giulio Romano, ed. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1958, t. I (pp. 206-207) and t. II (ill. n'425)
Massari, Giulio Romano pinxit et delineavit, ed. Fratelli Palombi, 1993, pp.151-152 ; n'149 rep.)
B. Py, « Les dessins de l'inventaire de 1695 » (Inventory of Drawings of 1695), Everhard Jabach collector (1618-1695), ed. RMN, 2001, n'618
Related works : - Duomo frescoes, Verona after cartoons by Giulio Romano (see Hartt, t.2, fig. 425)
- Inverted engraving of our composition by Diana Ghisi (see Massari n'149)
- Copy of our composition of engraved plate side in collections of Windsor Castle (Inv. 1358)
- Drawing of the some composition given to Giulio Romano's school (Christie's Roma, November 19, 1990, n'68 ; ill. 78)
- Drawing of the same subject with different composition, Louvre collection (inv. 3454)
The composition of our drawing borrows certain elements from the frescoes of the Duomo in Verona, executed in 1534 by Francesco Torbido after cartoons by Giulio Romano. We find the female figure carrying a basket on her head but less dominating in our drawing. The work at the Louvre (inv. 3454), which represents a section of the composition, does not include this female subject.
The inverted engraving by Diana Ghisi adapts in contrast the exact composition of our drawing. (see Massari, n'149, pp.151-152). The copy with engraved plate side is in the collections of Windsor Castle (inv. 1358).
According to Bernadette Py, the drawing was auctioned at Hôtel Drouot in 1924 (reproduced, bearing the n'150 and corresponds to our drawing) becoming the n' « 26 dudit (Giulio Romano) » of Jabach inventory of 1695 described as : « La Nativité de Notre-Dame où Sainte Anne est sur le lit, avec quantité de figures, et Dieu le Père dans la fenêtre par en haut, à la plume, lavé et haussé sur papier bistre, long de 13 ¾ sur 17 1/3 pouces, 37 livres 10 sols » (see B. Py, n'618) (The Nativity of Notre Same or Saint Anne on the bed, with quantity of figures and God the Father in the window in upper section, pen, wash and heightened on bistre paper, length of 13-3/4 by 17-1/3 pouces, 37 pounds 10 sols. She further adds that this drawing with its Crozat provenance is surely cited in the Abecedario de Mariette, in relation to the print by Diana Ghisi : « La Naissance de la Vierge. Cette belle estampe est de l'invention de Jules Romain ; l'on n'y voit aucun nom ni marque de graveur ; mais il n'y en a aucun à qui elle convienne mieux qu'à Diane de Mantoue. – Je n'y reconnais point du tout la manière de Diane - . Ceintrée par le haut, il y a sur le devant un chien Barbet qui ronge un os. – M. Crozat en avait l'original.» (The Birth of the Virgin. This beautiful print is the invention of Jules Romain, we do not see any name or mark of the engraver, but there are none more suitable than Diane of Mantua. - I do not recognize at all Diane's manner -. Encircled along the top, on the front is a Barbet dog gnawing a bone. - Mr. Crozat had the original. )(voir B. Py, n'618).
The subject was inspired by the Classical iconography of the Birth of the Virgin Mary. But with our drawing and Ghisi's engraving, we distinguish exactly the male genital of the newborn, leaving us to assume it maybe the Birth of Saint John the Baptist.
Contrary to drawings acquired by Colbert for the King in 1671, this work was not retouched by the French artist during the 17th Century for embellishing. It has conserved intactly the fine, white gouache enhancements with tight outlines even during wear from the centuries that somewhat mitigated the effect. However, a brown-ink pen was used in some places to "risen" (without doubt during the 17th Century) in order to restore consistency in the forms when abrasions altered the meaning of the drawing.
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