Art historians uncover masterpiece of Italian drawing
Art historians of the research team headed by Professor Dr. Hans Dickel have succeeded in identifying the creator of a drawing masterwork in the collection held at the FAU University Library. The Bolognese artist Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, better known as Il Guercino (1591-1666), created this remarkable sketch which shows the Madonna with the child Jesus and four saints.
‘It is a preparatory sketch for Guercino’s altar painting A Donor Presented to the Virgin dating to 1616,’ explains Professor Dickel. Originally the painting hung in the church of San Agostino, in the town of Cento in the Emilia Romagna. Today it is on public display in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.
The researchers assume that the artist Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688) – who was internationally well connected – brought the drawing to Nuremberg following a stay in Italy. It may have been a gift from Guercino and also intended to provide proof of the Italian’s considerable skill. From there, it found its way into FAU’s Collection of Prints and Drawings.
Held in this collection are some 500 drawings from the 17th century, including some by artists such as Hans Rottenhammer and Michael Herr, but many of the artists who created the works have yet to be identified. A team of art historians led by Professor Dickel is currently engaged in a large-scale research project with the aim of creating an inventory of these drawings from the Baroque period. A major source of funding for the project is the Manfred Roth Foundation, based in Fürth.
The research project follows on directly from two previous projects in which the FAU art historians had created an inventory of the drawings in the FAU collection from the 14th and 15th centuries, and subsequently the 16th century; their work has been published in two comprehensive illustrated volumes – Zeichnen vor Dürer (The Art of Drawing pre-Dürer) and Zeichnen nach Dürer (The Art of Drawing post-Dürer). It is expected that the project ‘Drawing in the Baroque period’ will be completed by 2019.
Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Il Guercino), preliminary drawing for A Donor Presented to the Virgin, c. 1615. In light brown and dark brown ink with grey-brown wash, 28.6 x 18 cm, FAU Collection of Prints and Drawings, Inv. No. B 1576.
Prof. Dr. Hans Dickel
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