Pietro Faccini (Bologna 1562 - Bologna 1602)

Study of a Seated Youth, Leaning to the Right

Red chalk, with stumping. The upper corners cropped.
Inscribed Coreggio at the lower left.
237 x 330 mm. (9 3/8 x 13 in.) at greatest dimensions.


The attribution of this beautiful drawing to Pietro Faccini was first proposed by Babette Bohn in 1991, and was subsequently confirmed by the late Mario di Giampaolo. The drawing shows the influence of Annibale Carracci in the use of soft, stumped red chalk, and probably dates to the period of Faccini’s study with Annibale in the late 1580s, when both artists were inspired by the drawings of Correggio. The Correggesque quality of this drawing is further evidence of its early date; indeed, it was long attributed to Correggio himself, as evidenced by the inscription at the lower left. The present sheet is, in fact, inspired by the figure of an ephebus in Correggio’s fresco of The Assumption of the Virgin on the cupola of the Duomo in Parma, painted in the second half of the 1520s. Faccini has omitted the foreshortened, dangling legs of Correggio’s figure and given the youth a more lively expression.

The soft, sensuous application of stumped red chalk to depict the play of light and shade on the nude form - note, for example, the way in which the artist has depicted the shadow of the youth’s arm as it falls across the side of his chest - is a characteristic feature of Pietro Faccini’s draughtsmanship of the 1580s. A stylistically comparable early drawing by Faccini of a Reclining Male Nude is in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, while in handling and effect a sheet of studies of Saint Francis in the Louvre provides a further point of comparison with this drawing.

It has recently been suggested that a red chalk study of a youth in the collection of the British Museum, where it is attributed to Annibale Carracci, may depict the same model. An interesting comparison may also be made with a drawing of a male nude by Annibale in the Louvre, which appears to be a similarly free interpretation of the type of youthful figure frescoed by Correggio on the cupola of the cathedral in Parma.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, London (Lugt 2364)
By descent to his niece, Mary Palmer, later Marchioness of Thomond
The posthumous Reynolds sales, London, A. C. de Poggi, 26 May 1794 onwards or London, H. Philips, 5-26 March 1798
John Bacon Sawrey Morritt, Rokeby Park, nr. Barnard Castle, County Durham
By descent to Major Henry Edward Morritt, Rokeby Park
Presumably Robin Morritt
Ian Woodner, New York
His posthumous sale, London, Christie’s, 6 July 1991, lot 105
P. & D. Colnaghi, London, in 1992
Acquired in 1992 by James Fairfax, Bowral, N.S.W., until 2010.

Catherine Legrand, Le dessin à Bologne 1580-1620: La réforme des trois Carracci, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1994, p.101, under no.66; Jean Goldman, ‘A New Attribution to Pietro Faccini’, Antichità viva, 1996, Nos.2-3, pp.28-29, fig.3; Richard Beresford and Peter Raissis, The James Fairfax Collection of Old Master Paintings, Drawings and Prints, exhibition catalogue, Sydney, 2003, pp.82-83, no.21; Plymouth, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Sir Joshua Reynolds: The Acquisition of Genius, exhibition catalogue, 2009-2010, p.129, under no.55.


Study of a Seated Youth, Leaning to the Right


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