(Antwerp 1540 - Bologna 1619)
266 x 194 mm. (10 1/2 x 7 5/8 in.)
The attribution of the The Assumption of the Virgin has been the subject of some scholarly debate. As early as 1570, when the altarpiece is mentioned in a description of the inauguration of the church in April of that year, the painting has generally been identified as the work of Lorenzo Sabatini (c.1530-1576). However, in his magisterial Felsina pittrice, published in 1678, the Bolognese art historian Carlo Cesare Malvasia records that the altarpiece was in fact painted by the young Calvaert when he was still in Sabatini’s studio, working from drawings provided by his master, and that the elder artist only retouched the final painting. Modern scholarship has tended to refer to the altarpiece as the work of Sabatini, with the possible contribution of his student Calvaert noted, although a few scholars have preferred to attribute the large painting in its entirety to Calvaert. Furthermore, it should be noted that the style of the present sheet is much closer to the drawings of Calvaert than those of Sabatini, which would suggest that Calvaert must have at least been responsible for the design of the figure of the angel in the painting.
Malvasia writes that Calvaert was particulary admired, as a draughtsman, for his drawings in red chalk. A stylistically comparable red chalk drawing by Calvaert of a standing saint seen from below, on the London art market in 1988, depicts the figure with his front foot resting on a horizontal rod, thereby allowing the artist to study the fall of drapery from beneath; the same method of posing the model is likely to have been used for the present sheet.
Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (according to the Mayor catalogue)
Sir Peter Lely, London (Lugt 2092)
Probably his posthumous sales, London, Richard Tompson, 16 April 1688 onwards or London, Parry Walton, 15 November 1694 onwards
William Mayor, London (Lugt 2799)
James Stewart Hodgson, Lythe Hill, Haslemere, Surrey
Thence by descent until 1921
Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 20 May 1921, part of lot 15
Lt. Col. Oliver Hawkshaw, Hollycombe House, Liphook, Hampshire
Thence by descent to private collection until 2012.