Marcantonio FRANCESCHINI (Bologna 1648 - Bologna 1729)

Charity Sold

Pen and brown ink and brown wash, over traces of an underdrawing in black chalk.
Squared for transfer in black chalk.
388 x 291 mm. (15 1/4 x 11 1/2 in.)


This drawing is a study for the figure of Charity, one of four pendentives frescoed beneath the cupola of the cathedral at Piacenza by Marcantonio Franceschini between 1688 and 1689. The four pendentive frescoes - depicting allegorical female figures representing Charity, Faith, Chastity and Humility - were detached from the cupola during the renovation of the interior of the cathedral between 1894 and 1902, and were thereafter displayed in the Convento degli Agostiniani in Piacenza. Largely destroyed during the Allied aerial bombardment of the city in 1943, the frescoes survive today only as fragments, although their compositions are recorded in old photographs. Franceschini’s now-lost fresco of Charity, in its final form, differed only slightly from the composition of the present sheet, mainly in the completely different pose of the winged angel at the bottom.

Two other preparatory studies by Franceschini for the Piacenza Charity are known, one in the collection of the Museo Davia Bargellini in Bologna and the other in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Another related compositional drawing for the fresco of Charity at Piacenza, by a pupil or assistant of Franceschini, is in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. A close copy of the present sheet, probably by Franceschini’s chief pupil and assistant Giacomo Boni, is in the Uffizi in Florence.

The present sheet once belonged to the art dealer and collector Paul Wallraf (1897-1981).

Paul Wallraf, Paris and London
Given by him to the present owner
Private collection, London.



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